USU-Moab makes changes to help local high school students earn college credit
by Laura Haley
Contributing Writer
Dec 05, 2013 | 2063 views | 0 0 comments | 56 56 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In an increasingly competitive economy, many believe that a college education has become more and more important. However, according to recent studies, the average student graduating with a bachelor’s degree leaves school with $26,600 in student loan debt. Steve Hawks, dean of Utah State University’s Moab campus, said he’s hoping to help local students reduce that debt.

Hawks recently told the Grand County Board of Education that USU-Moab has now reworked its schedule for concurrent enrollment classes that Grand County High School students can take to earn college credits before high school graduation.

“We needed to do more and do a better job,” Hawks said.

He said that of his four kids who graduated from GCHS, none of them had taken any concurrent enrollment classes. He’s hoping to change that now.

Hawks presented a new schedule of classes that will be available to juniors and seniors at GCHS. The class offerings include a variety of subjects such as psychology, geology and theater, in addition to more common classes like English and math.

If students were to complete all of the concurrent enrollment classes offered, they would fully complete their freshman year of college, as well as taking all of the general education credits they needed, Hawks said.

To be eligible to enroll in the classes, juniors must have a 3.5 GPA, he said. Hawks estimated that roughly one-third of the current junior class at GCHS is eligible. There is a $40 application fee, and each credit hour costs $5, which makes the cost of each class $15, he said.

Hawks said the classes are scheduled so that every class could be completed if a student begins in his or her junior year. He estimated that students in their junior year should be able to fit in one class each trimester, while most seniors can take two classes.

“By finishing their first year of college while still in high school, they can save $5,170,” Hawks said. “The challenge is helping students figure out how to apply.”

Hawks said there are currently 63 GCHS students taking concurrent enrollment classes, but he hopes to see that number climb.

“Our goal is to create a culture of education,” he said.

Grand County School District Superintendent Scott Crane has been involved in the planning stages for several months. He praised the new approach.

“It’s impressive to me that USU realizes that you don’t just throw college classes at kids,” Crane said.

Hawks said that USU-Moab is continuing to expand its offerings. While the school has generally served non-traditional students, its role in the community is changing, he said. Hawks said more students are staying in town to pursue an associate degree. The school now offers 15 different bachelors degree options.

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