One of the main goals of Dallas ISD is to graduate students who are college and career ready. For many of us, this means ensuring that our young people have obtained the best K-12 instruction and support possible to allow them to compete after departing our halls.
That’s a tried-and-true concept that has benefited many of our students. However, what if we were able to provide the best K-12 education AND provide students with a head start on their collegiate pathway? The great news in Dallas ISD is that we can and will, through the district’s new collegiate academies.
In fall 2016, the district will expand its early college high school model by adding eight new collegiate academies. These are opportunities for students to graduate high school with a college degree prepared to enter their chosen career. Those young people that complete this program will more qualified for a career and to advance in their collegiate endeavors than their peers locally, across Texas and in many parts of the nation.
STUDENTS WILL BE HALF WAY TO A BACHELOR’S DEGREE
Here’s how important this is for Dallas students. First, they would graduate with an Associate of Applied Science degree, tuition free, while in high school. This means they will be half way toward earning a bachelor’s degree as soon as they walk across the stage here in Dallas ISD. And, they’ll do it without crushing student debt that could derail their goals and dreams.
Second, they’ll start college at a four-year university already having completed two years in high school, thereby earning a four-year degree in less time than their peers. Instead of simply competing for admission as a freshman, they will be more attractive academically as they apply to universities. This will open doors that a high school diploma simply would not.
Once they leave our halls, they will enter the job market with a work-ready skill upon completion of high school.
Third, once they leave our halls, they will enter the job market with a work-ready skill upon completion of high school. They also will become familiar with the effort required to successfully complete college level coursework while a high school student.
In all, that’s a more authentic example of graduating students that are college and career ready. In particular, I’m excited because the collegiate academies will create opportunities for student who may have struggled to advance to post-secondary education because of finances or a true understanding of the pathways available to them. Dallas ISD, in conjunction with the Dallas County Community College District, is able to clear the route to higher education for a new and diverse class of students.
The opportunity is now and I’m encouraging our students to take advantage of it. The collegiate academies will serve incoming ninth-grade students who have the determination to attend college, are first-generation college students, and have been historically underrepresented in higher education. Approximately 100 ninth-grade students will enter the program every year, so timing is always crucial.
Once accepted into the program, they will move together as a cohort during their high school career. Each collegiate academy will have a higher education partner and offer its own academic pathway ranging from health sciences, information technology and cyber security to culinary arts, animal sciences, law enforcement, and others.
STUDENTS EMBRACING THE POSSIBILITIES
Now is the time to become informed and encourage our students to embrace the possibilities available with a college education. I’m excited because I know how hungry our students are for success, and what the collegiate academies are able to offer them.
I’m grateful that both Dallas ISD and DCCCD have the vision and desire to push our students further, so they can achieve more. To learn more, please visit http://dallasisd.org/collegiateacademies.
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Photo: Flickr/Creative Commons/Dave Herholz