SANTA ROSA, Calif., May 15, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Because of the impact of COVID 19, many Sonoma County high school seniors are being forced to rethink their college plans. Although many started the school year with hopes of attending their dream colleges, the dual impact of the pandemic and the Kincaid fires has caused many to reconsider their options. Many students are reluctant to attend college away from home, and a number of families have experienced significant financial upheaval. Given this, many students need additional financial aid in order to attend college and are very reluctant to take on the significant school debt required to attend college. In addition, with colleges canceling summer classes and not yet certain about whether they will even offer in-person fall classes, many college-bound seniors are considering deferring college for a year.
In two Sonoma County districts - Windsor Unified School District and West Sonoma County Union High School Districts - students have access to an innovative college pathway program that the districts adopted earlier this year. The program, called MicroCollege, enables high seniors to remain enrolled for a fifth year while attending college classes taught by college professors at a MicroCollege campus in Santa Rosa. Students can complete up to 10 transferable general education classes, which are the classes that most college students complete during their freshman year. In addition, during the 11-month program students receive over 500 hours of academic coaching and guidance counseling at a 10 to 1 student to staff ratio.
The Microcollege program is free to both the students and the Districts. Since students remain enrolled in the Districts, the Districts collect ADA (average daily attendance) revenue from the state for each student that is used to fund the program.
The program also provides students with all books, materials, and a laptop computer that students can keep at the end of the program. WSCUHSD Superintendent Toni Beal stated that "In addition to offering students a year of college at no cost, MicroCollege provides students intensive tutoring and wraparound services so that they can learn how to be successful when they start college. Given the unprecedented events of the past few months, there are many more students who could benefit from the program than our initial target group."
MicroCollege is being run by Honors Pathway, a social venture headquartered in Oakland, CA in partnership with William Jessup University, a private university in Rocklin, CA. MicroCollege, which has been operating in Northern California for three years, was initially planning to serve students who were not yet college-ready. After discussions with school district officials over the past few weeks, Honors Pathway and William Jessup University have revamped the program and agreed to serve all of this year's high school seniors who wish to participate. "We are pleased that Microcollege is in a position to serve as a safe harbor for high school seniors and their families who are trying to navigate the transition from high school to college during this crisis," said Gene Wade, CEO of Honors Pathway.
For students who are academically advanced or have successfully completed AP classes, MicroCollege will offer more advanced general education classes. WUSD Superintendent Dr. Brandon Krueger stated that "Before the COVID 19 crisis we gave all high school seniors access to MicroCollege and several dozen registered to enroll in the program. With the onset of COVID 19, we are glad that we had the program in place as an option to help our high school seniors make a successful transition to college."
In addition to saving students money, MicroCollege has several unique benefits. Because it is a dual enrollment program, the college grades earned by students increase their high school GPAs, helping them gain admission to more competitive schools. Students who attend MicroCollege will not have to wait two (or more) years to apply to a UC or CSU after graduating high school and can apply this fall for admission during the subsequent school year. And – as a sign of the times – MicroCollege classes are in-person but "online-enabled", meaning that the program can switch to online mode instantly if necessary. Every student receives a free laptop with a webcam, class materials are distributed digitally, and the program uses an integrated learning management system, which enables classes to be taught in person or online (if needed).
"We know that this is a stressful time for our seniors and their families to navigate the college transition. We see MicroCollege as a practical solution to help students make progress towards a college degree," said Superintendent Beal.
To learn more about the program visit: www.microcollege.info or contact your high school counselor.
About the Organization
Honors Pathway, PBC
Headquartered in Oakland, California, Honors Pathway (www.honorspathway.org), is a social venture committed to helping students successfully transition from high school to college and launch professional careers. Honors Pathway partners with public school districts and a growing network of private universities to operate MicroCollege sites where students can attend their first year of college at no cost.
Email: [email protected]
SOURCE Honors Pathway, Inc.