Trustees simplify UNA Early College program payments

Have you ever had a high school student in one of your classes and wondered what they are doing there?

Chances are, they are a part of the Early College program, a program for high school students designed to give them a jump-start on college by offering classes at reduced rates.

“It is a way to help students who are in high school get a few classes under their belt, to see what college is all about, to help make sure they are college-ready coming out of high school and to give them a taste of college so they would consider coming to UNA and consider pursuing a college career,” said Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Christopher Maynard.

The university wanted to simplify the billing process for high school students and parents, Maynard said. Instead of paying $150-plus fees, students now pay a flat $250 fee, he said.

“(For) some classes it would be slightly more, (and for) some classes it would be slightly less,” Maynard said. “It just depends on what kind of fees are associated with that class.”

The program is not for every student, said trustee Libby Jordan, chair of the Academic Affairs and Student Life Committee for the board of trustees.

If the student’s grades are good and they think they can handle the workload, then the program has many benefits, she said.

“It will help them in the long run when they leave high school (and) move on to college,” Jordan said. “For them to have these college credits ahead of time is going to save them a tremendous amount of money.”

Instead of not knowing exactly how much tuition and fees are going to cost, parents and students will know the amount and be able to budget, Jordan said.

“They can plan ahead because they’ll have this one set fee of tuition that includes everything,” she said.

High school students and their parents have a hard time understanding the price differences in college courses taught at high schools, on-campus at UNA and online, Maynard said.

“We didn’t want the amount to fluctuate from location to location,” Maynard said.

High school students also have the option of taking college courses within the comfort of their high school through the First 30 program, Maynard said.

“All the students at that high school are taking the same class,” Maynard said. “It’s not as intimidating because they’re taking a class with all of their high school classmates. Whereas our other Early College courses oftentimes have both college and high school students in the same class.”

Deshler High School senior Sean Minetree is taking a government class online this semester and took Introduction to Sociology last semester with Deshler senior Maggie Inman.

“I thought it would be a great experience to figure out what college is like before I go there,” Inman said.

She said she thought the fee was reasonable for the college credit she received.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for Deshler,” Minetree said. “I just wanted to try to get ahead as much as I could before I got started. If I’m going to be in school for the next four years, I want to get ahead as much as I can.”

He said he thinks learning more about a college environment while in high school is important.

“Our professor, (Andrea) Hunt, was fantastic,” he said. “She was a perfect example of what’s going to be different between a high school teacher and college professor.”

Although the Early College program is beneficial because it allows students to graduate early, it might not be for everyone, said senior James Rainey.

“Their young age may present difficulties in a more mature learning environment,” Rainey said.

UNA offers First 30 students additional support in their college-level classes and attend orientation during the summer, Maynard said.

“We go over even things as basic as how to use Canvas, what resources are available on campus in terms of the library, writing center, math tutoring center,” Maynard said.