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Students sign up for college classes -- in high school

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news Woodbury, 55125
Woodbury Minnesota 8420 City Centre Drive 55125

Imagine starting on your college degree before you even step off your high school campus.

That's the offer being made to students at Woodbury High School this September.

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Principal Linda Plante is overseeing the introduction of a new program called College in the Schools (CIS), which sees students taking University of Minnesota accredited classes as part of their high school studies.

It means that a student could leave Woodbury High School with six credits already earned towards their degree.

The university currently recommends that students take 15 credits per year to graduate in four years.

The CIS classes will initially be offered in psychology, Spanish and French, and it's anticipated that German will also be an option. Plante expects to see the range expanding in years to come.

"It's a program whereby students who are still in the building will be taking coursework that will give them credits towards graduation here, and also give them college credits which will be transferable," she explained.

"We decided to offer College in the Schools classes in areas where we didn't offer Advanced Placement classes."

For Plante, the addition of psychology is a major benefit to students.

"Psychology is always a requirement at college," she said. "So, I thought here we had something where we could have kids getting to college with that requirement under their belts already. I think that's a big deal."

To be accredited by the University of Minnesota, all faculty involved in teaching the classes must undergo a thorough application process and interview before being accepted into what is basically an adjunct professor position.

All texts, teaching methods and class sizes must also be approved by the university before the program can begin.

Sandra Marmesh, head of social studies at Woodbury High School, will be teaching the CIS psychology classes and believes they will offer a great opportunity to kids, exposing them to real college courses while earning them credit.

"I love psychology, so I am excited for the training and reading that I will participate in this summer to prepare for teaching this course," she added.

"I also had the experience of taking CIS classes when I was in high school a long time ago, and so I understand how this can benefit the kids, not only with free credits but learning about the college experience without the other freshman learning experiences such as, 'Where's the cafeteria?', 'Where's the science building?'"

The cost to the school is $145 per student per class, which looks set to adding up to about $5,000 per class extra cost to the school district.

The going rate for a three-credit class, however, is estimated by Plante to be $1,500 to $1,600, so she points out parents and students are getting a great deal by signing up for the courses.

"The response has been almost completely unanimous," added Plante. "Why wouldn't you do it? It's more rigorous, but you get part of your college education for free and while you are here."

COLLEGE IN THE SCHOOLS FACTS

• Accredited by the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships

• Uses same texts, teaching style and assessment methods as college courses

• Earns students transferable college credits - for free - while still in high school

• Awards each student three credits per CIS course taken

• About 100 schools around Minnesota are already participating in the U of M's CIS program

• Courses offered range from animal science and calculus to American history and Hebrew

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