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Class of 22 in-district students are eligible for four free credits to try a college class

 - Sustainable food class is one of many that high school grads can take for free.

How much does a cheeseburger really cost?

That seemingly mundane question leads to many considerations — and realizations — in a Sustainable Food and Nutrition class at Central Oregon Community College (COCC), where students explore the major, but elusive, impacts of large-scale industrial agriculture, from climate change to diabetes.

The four-credit class, which visits sustainable farms throughout Central Oregon with a "get-your-hands-dirty" approach, is part of a diverse academic catalog being offered at COCC this summer term. And with COCC's "four free credits" offer for new high school graduates within the district (public, private, homeschooled and GED-earning students), it's an accessible and low-risk way to experience a college course.

COCC announced the special offer earlier this spring. Sunday, June 12, is the summer term admissions application deadline and the last chance for Class of 2022 high school grads to claim the free credits. With a value of up to $529, the free credits are intended to help put college careers in motion. The offer includes both tuition and standard course fees.

"Students can choose from an extensive course list that includes graphic design, automotive, entrepreneurship, software applications, math in society and many, many others," said Tyler Hayes, director of admissions and records. "For some, this could mean gaining the necessary skills to enter the workforce or perhaps to further their education at COCC or another college or university."

It's a chance to learn from experts like Owen Murphy, associate professor in the health and human performance department, who teaches the college's popular Sustainable Food and Nutrition course.

"The thing I want most is for students to start making the connections between what we eat and how the world is used," said Murphy. "Our current food system is largely unsustainable, but it doesn't have to be that way. Once students understand how their food choices impact environmental, social and economic issues, many are motivated to make change."

The full schedule of summer term course options can be viewed at, with a search for "schedule of classes." Available course formats include in-person, remote and online; free loaner laptops, tablets, web cameras; and Wi-Fi hotspots are available to students from the college's library.

Students can try out a specialized subject that might speak to their interests, such as the History of Rock Music or a psychology class called Mind and Brain. Or students can do the speaking themselves.

In a public speaking class with instructor Jim Hofman, Ph.D. — the type of college class that can nurture a lifelong skill — students learn about more than being confident and clear when communicating in front of others. They learn how to connect.

"I teach students to be strong communicators that motivate their listeners, so they want to hear what the student says," said Hofman. "(It's designed) to improve their ability to persuade through specific persuasive strategies and to listen critically to others, knowing the difference between fact and inference."

Summer term classes start Tuesday, June 21. Students who wish to take advantage of the free credits at COCC who are not already enrolled at the college need to submit an application and pay a one-time (lifetime) $25 application fee for summer term and complete the necessary enrollment steps.

Students must provide a copy of their high school diploma, transcript or GED, submitted electronically no later than 5 p.m. on Friday, June 24, to receive the free summer term credits.

Visit to learn more.

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