This fall junior and senior students at Spring Independent School District's Spring, Westfield and DeKaney High Schools will be able to take college courses at Lone Star College-North Harris along with their traditional high school classes.
The new Accelerated College Program, patterned after Early College programs offered elsewhere in Houston and around the state, gives students an opportunity to earn college credits at below-tuition costs as a way of kick-starting their college education.
Charlotte Twardowski, LSC-North Harris program manager for College Connections, said the Spring Independent School District has long been a partner with the college in other areas.
"This program allows Spring ISD students to take three classes on our campus, two on Monday-Wednesday-Friday and one on Tuesday-Thursday. Once they've attended morning classes at the college, they go back to their high school campus to finish the day," Twardowski explained. "It allows students to go beyond the usual curriculum, taking from one to five college credit classes each semester."
Bob Thompson, Executive Director Secondary Education for Spring ISD said, "The school's interest in partnering with Lone Star College-North Harris in the development of the Accelerated College Program is rooted in our efforts to expand educational opportunities for our students. With the Accelerated College Program, we are working to make college a reality for all children. Of special emphasis, is the outreach to students who will be first generation high school graduates or college graduates. Spring ISD's students have long benefited from our relationship with Lone Star College-North Harris. After talking with the students during the first days of this program, it was obvious that they were excited with the sessions on the college campus. We are looking forward to the growth of this program and reaching more students.
Students eligible for the new program are identified by the end of their sophomore year and are then notified by letter, asking whether or not they would be interested.
"Students and their parents then attend an informational meeting, where they learn more about the program and what is expected from the student, their parents, the college and the school district," said Twardowski. "Once applications for the program are received, they are reviewed by an admissions committee that looks at attendance, discipline, courses the student has taken, and their grade point average."
Spring ISD students who begin the program their junior year could complete their college core courses and earn up to 60 hours of college credit by the time they graduate.
Students involved in the Accelerated College program arrive at their high school campus by 6:50 a.m. and buses are provided to transport them to the North Harris campus, where their classes begin at 7:30 a.m.
"If they are taking the dual credit English taught on the LSC-North Harris campus, students may take up to five dual credit classes per semester," the program manager said.
She emphasized the new program is designed for individual students who are focused on academics and who are not involved in extracurricular activities. "Students involved in sports or other extracurricular programs often are required to travel to competitions," Twardowski explained, "and many have sports classes at first period."
Students admitted to the Accelerated College High School Program take the COMPASS college placement test and must score on college level.
The new program targeted 25 students on participating Spring ISD high school campuses, beginning in fall 2008 and Twardowski said there could be additional places as the number of applications for the program increases.
"Right now we have almost 40 applications, representing all three campuses," Twardowski said. "The program is so non-traditional, it takes a while for everyone to understand it."
Students accepted into the program are entitled to all student services offered at the LSC-North Harris campus, including tutoring, career planning, job referrals and all campus activities.
"Our goal is to help students who are accepted into the program see the value of going to college and we're there to help them take that first step, register for that first class, and then offer support all along the way," the program director said.
Spring ISD has a long-standing partnership with North Harris, including Campus Connection counselors, a strong dual credit program and a number of students who take classes after school and on Saturdays.
"We realize high school students who also take college work are tremendously committed to their education," Twardowski said. "There's more rigor in their course work, more required of these students and Spring ISD has been more than supportive so that each student can succeed."
By having a strong support system from the school district and the college, working together, the students have someone encouraging, guiding and directing them so they can continue on the path to their college education. "Through our partnership with Spring ISD, we are able to see students holistically and assure they are taking the best route to achieve their academic and career goals," she added.
For more information about Accelerated College Program, call 281.765.7835.
Lone Star College-North Harris is located at 2700 W.W. Thorne Drive, one-half mile south of FM 1960 E, between Aldine-Westfield and Hardy Roads. For more information about the college, call 281.618.5400 or visit: NorthHarris.LoneStar.edu.
Lone Star College System consists of five colleges, including CyFair, Kingwood, Montgomery, North Harris, and Tomball, six centers and Lone Star College-University Center. It is the largest college system in the Houston area, and third largest community college district in Texas. To learn more, visit LoneStar.edu.
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