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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Take WCC Classes in High School

Editor's note: Since this article was published, Lincoln High School also has signed on to host WCC classes starting in Winter Semester 2013, which begins in January.

Starting this fall, students at many area high schools will be able to take WCC classes on their own campuses.

Offering classes at high schools is an expansion of WCC’s dual enrollment program, which lets high school students take College classes while they’re still in school. Previously, high school students who dual enrolled could take classes at WCC’s main campus or at its extension centers at Brighton High School, Dexter High School, the Hartland Center, and the Harriet Street Center in Ypsilanti.

Scheduling of the classes is up to each participating high school. However, most will offer the classes during seventh period or after the regular school day ends.

At least initially, most high schools will host one or two classes each semester. “We’re starting small so we can work out the details,” said Diana Sepac, director of Evening & Extension Services at WCC. “But everybody’s interested in expanding. We’re all trying to make it successful.”

Classes will be offered at five new high schools, in addition to existing WCC extension sites at Brighton High School and Dexter High School. The new high schools include:

  • Chelsea High School
  • Hartland High School
  • Manchester High School
  • Milan High School
  • Whitmore Lake High School

Sepac expects to have more high schools on board before Fall Semester begins.

Many Students Won’t Have to Pay Tuition

In many cases, school districts will pay the tuition for their students who take WCC classes, said Linda Blakey, associate vice president of Student Services at WCC. “That’s a huge plus for the student—that they get college credits and they don’t have to pay for them,” she said. However, the tuition payment rules vary by school district, Blakey said, so some students will have to pay their own tuition.

Each high school chose the classes that it will host, Blakey said. Most are general education classes that should transfer to any college or university, she said.

If the pilot project is successful, Blakey said, the plan is to offer a sequence of different classes at each school. This will give students the opportunity to earn a significant number of college credits.

For example, a high school student who starts taking one class each fall and winter semester as a sophomore can graduate from high school with 18 college credits. That’s more than a full semester worth of credits.

A special early registration period will be available for high school students who want to take WCC classes on their campuses this fall. Those students can register starting May 21, almost two months before regular registration starts on July 11.

Once regular registration begins, the public can sign up for the classes that WCC is offering at high schools.

Who Can Dual Enroll?

To dual enroll at WCC, a student must be in high school and have college-level reading and writing scores on an assessment test. The minimum acceptable scores are:

  • ACT: 19 reading, 20 English or English/writing
  • SAT: 460 critical reading, 480 writing
  • COMPASS: 82 reading, 81 writing

Students also must submit consent forms signed by their parent(s) and their counselor or principal. The dual enrollment packet has copies of the forms and instructions about how to dual enroll. It’s particularly important for students to get the counselor/principal consent form signed before the end of the school year because of summer vacations.

Students younger than 15 are eligible as long as they’re in high school. However, they and their parent(s) must do an interview at WCC’s Admissions Office.

WCC’s Fall Semester starts Friday, Aug. 24. However, because all high schools are on vacation until after Labor Day, WCC classes at the high schools will start Tuesday, Sept. 4.

Impetus Came From President

The impetus for expanding the dual enrollment program came from WCC President Rose Bellanca. Shortly after she became president, Bellanca launched a strategic planning initiative that included listening sessions with superintendents and high school principals from throughout the area. “They wanted more from us than we were providing,” Blakey said.

“As a community college, we need to be responsive to our constituents,” Blakey said. “And certainly K-12 is one of our most important constituents.”

Sepac, who’s spearheading the high school effort for WCC, said she’s had a “wonderful” response from school districts. “I think the districts are pleased that we heard them,” she said. Districts are especially happy that WCC is customizing the classes to meet their exact needs, she said.

One of those who’s excited about the project is Ryan McMahon, principal of Milan High School. “We’re really looking forward to it,” McMahon said. “It’s a partnership we’ve wanted for a long time.”

Milan will host “Introduction to Psychology” in the Fall Semester, and “Principles of Sociology” during Winter Semester. Both classes will be offered at the end of the school day, and will be open to the public. “I think a lot of students are looking forward to dual enrolling,” McMahon said. The school district will pay the tuition for its high school students, McMahon said.

McMahon wants to continue offering WCC classes during the day, and to expand into providing WCC classes at night. “That’s what we’re hoping for,” he said. “We’d like to build on our relationship with WCC.”

The classes are an excellent opportunity for a variety of students to try college, said Kim Goffee, senior dean/12th grade counselor at Milan High School. These include students who lack transportation to WCC’s main campus, those who are the first generation in their families to consider college, and those who may not consider themselves college material. For students in the last group, success in the WCC classes might boost their confidence enough so they would enroll in college after high school, she said.

“It’s so important for kids to try things to find out what they are or are not interested in,” Goffee said.

As for Sepac, she’s still talking to other school districts about the possibility of offering classes at their high schools. “We’re going to continue to knock on doors,” she said.

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