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Colleges Go to High Schools
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Several Ohio high schools are collaborating with area universities to offer college courses at high school campuses. The effort is designed to reduce the "senior slump," expose students to college work, and help them earn credits and save money. The courses also help high school teachers develop new skills and see the value of setting high expectations. Included: A description of how high schools and colleges work together.

Some Cincinnati high school students are taking college courses without leaving their schools. Instead, college is coming to them.

As part of a collaboration between three Cincinnati high schools and area universities, college professors are teaching college-level courses at the high schools and also training high school faculty to teach the courses.

The program, high school and college administrators said, provides a more challenging senior year for many students and a chance to prove to themselves that they can do college-level work.

"It's a way to help motivate students," said Thomas Shaver, principal of Western Hills High School, one of the participating schools. "It gives students a sense that they can pass college courses, can be successful, and go on after [high] school. It makes high school more relevant. We need more seamless transitions from high school to college."


Western Hills High School is paired with the University of Cincinnati; college faculty members, assisted by high school staff, teach the high school students college-level English, economics, and mathematics.

About 85 students took courses in 2002, and about half took more than one course, Shaver told Education World. Nine courses were offered.

Students paid $10 per quarter to take the courses; the university, the school district, and the Cincinnati Business Committee, a civic organization, picked up the remainder of the cost. At the end of the year, students received a transcript from the University of Cincinnati with their grades. A high school student who took nine courses could end the year with 27 college credits.

"It saves parents some money," Shaver said. "And it helps the university get its foot in the door."

The University of Cincinnati courses also have several advantages over advanced placement (AP) courses, noted Shaver. High school students only can receive college credit for AP courses if they score high enough on a national exam. "The credits are more transferable than the AP scores, and the course grade is not based on just one test," he explained.


Students also get more exposure to college professors' standards, said John Bryan, dean of the University College Division of the University of Cincinnati.

"One reason we were interested in developing this relationship is that many students don't have clear expectations of what they will face in college," Bryan told Education World. "Urban school systems have a poor performance of moving kids into college."

Systemwide, only 38 percent of students in the Cincinnati school district go on to college, according to Bryan. About 35 percent of Western Hills graduates attend college.

The college courses seemed to have affected students' attitudes. One hundred percent of those in the courses who were surveyed said they planned to attend college, Bryan said. About half plan to apply to the University of Cincinnati. "I think it impacts on the perceptions of the entire senior class in terms of being college material."

The courses also helped prevent the senior slump. "A lot of students slack off their senior year, so they are at a bit of a deficit when they start college," Bryan continued. "The expectations are the same for the high school students [as students at the University of Cincinnati.]"

University faculty also have developed a good working relationship with Western Hills teachers, who now have a better understanding of the skills students will need in college, according to Bryan. The high school teachers also have raised the bar in some cases. "We thought the high school faculty expectations sometimes were too low," he said.


Another participating school, Walnut Hills, a competitive public high school, offered an introduction to engineering course in conjunction with the Ohio State University engineering department. It is identical to a course offered at the university.

"We thought it would give our students a nice opportunity to learn something about engineering," Walnut Hills principal Marvin Koenig said. "For the seniors particularly, we should be introducing different types of opportunities."

In 2002, 59 students enrolled: 39 boys and 20 girls. Walnut Hills faculty members trained by Ohio State professors taught the course. Students received high school math or science credit for the course; if they decided to attend Ohio State, they could receive college credit. There was no charge to take the course.

Ohio State administrators also hope the program yields some applicants. "We hope to increase the number of students studying engineering -- particularly women and minorities," said Audeen Fentimen, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and geodetic science at Ohio State. "Whatever engineering field they enter, or any field, the course can be valuable. They work on communications, teamwork, and other skills."

Both Ohio State University and the University of Cincinnati would like to see their programs grow; Ohio State planned to work with another high school in 2003, and the University of Cincinnati was considering offering a biology course at Western Hills in 2003.

The continued university presence in high schools also helps to demystify college, University of Cincinnati's Bryan noted. "The university has a reputation of being daunting and impersonal," he added. "We hope to break down the misperceptions about colleges."