SOU’s Top Grads Completed College in Three Years

(Ashland, Ore.) Southern Oregon University (SOU) has named Melody Condon and Michael Culp the Dankook Outstanding Undergraduate Woman and Man of the Year for 2012. The pair will be recognized at SOU’s commencement Saturday, June 16, 2012.

Condon, 20, from Berthoud, Colo. and Culp, 23, originally from Pasadena, Calif. and now residing in Eagle Point, Ore., both graduated in three years as part of SOU’s unique Accelerated Baccalaureate Program. “Acc Bacc,” as its known on campus, allows students with strong academic backgrounds the opportunity to essentially begin college as a sophomore without taking many of the normal general education courses required in the freshman year. Students who are accepted into the program typically have some or all of the following: Good SAT scores, strong GPA, high class rank, Advanced Placement credits, teacher recommendation, and excellent writing skills.

Unlike some accelerated college programs that require a student to attend classes year-round, SOU’s Acc Bacc allows a student to take summers off and still have time during the regular school year for intramural sports, study abroad, club activities, and a social life.

“The hard part,” says Acc Bacc Director Curt Bacon, “is knowing exactly what you want to do when you start the program, often at age 17 or 18. Not everyone that age knows exactly what they want to do and is ready to jump in and work hard to the goal.”

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Michael Culp did. “I knew I wanted to be in finance and, although I looked at bigger, better-known universities, the Acc Bacc made me want to go to SOU. It’s a great program.”

Culp graduates with a 3.98 college GPA and a degree in economics. He completed his capstone project, titled “The Collapse of the Greek Economy,” in just one term, a rarity in economics.

Culp says, “My experience at SOU was amazing. The business and economics courses were challenging and the professors in these departments are world class. And, although the Acc Bacc program was rigorous, I enjoyed college as much as anyone else. I didn’t miss anything.”

Culp plans to get a job after graduation and, after few years in the working world, pick up his MBA.

Melody Condon graduates with a 4.0 college GPA and a degree in professional writing and a minor in creative writing. She’s glad she accelerated her schooling. “General education classes would have extended college needlessly,” she says.

Although she says she took 21 credits one term in order to make sure she could into a special upper division class, Condon says she still had time to take lots of P E courses and become a licensed Zumba instructor.

She also had time to work summers as a technical writing intern at two software companies, tutor at the SOU Writing Center, lead a team of student writers that secured a grant for the ACCESS Food Share Gardens, and edit the SOU Writing Style Guide. “I was very focused the whole time,” says Condon.

After graduation Condon will spend more time on her new business, freelance copyediting. See more at melodyediting.com.

Bacon says the rising cost of tuition has increased interest in the Accelerated Baccalaureate Program. “Acc Bacc allows you to save a year of tuition, books and housing expenses. It also get you into grad school or a job a year earlier,” he says, “and your bachelor’s degree is fully recognized.”

For more information, visit sou.edu/abp

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