Incoming freshman may qualify for concurrent college credit program

Incoming freshman in the Vilonia School District now may earn an associate's degree by the time they graduate high school.

The cafeteria at Frank Mitchell Intermediate School was full, Monday evening, with parents and students interested in a new partnership with the Vilonia School District and the University of Arkansas Little Rock allowing incoming ninth graders, at Vilonia’s Freshman Academy, to begin taking college courses.

The Vilonia Board of Education, last week, gave the nod of approval regarding the concurrent enrollment program.

Nick Steele, specialist, and Mary Elizabeth Woolery, coordinator, representing UA Little Rock, were on hand, Monday night, for an informational meeting regarding the application and enrollment process. Also, in attendance were Cathy Riggins, assistant superintendent, Ronnie Simmons, FA principal, Matt Sewell, high school principal and counselors Ramona Smith (FA) and Jolene Sanders (VHS).

Woolery addressed the program components. Vilonia officials and UA officials, she said, have been working together about nine months to solidify the program. The college classes will be taught by college accredited teachers who are already on the Vilonia staff.

“It is pretty impressive that you have qualified teachers already on staff to teach college credits,” she said.  The college credits, she said, will be transferrable to any college in the state.

The college courses will cost $50 per class, she added. On a college campus, she said, the cost could equal to about $750 per class.

“Don’t you think this is a bargain,” she said. “You have the opportunity to graduate with a lot of college courses behind you.”  

Steele interjected that “concurrent enrollment is the wave of the future.”

However, it is not for all students, Riggins said. Also, she said, there is no pressure for students to take.  Yet, she said, is a great opportunity for those who qualify and “chose to follow the plan.”

Eligibility includes that the student must have a composite score of 21 on the ACT including a score of 21 in reading, 21 in math and 19 in English.

Students were told that college officials will be back in August to help with site registration. Between now and then, students may apply online at apply.ualr.edu/hsc 

Those filling in the application should know four things, officials said, including the student is a part-time student. They will not be taking online classes and they must have their social security number to fill out the application. There is no charge to apply.

Once accepted, students will be receive help in choosing classes. Also, they will be shown how to check their email. No payments are due until Nov. 15. As well, Sept. 15, is the deadline to drop classes.

The classes that will be available to FCA students will include Introduction to music appreciation, introduction to computers and introduction to political science.  A student, completing the four years, will have earned credits for an associate’s degree in general studies which, officials said, will ultimately lead to the students being eligible for additional scholarship opportunities.

Officials also said they “have the students’ best interest at heart,” implementing the program.  Students may drop the college courses but they still must follow through with high school courses to graduate high school.

Chromebooks were made available for those wanting to apply following the informational meeting.

It was also said that upper classmen may take the courses if their are additional slots available. However, the freshmen have priority.