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High Schoolers Among Us

By Laura Lin
On September 17, 2018

High schoolers mix with college freshmen in Psychology 101.
Photo Courtesy of Laura Buchanan

This fall semester Concord University launched a new program, a partnership that allows high school students to attend Concord just like a “regular” college student. These students are able to attend a class or two at dual credit pricing while earning college credit and experiencing college life. They were given a choice of about five different entry level classes such as Psychology 101, Human Geography, and Intro to Business Both Princeton Senior High School and Pikeview High School are taking part in this pilot program with approximately 12 students represented, a number that exceeded expectations.

Though Falco was aware that there might be some high school students in her psychology class, she had no way of knowing precisely who they were. The students have not been identified as high school students to Falco, thus providing them with an “uncensored experience,” one of the goals of the program.

Dr. Peter Viscusi, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, explained that the identification of the students are kept confidential in order to “even the playing field” and give them an “authentic feel” in their college experience.

So far, all four students I spoke with have voiced the opinion that they are enjoying college life far more than their high school one. Bryce Mutterback of Princeton Senior High School confessed that college is “very different from high school.” Bryce said the main differences were the freedom and respect that they receive on Concord’s campus. “I have more independence at Concord than I do at my own high school,” stated Hannah Cooke, also of Princeton Senior High School.

The partnership program requires that students meet their high school’s credits and be approved by both the guidance counselor and the Mercer County Board of Education. Throughout the semester, they will juggle their studies at both schools in addition to any extracurricular activities. Cooke explained that there are “greater expectations that come with college classes” and finding the time to study and work on assignments can be challenging.

In a required orientation with the incoming students, Dr. Viscusi addressed such demands. Most of the students are only taking one class, thus leaving them with open mornings on other days. Dr. Viscusi advised them to make use of this “illusion” of free time to study. He informed the small high school group of the campus library, the free tutoring programs Concord offers, and other available resources.

Dr. Falco states that she has not adjusted her teaching style and requirements because of the addition of the high schoolers. In fact, Falco says that she “suspects the students coming from the high school are highly motivated” simply because of their desire to participate. Both Hannah and Caitlin Buchanan, both Princeton Senior High School students, saw the program as an opportunity to get a few college credits out of the way before even starting their university journeys.

Bryce sees the program as an opportunity to “experience college before college” in a safe and gradual way instead of being overwhelmed. “Many don’t have that stepping stone into college,” commented Dr. Falco.

Princeton Senior High School student Emily Bailey saw another advantage to the program, this one financial. “[College] is going to be really expensive,” she remarked. Dr. Viscusi explained that the typical college course costs about a thousand dollars, and that a typical Advanced Placement test that many students will take is $90. The partnership program costs $75 a class.

The four students, Dr. Falco, and Dr. Viscusi have a genuine love for this program. All four students expressed a desire to come back in the spring if their high school schedules allow it. “I will definitely do it again next semester,” stated Caitlin.

Dr. Viscusi says that, because the block scheduling at the high school changes in the spring, new time slots may be offered to the students as well as different courses, something the students hoped to see. The students expressed a desire for a larger class selection that includes fine arts and math classes.

The program may also be a win for Concord. By exposing them to the experience, they may have a desire to attend after graduation.

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