College of Southern Maryland student George Jenkins III, Henry E.
Lackey High School Class of 2014 Valedictorian, is among a growing
number of top-performing high school students choosing to start their
academic journeys at a community college.
While his Henry E. Lackey High School classmates were stressing over college applications, essays and decisions, George Jenkins III, Class of 2014 Valedictorian, was enjoying his senior year of high school,
confident that he had a path to graduation from one of the top engineering schools in the country.
Jenkins, of La Plata, started his collegiate journey at a community college—the College of Southern Maryland–and plans for his bachelor’s degree to read: University of Maryland (UMD) A. James Clark School of Engineering. Through the college’s STEM Scholars Program, Jenkins is receiving $5,000 toward full-time tuition of $3,450 as well as mentoring opportunities with professionals in his field of study electrical engineering and he will have a seamless transition to UMD as long as he meets guaranteed articulation agreement requirements.
He was not Lackey’s only top student to pick CSM; four of the top six of Lackey’s 2014 graduating class have chosen to start their academic pursuits at CSM. “Many of my classmates had already decided to attend CSM, so it wasn’t like I helped sway anyone, but I think hearing that their class valedictorian decided to come to CSM too made them happier with their choice,” Jenkins said.
Recent studies show that while 80 percent of current high school students believe obtaining a college degree is important to having a career, a large majority of those, nearly 75 percent, are adverse to acquiring student debt and worry they won’t be able to afford college.
“A college degree doesn’t have to equate to student loan debt,” said CSM President Dr. Brad Gottfried. “Students can have a great collegiate experience by starting at CSM. Small class sizes, outstanding
instructors, a broad curriculum and beautiful campuses are just some of the reasons that high achieving students select the college to begin or continue their education. Over 40 guaranteed transfer agreements make the pathway to a baccalaureate degree even easier.”
CSM is all about helping students plan their next step, according to CSM Senior Coordinator for Transfer Services and Articulation James Spence. With more than 40 formal articulation agreements in place with partner universities to continue toward a bachelor’s degree as well as hundreds of schools that accept CSM credits, students can travel from Southern Maryland to all corners of the U.S. and beyond.
“CSM is continually looking for articulation partnerships that make the transfer process easier and more seamless,” said Spence and he urges CSM freshmen to visit the advising office after their first semester to make sure they understand transfer requirements.
To assist parents and students who are interested in transfer opportunities from CSM, the college is hosting a Transfer Fair on each campus beginning with the Prince Frederick Campus and Leonardtown Campus on Feb. 18 and the La Plata Campus on Feb. 19.
“One of the benefits of attending a community college for the first two years is the enormous savings—up to $28,000 in some cases—over starting at a four-year college or university. By alleviating some of
the guesswork, ‘Will I be accepted?’ and ‘Will these classes transfer?’ students can concentrate on schoolwork and completion,” said Spence.
Of students who earned at least 12 credit hours at CSM, more than 1,700 transferred to 215 different colleges and universities in 45 states and the District of Columbia during the 2013-14 academic year. Destinations
include Maryland’s universities and other highly regarded schools across the nation.
The Southern Maryland Engineering Pipeline Jenkins said that his interest in engineering began at General
Smallwood Middle School where he took Foundations of Technology in the seventh grade. Working with his guidance counselor, he chose Lackey for its solid engineering program. In high school he was enrolled in a four-year Project Lead the Way which included courses in software programming, engineering concepts, digital electronics, electives in aerospace engineering and computer integrated manufacturing, and engineering design and development.
He was also involved in Lackey’s MESA (mathematics, engineering and science achievement) Program in which he served as captain of the Python Computer Programming Team and Prosthetic Arm Team during his junior and senior years. In his senior year, the Prosthetic Arm Team earned first place in state and regional competitions and third at the National Championship.
When it was time to start thinking beyond high school, Jenkins looked at colleges in Maryland before deciding on CSM.
“Choosing CSM to begin college made so much sense,” said Jenkins. “It was close to home so I didn’t need to pay for housing, the class sizes where small compared to most universities and the scholarship I earned is covering all of my expenses.”
Jenkins plans to complete his associate degree in engineering and transfer to UMD. He is considering another higher education program for engineering students: Southern Maryland Co-op Partnership Program in Engineering. The partnership between CSM, UMD, Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) and Southern Maryland Higher Education Center in St. Mary’s County, allows students to take the majority of their classes in Southern Maryland while participating in a cooperative education program with NAWCAD.
“[The Navy] would pay for tuition for my junior and senior years of college, and provide a paid internship. When I get my bachelor’s degree, I have an opportunity to have a job waiting for me,” Jenkins said.
An information session, “Night of Engineering,” for parents and students interested in the program is 6-7:30 p.m., Feb. 11 at the La Plata Campus, Center for Business and Industry (BI) Building, Room BI-113.
“On average, 60 percent of all Southern Maryland high school graduates get their academic start at CSM, and for many different reasons,” said CSM Director of Admissions Brian Hammond. “Many students have heeded the warnings on student loan debt and want to save money where they can. Some, didn’t get accepted in their first choice and are here to boost their GPA and prove they can do the work. Others are unsure of a major and want to explore their options close to home.”
For Jenkins, starting at CSM was a ‘no-brainer,’ he said because it just made good sense to him.
For information on Transfer Services, visit http://www.csmd.edu/TransferServices/.
For information on the Southern Maryland Pathways Program in Engineering, visit http://csmd.edu/stem/events_internship.html. For information on CSM engineering programs, visit