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Ashtabula Campus helps pave high school students road to college

Posted Jan. 28, 2011

Extracted from an E-Inside article written by Judd Bernardo

Ashtabula Campus helps pave high school students road to college

Kent State University at Ashtabula has established a dual-credit initiative that helps high school students further their high school education and at the same time provide them with college credit. The programs is well-received by the community and is creating a stronger relationship between the university and the local high schools involved.

Kent State Ashtabula, the Ashtabula County Educational Service Center and local high schools are collaborating on bringing higher education directly to high school students, strengthening their paths toward college degrees.

"The dual-enrollment program is an attempt to close the gap between the regional high schools and Kent State Ashtabula," Dr. Payman Nasr, assistant professor of biological sciences, said "This privilege comes at no financial costs to the students or their parents," Nasr said.

The program, which began in the spring of 2008 and initially offered only science and mathematics, has grown significantly and has expanded to all disciplines. The program showed success almost immediately. The spring 2009 semester saw record enrollment with 188 high school students joining the university student body while earning college credit by taking classes in their home schools.

John Rubesich, superintendent of the county's educational service center, credits Kent State Ashtabula Dean Dr. Susan Stocker for heading the efforts.

"Dean Stocker had the foresight to bring everyone together to meet a common goal," Rubich said. "This is a great entry point for learning more about college. Students might not know if they want to go to college. This gives them self-confidence," he said.

The main attraction of the dual-credit initiative is that it works to accomplish two different goals for students. The students will receive the required units to receive their high school diploma, while at the same time they will receive three college credit hours that will go toward a core course for the degree they are working on.

"Dual credit is a great way to bring college curricula into the high school so the students can work hands on with course content they will see in the future," Liz Driscoll, academic advisor for Kent State Ashtabula, said.

The students enrolled in the dual-credit initiative need to maintain a B average or better in their chosen field. The first half of the school year, students work with the high school curriculum. The second half is with the college curriculum, since a typical school year consists of four nine-week sessions.

Dual credit, formally known as Dual Credit in Mathematics, Science HB 119, is a goal of the State of Ohio's Department of Education and Board of Regents to deliver curricula to high school students aligned to the standards for admission to the university.

This is different from the Post Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) program, also provided by the state, and offered throughout the nation for 20 years. PSEO requires students to attend classes on the university campus instead of working in the high school. Dual credit is taught by high school teachers acting as assistants to the college faculty.

Most of the teachers and faculty from the surrounding Ashtabula high schools believe that it is a "win-win" situation for both the schools and the students. The program has opened the teachers' eyes regarding what college professors are looking for in students.

"The students enrolled are bright kids, and teachers are accustomed to challenging these students, so we are working together to deliver solid courses to earn them both high school and Kent State credits," Dr. Bradley Keefer, professor of history and participating university faculty member, said.