The open enrollment program lets students who might not otherwise attend college combine high school classes with college-level courses.
“Our at-risk students and our (economically disadvantaged) students are our target populations; however, early college high school is open to all,” program coordinator Ashley Bernard told the MFISD Board of Trustees on Nov. 13.
Students who take full advantage of the program’s offerings will receive an associate’s degree from Northeast Lakeview College after completing 60 hours of college courses.
“They’re both college students and high school students at the same time,” Bernard said.
Other paths are available for students seeking lighter course loads.
“We would love for most of our students to (take 60 hours), but you can be an early college high school student with a wide variety of college hours,” she said. “It’s really about what works best for you and your family and what you want to do in high school.”
The program will not impact participation in extracurricular activities.
“They can be involved in as many activities at the high school as they want while also being an early college high school student,” Bernard said.
A summer bridge program will help acclimate early college high school students to higher learning.
“It’s almost like a freshman orientation week,” Bernard said. “It’s how to be a college student, getting them enrolled with Northeast Lakeview College, doing some fun team-bonding experiences with them, and then taking them to San Antonio to tour the campus and to have their student ID made.”
Instructors in the program must be qualified by the Alamo College District, a five-college network based in Bexar County, which includes Northeast Lakeview College. Teachers must have a master’s degree and at least 18 hours of college credits in the subject or for the content they teach.
“We have a ton of highly educated staff, which is super exciting,” Bernard said. “Just in the secondary alone, we have 130 staff members with a master’s degree, which is cool.”
If MFISD doesn’t have anyone qualified to teach a given course, students will attend class virtually and learn from an Alamo College District professor.
“One of our goals is to have our teachers teach these dual-credit courses,” Bernard said. “They know our families, they know our kids, they know our systems.”
Credits obtained from the courses will be valid for nearly all in-state universities.
“We did a lot of research on the classes that Northeast Lakeview says we need to take,” Bernard said. “We pooled the top 10 schools our kids go to after high school and then made sure they transfer those specific credits so that we’re not wasting their time and our money.”