Tobey Kegley's Story

Columbus State helps thousands of students get a head start on their education, but Tobey Kegley pulled off a rare feat: She graduated high school and college in the same year. The 18-year-old graduated from Upper Arlington High School in the spring, then finished an associate degree in Interactive Media from Columbus State in August. She entered Ohio University this fall as a college junior.

“I feel better prepared for college. I’m going to have more confidence and maturity when I get there,” Kegley said. “I feel like I’m already a step ahead the incoming students at Ohio University.”

Most transfer students pursue the Associate of Arts or Associate of Science degrees, which are general-purpose degrees that fulfill general education requirements of a bachelor’s degree.

But Kegley earned a technical degree in Interactive Media, studying digital sound and video. She’ll hit the ground running at Ohio University’s Scripps School of Communication, where she plans to study film and video.

“I didn’t want to take just general education classes. I came here to do projects and build my portfolio,” Kegley said. “I have more of the technical skills that will allow me to be more creative.”

That portfolio is filled with work from Columbus State, including website design, motion graphics and videos. She’s also designed brochures and t-shirts for the college’s Student Engagement and Leadership office.

Kegley started taking classes at Columbus State at age 14 through Ohio’s Post-Secondary Options program, which allows students to earn college credit while still in high school.

“It was just my alternative to Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes, which are a big focus at Upper Arlington,” Kegley said.

Although she was nervous starting her first class (a French class), it helped that her uncle took the class with her. And it didn’t hurt that her mother, Terri Kegley, is a Columbus State math instructor and 2013 Distinguished Teaching Award winner.

College is a different world from high school, Kegley said. You have to take charge of your own education.

“There’s no bell schedule in college,” Kegley said. “No one’s reminding you to turn in your homework the next day. But at the same time, there are a ton of resources to help, so you just have to be proactive and stay on top of your own work.”

After that first class, she started “piling on the credits.” She took classes through the school year and over the summer. Often she’d have five classes at Columbus State and three at Upper Arlington – as well as an after-school job, a spot on the varsity rowing team, and a position with Columbus State’s Student Ambassadors.

The Student Ambassadors has been a great group of friends, Kegley said. As an Ambassador, Kegley conducted campus tours, helped out with events, and met with donors to the Columbus State Foundation.

“Student Ambassadors really got me connected on campus,” Kegley said. “It got me out of my bubble.”

Diversity is one of Columbus State’s strong points. As a high school student, she met students from different countries, people of all ages, and people from all walks of life. The ability to relate to all kinds of people is an underrated life skill.

“I definitely benefitted from the diversity in the classroom,” Kegley said.

With all those activities, one of Kegley’s secret weapons for managing her time was online courses.

She took most of her general education classes in person, to get face-to-face instruction from professors, but she took most of her technical classes online. That allowed her to work on projects on her own time.

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