Through college credit courses and associate degree programs, students at two Scott County high schools are graduating more prepared for the workforce and for a four-year degree program.
“Students who complete the program earn an associate degree in general studies. The degree will allow them to enter college with approximately two year’s worth of college credits, which is a huge time/money saving opportunity. Students who go straight to the workforce with this degree can expect to earn a better wage,” said Keri Hammons, liaison for Austin High School’s Academy Program and Media Center Specialist.
For years, the two high schools — AHS and Scottsburg High School — have offered students the opportunity to earn college credits before graduating high school.
For the last six years, AHS not only offered college credits but created the Academy Program where students, starting in the graduating class of 2013, would earn an Associate of General Studies upon successful completion of the program. Before creating the Academy Program, AHS offered college credit courses for students. During the morning school hours, the Academy Program is taught by AHS faculty, Hammons said. In the afternoons, college professors on loan take teach the college credit courses.
“We use a combination of AHS teachers and professors on loan for the Academy program. This combination allows us the flexibility to offer the best variety of courses,” Hammons said. “The goal of the program is to give students a jumpstart on college as well as an opportunity to earn higher wages in the workforce.”
For many years, SHS offered more than 100 college credit hours for students to earn, and in the last year, the administration, guidance department, and Ivy Tech officials worked together to bring students multiple pathways. The new pathways include a path for students to earn an Associate of General Studies; a path for students to earn 30 college credits toward a Statewide Transfer General Education Core; and a path for students that is fully customizable, so the student chooses which college course offerings that best align with their plans after high school graduation. SHS is also working with Ivy Tech to finalize a certificate in welding and advanced manufacturing. This welding and advanced manufacturing path will allow students to earn a certificate to use in the workforce after graduation.
“This decision is not one size fits all,” said Shannon Mount, college and career counselor at Scott County School District 2.
“We will work with students, one-on-one, to figure out what path is best for them,” SHS Principal Ric Manns said.
The college courses in these new pathways will continue to be taught by SHS staff, who are highly-qualified, Ivy Tech credentialed, Mount said.
“Having our staff teach the majority of our college classes is what makes our model unique. Our teachers know our students and can push them and support them while taking rigorous courses,” Mount said.
Beyond the new pathways and academy program, SHS and AHS are pursuing certification to become an Early College High School. Currently, no Early College High Schools are located in the southeast Indiana region. This Early College High School model is through the University of Indianapolis’ Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning and is different from the programs currently offered in Scott County. The Early College High School model combines high school and college in a way that is rigorous but supportive while allowing students to earn a high school diploma and complete their first two years of college.