The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Heidi Zemach
For The LOG 

College classes now open for high school juniors

 

Heidi Zemach | For The LOG

Jackie Pepi Marshall, KPC's Resurrection Bay Extension Site Coordinator, at her office in Seward High School.

Seward High School juniors, as well as seniors will now be able to get a jump start on college by taking evening classes at the high school through the Kenai Peninsula College Resurrection Bay Extension Site JumpStart/duel credit program. They, and their parents can save a lot by attending this subsidized program, compared with taking the same general educational courses at the KPC campus or places like Western Washington University or Michigan State University. Students can take up to 30 college credits, seven per semester, starting in the fall of their junior year, and including the summer semester between their junior and senior years.

Students are only accepted into the jumpstart program by placing high enough on their SAT, ACT, or ACCUPLACER tests, provided that the course is deemed appropriate by their teachers and counselor as part of their current activity load.

KPC Resurrection Bay Extension Site Coordinator Jackie Marshall, and Seward High School's counselor Martha Fleming, learned of the change only a week or two ago. They have been looking into additional duel-credit college class offerings next fall that would complement those already offered at the high school, given student interest and the availability of qualified adjunct faculty. At this stage it looks like some sort of new math class, taught by SHS's Stephanie Cronin, might be a possibility. But finding qualified adjunct faculty, and adequate interest has often been a challenge, they said. To be hired as adjunct faculty, one needs to have a master's degree in the subject area in which they are teaching.

Finding new classes, new teachers and rearranging schedules is a difficult problem to be faced with, and the number of classes offered and students taking them probably won't increase overnight, Fleming said. But it's a good problem to have, and a move that will be very good for KPC, and also for the high school students who chose to enroll as classes are a great preparation for attending college after graduation, and are also a great way to save on the future cost of college, she said.

The jumpstart program costs $55 per credit, versus $174 per credit at KPC's regular tuition rate, and $750 per credit at Western Washington University, or $1,127 per credit at Michigan State.

Fifteen Seward High School students are currently taking evening college classes through the KPC's jumpstart program. Nine are enrolled in Intro to Literature, and six are enrolled in General Psychology. If they get at least a C in those classes, they will receive credits within the University of Alaska system, and possibly other colleges and universities.

This is a fairly low number of students, said Marshall. As a comparison, in the fall of 2012 there were 20 students enrolled in a single English class. And Marshall remembers a time many years ago that there were as many as 100 enrolled. Since then, KPC's normal Jumpstart class minimum of 12 students has been reduced in Seward to six students, which actually lends itself to smaller class sizes, and a more intensive learning experience for those taking the classes, she said.

Class enrollment rises and falls depending on the student interest, their academic capabilities and readiness, their schedules, and of course, the ability to pay.

"We are the University of Alaska on the Peninsula," explained Marshall. "We are not a community college." UAA has three major university centers; Juneau, Fairbanks and Anchorage, and each of those has extensions that serve outlying communities within its region. The Kenai Peninsula College system, with 2,655 students enrolled has the Kenai River Campus, in Soldotna, which now has a new 96-bed dormitory; the Kachemak Bay Campus in Homer, the Anchorage Extension Site, and the Resurrection Bay Extension Site in Seward. Marshall's office is in Seward High School.

Fall 2014 offerings with the jumpstart program include six classes; Intro to English Composition, taught by adjunct faculty Dan Marshall, Jackie's husband and SHS English teacher, plus a web-based Writing Strategies course. There's also Intro to College Writing, offered by adjunct faculty Sean Ulman, and Intro to American Government, by Robert Thomas, another web-based course. Gail Burnard teaches two yoga classes, which accounts for the majority of those enrolled who aren't high-school students.

The extension classes have seen fewer Seward-community-based students enroll lately, but Marshall is always hoping to grow to address the interest and needs of the larger community. The Resurrection Bay site has offered 500 professional development classes for teachers for their certification, for example. Marshall also provides ACCUPLACER/placement testing for AVTEC students planning to attend UAA, for prospective students in the maritime industry, and any others who need it for their jobs or placement in higher education.

High school students who attend soon learn that these classes are more demanding and challenging than most high-school courses, Marshall said. She enjoys watching how seriously students take the classes, once challenged.

"I think it's also important for students to not only look at taking these college classes as a means to an end, such as for duel credit or to earn college credits, but that there is just value to taking a class outside of their regular high school system, value as a bridge between high school and college. They're taking a college class, getting a feel for the pace of college class, the workload and time management for handling it once a week. And it gives them the opportunity, in a familiar setting, to expand themselves a little bit."

"Some colleges accept these credits. Some don't. But even if the college doesn't accept the credits, it gives students a better understanding of what a college class could be like – the readings, the writings, the tests, the discourse," adds former KPC adjunct faculty member Doug Capra. "It's not just a matter of saving money. Some students will still take the same course in college. I've had students tell me that they got an A in the class at college, the same one they took as a high school student. They would have gotten a C or a B, they said, but because much of it was review, they got that A.

Those interested in registering for classes, or teaching, can contact Jackie Marshall at 224-2285 or jjpepimrshall@kpc.alaska.edu

 

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