YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A Youngstown high school is helping prepare students for college.

“We can change the future by what we present and offer to them,” said Monica Jones, principal of Youngstown Rayen Early College High School.

Jones explained the opportunities scholars are presented with while attending YREC. Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel works hand-in-hand with Jones.

“It’s an environment where we compress four years of a high school curriculum as well as allowing scholars to have the opportunity to earn credits up to an associate degree,” Jones said.

This program gives scholars the opportunity to gain an associate’s degree at YSU that is paid for by the Youngstown City School District.

“What’s fun is to see them on campus. I think it makes them feel special. I think it gets them that feeling of ‘I can do this,'” Tressel said.

One YREC student says attending college classes while in high school has shaped her into a well-rounded student. She believes it has set her up for a successful life.

“With me going through this program, being able to get more education just in general, I’m less nervous about transitioning into adulthood because I feel like I have more education and more experiences,” said YREC Senior Class President Kailia Anderson.

“We’re giving kids an opportunity that they might not have,” Jones said.

Students aren’t alone while navigating this special opportunity because it’s quite rigorous.

“What really matters is relationships and so we really put a high premium on that in order to support our kids in that endeavor,” Jones said.

The scholars are asked to accomplish a lot in just four years of high school, but Tressel believes it sets them up for success.

“I think anytime you give students, scholars the opportunity to really stretch themselves, to go after that rigor that’s even tougher than they have ever experienced, that’s a good thing,” Tressel said.

The full story on how the YREC program impacts the Valley can be seen on February 26 at 10:30 p.m. on Fox Youngstown.