Educators want more high school students to take college classes
PROVIDENCE, R.I. --State educators hope to increase the number of minority and low-income students attending college by having them take some classes while still in high school.
More than 1,000 high school students took courses through Rhode Island College and the University of Rhode Island last year. Hundreds of others attended the Community College of Rhode Island.
But most of those students already plan to attend college after their high school graduation. They also can afford the tuition -- usually $125 to $150 per class -- charged by the state's public colleges.
Peter McWalters, the state's commissioner of elementary and secondary education, said he hopes to help low-income and minority students enroll in college classes as well by providing $500,000 to cover their tuition. He and Jack Warner, the state's commissioner of higher education, said they plan to ask the General Assembly for the money next year.
"Think of the jump you get," Warner said. "A lot of students feel kind of done with high school by junior or senior year and want to get on with it. Why not move them forward when we know they are college ready in their skills?"
Eva Rubinoff, 19, of South Kingstown, said attending the Community College of Rhode Island last year made the difference between being bored and feeling challenged.
She worked 25 hours a week at a sandwich shop and borrowed money from her grandparents to pay $2,600 for eight classes. She earned a 3.6 grade-point-average at the college, while still participating in high school activities. In the fall, she will attend the University of Rhode Island.
"I definitely have an edge, going to college now," Rubinoff said. "I know what to expect from professors, and I know what the classes are like."
Warner said early enrollment programs save students money because some earn enough credits in high school to finish college in three years.
"It also saves the system time and money, because the earlier we can get students through the education pipeline, the quicker we have a graduate in the labor market earning higher wages," he said.
Information from: The Providence Journal, http://www.projo.com/