College in the high school has caught on at Lynden High School, turning what would otherwise have been 13 nondescript class periods next year into full-blown college classes. And complete with college credit, of course.
In an effort to offer a growing diversity of courses and challenges for the students of LHS, along with meeting the needs of students who want to earn college credit while still in high school but who don’t want either the pressure of an AP exam or having to leave the LHS campus, the school has upped the offerings of its college in the high school program to 13 next year.
Through this setup, Lynden has partnered with three state colleges and universities—the University of Washington, Central Washington University and Everett Community College—to offer a college course over a year of high school. At an average of $210 for five credits, compared the $600 if students took the course outside of high school, LHS students can get an economic entry into college.
“It gives a student the ability to still be connected to a high school setting and it takes a college course and spreads it over a year instead of a quarter,” says Chris Elsner, high school counselor. “They get a difficult course on their transcript, which looks great, but they also can do well.”
The program started about five years ago at LHS with just three courses. It has grown to the eight of this year and the expected 13 of next year. Open to any student in grades 10 through 12, LHS sees students interested in the rigor and in ultimately reducing the cost of college. For students in financial need, the counseling center has opportunities to help devise a plan to keep the students in the college in high school program.
LHS teachers still lead the course, working in conjunction with mentorship programs at the higher-education institutions so they remain aligned with the proper curriculum. Those teaching for UW and CWU also must have a master’s degree in the field of study.
Next year, as the offerings grow, so does the variety. From UW, expect to see everything from computer programming (two sections) to global warming and wildlife to addiction and the brain. Pre-calculus is offered through CWU and Everett courses include world civilization, anatomy, intro to chemistry, U.S. history, ceramics, comparative religions and criminal justice.
“I feel like college in the high school has caught on,” Elsner says. And being able to pull from college curriculum furthers the diversity in the LHS curriculum with classes such as criminal justice. “This shift to the new schedule, it allows for innovative ideas and we can survey the students to find their passions and offer fields of study to meet those needs through college courses.”
Erin Shaffer, high school counselor, says she’s interested to see how the college in high school program continues to grow over the next couple of years as she see what really excites the students.
This program works for the teachers too, who love retaining college-focused students on campus and enjoy the opportunity to teach college-level courses.
LHS still offers seven AP (advanced placement) classes with the traditional model of students choosing to take a test at the end of the course, which, depending on the results, potentially earns them college credit.
But what has really sparked a renewed interest in higher-level learning comes from the college in high school.
“College in high school keeps more students on campus,” Elsner says, “and gives them a greater opportunity.”