For the first time since its inception in 2007, Victory Early College welcomed a senior class to campus for the upcoming school year. The collaboration between Aldine ISD and Lone Star College-North Harris offers students the opportunity to simultaneously earn high school and college credit, and is housed in the same building as the college’s LSC-Carver Center.
Starting as a grant-funded initiative three years ago with a freshman class of 105, the program is now funded solely by LSC-North Harris and Aldine ISD, and is attracting more applicants every year. Two hundred and twenty-five students vied for a spot in the class of 2014. Following a rigorous application process, including an essay on why they want to attend, 115 were selected.
A new freshmen class is accepted each year, making this also the first time that the school will have students from all four high school grade levels walking its halls.
These students sacrifice the typical high school experience including band, football, and cheerleading, opting instead for a significant head start on a college education.
"It’s incredible to see how hard these students have worked the past three years. It is absolutely a life-changing experience for them," said Charlotte Twardowski, program manager for College Connections at LSC-North Harris.
In fact, it appears that most of the soon-to-be graduates from Victory Early College will have already achieved what many of their peers are just beginning. Thirty-one of the 48 remaining seniors are on track to complete a full associate of arts degree by the spring.
"These were not the students who would have been in the top ten percent of their classes and otherwise be heading off to college after graduation. When we look for applicants for the program, we are targeting those students in the middle 60 percent. Those with a ton of potential, but who need an opportunity to realize it and the encouragement to accomplish more than they thought possible," added Twardowski.
Approximately 76 percent of the students are from low socio-economic status and 72 percent are first generation college students. Students at Victory Early College do not have to pay for tuition to attend the school or to earn college credit.
Their success also extends beyond completing college coursework. Victory students excelled with their 2009-2010, TAKS scores. One hundred percent of them passed the Reading/ELA and Social Studies sections, while 98 percent did the same on Math and Science. And, they held their first National Honor Society induction last spring.
Students in the program take advantage of traditional high school courses, dual credit courses, and even participate in college-only courses with Lone Star College students at both LSC-Carver Center and LSC-North Harris. While the typical UIL-sponsored events are not available to them, student clubs and organizations, student government and a specially-designed leadership academy are a part of the Victory Early College experience.
"A lot of people put in a lot of time and hard work developing Victory Early College, and we continue to review the data and try to make improvements. However, just seeing the transformation that these kids have gone through, and the confidence they have in their abilities after three years, is clearly confirmation of the program’s success," said Twardowski.
Lone Star College-North Harris is located at 2700 W.W. Thorne Drive, one-half mile south of FM 1960 East, between Aldine-Westfield and Hardy Roads. For more information about the college, call 281.618.5400 or visit LoneStar.edu/NorthHarris.
With more than 62,000 students in credit classes in spring 2010, and a total enrollment of nearly 85,000, Lone Star College System is the largest institution of higher education in the Houston area, and the second largest and the fastest-growing community college system in Texas. LSCS consists of five colleges including LSC-CyFair, LSC-Kingwood, LSC-Montgomery, LSC-North Harris, and LSC-Tomball, six centers, LSC-University Park, LSC-University Center at Montgomery, LSC-University Center at University Park, Lone Star Corporate College, and LSC-Online. To learn more visit LoneStar.edu.