PUBLISHED: 4:40 PM on Wednesday, August 22, 2007
UAS offers high school students career-building opportunities
For students falling asleep at their desks or more realistically, not challenged by assigned homework and tests, the University of Alaska Southeast has just the fix. Offering a Dual Enrollment and Tech Prep program, they not only provide an educational "booster" shot, they prepare students for the unknown, while building knowledge and confidence.

"In Tech Prep, college curriculum is taught in the high school, and students receive college credit. Dual enrollment (is) where students are taking classes on college campus and paying college tuition," said registrar Barbara Hegel, of University of Alaska Southeast.

Created for school district students who seek the challenge of college instruction, the UAS dual enrollment program was a solution.

The program has been around about 10 years, and started with Washington State offering an advanced program where students can receive an Associate of Art degree by the time they finished high school, she said.

Students have either exhausted high school course offerings, have shown solid ability and/or are highly topic-focused.

"Last year they had 138 students enroll," Hegel said.

"Students are allowed to take up to six credits, basically two classes. Most students take one course, or three credits. The feedback we get is they come back next semester," Hegel said.

Qualified high school students 16 years of age and older may enroll in one or two UAS courses per semester while still in high school by providing: signature of approval from a high school representative on Dual Enrollment signature form; parental signature on registration form; official high school transcript and the signature of a Dual Enrollment adviser at UAS, according to the UAS Web site.

Select students under the age of 16 may enroll in courses at UAS by providing the required documentation along with additional approval from a representative from the academic department (dean, chair and instructor).

Dual enrollment students will be required to meet with the UAS representative and obtain their signature before registering for the course, they said.

Students are not required to apply for university admission. Students may continue to take UAS courses as long as high school and college grades are satisfactory and with the above-stated permissions each semester.

All documentation must be on file at UAS before registration can occur with no exceptions.

"I personally meet with every student who wants to take the class and see if they're really ready to engage," she said.

"I think it's just a wonderful program for students, and we hope the Legislature sees the benefit of helping to fund high school students for the college program because it gets to be expensive. It's definitely not for everybody," she said.

She said a lot of her students are home schooled, and that parents are sometimes limited in their knowledge for teaching and looking for opportunities to advance their students.

Hegel points out the benefit of motivating students by providing them with a glimpse of prospects available after high school.

"A student came to me on how she could get into a specific school. She is pleased as punch that she can experience this before (hand), take that plunge and give her an idea of what college is like and really experience it," Hegel said.

Developed in May 2004, the Alaska Tech Prep Consortium was a result of discussions among member of Vocational/Technical Education Providers to build a statewide system for tech prep.

A great opportunity, Tech Prep is a program that connects two years of career and technical training at the high school with two years of training at the postsecondary level in a non-duplicative sequence of courses that result in a certificate, credential or a degree.

There were 28 Tech Prep agreements in place in eight school districts in Southeast (Alaska): Haines, Juneau, Ketchikan, Klawock, Mt. Edgecumbe, Petersburg, Sitka, and Wrangell, said Tech Prep specialist Cynthia Jacobsen, of Alaska Tech Prep Consortium. "Programs with agreements include health sciences, auto, construction, welding, culinary arts, fisheries and early childhood education. Over 120 students enrolled for concurrent or dual credit through the Tech Prep program," she said.

"Students can earn advanced placement and/or college credit for courses taken during high school if the course content is equivalent to postsecondary training. In this way, students do not have to repeat content when they move to the next level."

The program with more agreements in place and the largest student enrollments is construction with health science following in second.

For the school year of 2006-2007, was the first time that Tech Prep under the Alaska Tech Prep Consortium had been available.

For the program to be available to students there must be an articulation agreement between the post-secondary agency and the school district identifying the curricula as equivalent.

"Instructors at the post-secondary training agency, the college or university and the school district, meet to review the curriculum of the high school course(s) to determine that the content and skill levels are consistent with the college course.

Once everyone agrees the courses are equivalent, an articulation agreement is reached," Jacobsen said.

Once the articulation agreement is in place, students who enroll in the high school course have the opportunity to register for the concurrent college credit.

Registration takes place during the semester students will complete the college course requirements.

Students need to complete the registration form and pay the $25 per credit fee. Once students have completed the course, they will have a college transcript listing the course, credits, and grade earned.

"All students who registered for college credit successfully completed their courses.

The Tech Prep program can give students who have a clear career objective an opportunity to move forward in career areas while still in high school.

For students who are less sure of career options, it gives them a chance to explore a career in-depth.

All students have to opportunity to demonstrate they can be successful in learning college-level work," Jacobsen said.

"This program gives them a good foundation in the sense that they can survive in a college setting," Hegel said.

"I think everyone who we put through this program is a success story," she said.

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