School district offers early college program with $3 million grant

March 4, 2011 at 10:02 p.m.
Updated March 3, 2011 at 9:04 p.m.

The Victoria school district is seeking high school freshmen for a new early college program that will allow students to graduate high school with a college associate degree.

The program, housed in Liberty Academy, is made possible by a $3 million federal grant and aims to have students graduate from high school with both a high school diploma and an associate degree. Interested students can apply for the program until Tuesday.

The district will partner with Victoria College and students will be able to transfer their college credits to virtually any university in the nation.

The grant funds will pay for the tuition, fees, and books for incoming high school freshmen to begin earning college credits. By remaining active in the Early College Center, students can conceivably earn the credits needed during high school to also earn a college associate degree.

Because the grant is of limited duration, the goal is to get as many students who are capable of college level work to enroll at this time to take advantage of the financial benefits.

"Our goal is to be able to continue with the financial incentives when the grant funding ends," Liberty Academy principal Sherri Hathaway said. "But even if the funding options are limited, families will be able to save substantial amounts of money by sending their child to school during high school."

Hathaway emphasized that early college is not for everyone. "Students who sign up for this program must be ready to take on very rigorous course work," she said. "Motivation is a key to success, as is a very strong foundation in academics. Not every child is cut out for college at the age of 14."

Hathaway noted administrators "are searching for incoming freshmen who are capable of completing a rigorous curriculum, but are falling short of their potential. Many of these students may be from low-income or minority families and may be the first in their families to attend college. Students and parents must be committed to academic goals and willing to make necessary sacrifices."

Liberty Academy does not offer sports or fine arts activities, but students can participate in interest-based clubs and activities. The focus of the school is on academics.

Students will be required to take and pass the Texas Higher Education Assessment this spring. Students who are unable to pass test will be offered additional tutoring before taking the college-level courses.



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