Students graduating from Brown School’s new high school program will soon be doing so after simultaneously earning an associates degree from SUNY Schenectady.
Brown, a private K-12 school in Schenectady, and the city’s community college plan to formally announce a partnership Wednesday to establish a new “college in the high school” program that will effectively function as the culminating years of Brown’s recently-established upper school serving ninth through 12th grade students.
By accelerating high school requirements and beginning college-level courses in 10th grade, under the new program, Brown students would finish most high school requirements by 11th grade and complete the associates degree by the end of 12th grade – graduating in May from community college and in June from high school.
“Students can gain those college credits and for many of the current 10th graders, we are charting the course for them to earn an associates degree alongside their high school diploma from Brown,” said Teresa Burke, director of Brown’s upper school.
By their junior and senior years, the Brown students would take most of their classes at SUNY Schenectady, just as if they were full-time college students, receiving the support from staff at both Brown and the college. After finishing their final year at Brown, the students could then transfer those college credits to most other schools, starting further ahead than most incoming students.
“This really accelerates their work toward a degree,” SUNY Schenectady President Steady Moono said Monday. “It also brings the college into their high school experience.”
Brown School established a high school program three years ago, growing to about a dozen students this year, according to school leaders. The new partnership opens the door to more class offerings for the students, access to college and career advisers and the chance to accumulate college credits. The college courses will be covered under Brown’s tuition – $16,500 at the high school level this year.
“It gives kids the opportunity to have a little bit of a jump up,” said Patti Vitale, head of school at Brown. “We can get them totally immersed in this college experience.”
Some of Brown’s current high school students registered for SUNY Schenectady classes this spring, and the structure of the program will grow as the schools are able to plot out student schedules earlier on in their high school careers. The program will focus on SUNY Schenectady’s core general education classes, but Brown students will have the chance to take classes and explore subjects across the college from music to culinary to the sciences.
SUNY Schenectady works with 26 school districts around the region to enable high school students to take college courses, which can then be used to work toward a degree at SUNY Schenectady or as transfer credits at most other colleges. In many cases, the college courses are taught by certified teachers at the high school. But some smaller programs give the high school students a chance to fully incorporate into the college, taking courses on campus and working toward a full degree. About 1,600 students across the region in the fall took SUNY Schenectady courses while still in high school, said Pamela McCall, director of college and high school partnerships at SUNY Schenectady.
McCall said students who earn their associates degrees while in high school have a head start on four-year college programs. Those extra credits mean students may not have to take the same introductory courses as other students and have more flexibility to double major or a minor in other interest areas. The credits transfer fully to other SUNY schools, and McCall said about 80 percent of SUNY Schenectady credits transfer to other colleges. The students could be on their way to finishing their bachelor’s diploma just two years after graduating from high school.
“At the ripe age of 20, they can have a bachelor’s degree,” McCall said.