Mason Moreck was just 12 years old when he started taking College Credit Plus courses at Lorain County Community College. Now, the Avon High School junior is on track to earn an associate of arts degree and an associate of applied science degree in microelectronic manufacturing by the end of this academic year. And when he graduates high school in May 2024, he’ll also earn a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in microelectronic manufacturing.
It’s an impressive feat, but for Mason, 16, and his dad, Rich, maximizing the potential of College Credit Plus just makes sense. Rich, a former director of career and technical services at Lorain City Schools and current instructor at Oberlin City Schools, remembers when the State of Ohio replaced previous dual enrollment programs with College Credit Plus in 2013 and has watched its participation levels and impact grow. Since 2013, 11,335 Lorain County high school graduates have earned college credit from Lorain County Community College (LCCC), saving families $99 million in public four-year university tuition rates.
As soon as Mason was eligible, Rich dove into the experience alongside his son, spending hours waiting outside Mason’s on-campus classes before he was old enough to drive himself. He also became Mason’s master of scheduling, which he said is so important as students increase the number of credits they take, in order to fit it all in and meet the various degree requirements.
“It’s an investment that I couldn’t pass up,” Rich said. “I think I’m most proud of the maturity that he’s shown and how he’s grown over the course of four years.”
Part of that maturity and growth has come from Mason finding a career pathway he enjoys. Johnny Vanderford, LCCC assistant professor of microelectronic manufacturing (MEMS), took Mason and Rich on a tour of the MEMS labs and cleanrooms, explaining how the industry-tailored, hands-on degree program would develop Mason’s skills in computer science, electronics, soldering, chemistry, and mechanics on a microscopic scale. After that visit, Mason was hooked.
“He talked about the different companies we could work at, and what we could do,” Mason said. “One example was Disney and that was the coolest one. He talked about how the LED lighting for the shows is made.”
Rich was impressed, too. But for other reasons.
“Our tour with Johnny was an hour and a half,” Rich recalled. “It was just the two of us and he gave us so much time and detail. It was great.”
From day one in the MEMS program, Mason began learning and applying skills that would soon translate into work experience. The program’s curriculum was designed in partnership with local employers and requires work-based learning early on. Mason is working at Core Technologies in Avon, which manufactures high performance standard and custom power conversion products. As part of his coursework, Mason earned his standard certification in soldering and he said that’s his favorite skillset to use.
“It’s like welding, but at a much smaller and more controlled scale,” Mason said. “Instead of taking two giant lumps of metal and bonding them together, you’re taking a small chip and a small board. And you’re putting on 100 of them.”
Beyond building his resume, Mason said his work experience has helped him understand some benefits of College Credit Plus that he didn’t grasp at age 12.
“I’m 12, I don’t know how money works,” Mason recalled. “I’m appreciating it more now, because I have a job and sometimes an hourly wage isn’t a lot when you have to pay for college and textbooks are $150.”
While Mason’s College Credit Plus experience has been extraordinary, Rich is quick to tell every high school student that any college credit earned is well worth it. The average for Lorain County high school graduates is 20.
“College Credit Plus in my mind is for everyone,” Rich said, “Whether they’re going for an associate degree or doing the transfer module, high school students should be coming out to LCCC and taking classes. It’s free.”