Traditional images of the typical college student are a thing of the past.
As classes started Monday at Central Lakes College (CLC), officials say more and more it’s not just college students filling the class seats — it’s also high schoolers.
“The lines between secondary and post-secondary education are really merging. The lines are blurring. I’ve been told the high school senior year is probably going to merge into first year of college,” said Betsy Picciano, director of secondary relations at CLC.
The days of the “senior slide” are dwindling, Picciano said. Instead, the last year of high school is becoming more of a college preparation time.
“It’s for all students, not just the high flyers,” she said.
CLC’s Brainerd campus has 3,087 students registered as of the first day of the semester, compared with 3,487 last year, according to the Academic Affairs Office. Officials expect enrollment to increase over the next month as college-in-the schools registrations are processed.
High school students, who meet specific requirements, can pick from five advanced learning options with CLC.
• PSEO/Concurrent enrollment (College in the Schools): Students take college courses at their high school.
• Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO): Students take college courses at one of Central Lakes College’s campuses.
• Advanced Standing Articulation Agreements: Through articulation agreements between CLC and the high schools, students earn college credit in Central Lakes College career and technical programs for specific courses taken at the high school.
• Bridges Career Academies and Workplace Connection: The program provides high school students work force exploration and preparation for regional high skill, high demand careers.
• Advanced placement and international baccalaureate: Through AP’s college-level courses and exams, students earn college credit and advanced placement. Students who participated in an IB Program may earn college credit based on qualified IB examination scores and IB diploma.
Advanced education in high school is becoming an increasingly popular trend, officials say, as students look to save money on college tuition and strive to gain that extra post-secondary experience.
Programs are really starting to gain momentum, Picciano said, as high schools search for ways to improve opportunities for students.
Pequot Lakes High School is in its first year of offering an associate of arts degree program.
“The four-year idea of education is not for everyone, but success after high school is,” said Tracy Tschida, a general psychology and American government teacher at Pequot Lakes High School. “These programs help reach that success.”
The school’s program will continue to draw in “multiple different types of learners,” she said.
At Aitkin High School, counselor Nicole Doyle said more classes are offered, but the number of students taking them is staying about the same.
“A lot of students want that head start to complete that degree,” she said.
It also serves as an encouragement for younger students who see the upperclassman succeeding, she added.
Popularity in the PSEO program at Pine River-Backus High School is decreasing, while the College in Schools program thrives, said counselor Mary Ruth Sigan. She attributes that to the 30-minute drive between the campuses.
Sigan sees the programs growing in the near future.
“It gets kids excited about education,” she said. “It makes them strive.”
Randy Swanhorst, a health educator at Crosby-Ironton High School, says CIS programs are important because it keeps the students in school, while still offering the advanced classes.
“I think they should stay in the school,” he said. “There’s the social aspects that go along with school.”
Popularity of college courses continues to expand at C-I, he said.
“There’s a certain amount of pride that comes with (the college classes),” he said. “It shows young people what they can do. It adds to their achievement.”
Whatever the draw is for students, these advanced courses in high school can account for up to 20 college credit hours earned before even graduating high school, Picciano said.
“They are really gaining college knowledge,” she said. “They are really learning what it’s like to be a college student and the responsibility that goes with that.”
She added, “The lines are blurring between high school senior and college freshman.”