By Laura McDonough
Western Pennsylvania high school students may be getting a Youngstown State University education in class next year after the Board of Trustees’ decision to expand the College Credit Plus program into their state.
College Credit Plus is a dual enrollment program that gives high school students a chance to earn college credit and gain firsthand experience with the high academic standards and increased workload associated with a typical college education.
It began as a state initiative, but YSU has created its own program to use funds from Pennsylvania student tuition and expand its dual enrollment services into western Pennsylvania. The state continues to fund Ohio students.
Martin Abraham, provost for YSU, said he thinks the program will be a good investment.
“The reality is that Youngstown sits right on the border between Ohio and Pennsylvania. The objective is to make a good opportunity — that we know is a good opportunity because of our experience working with students from Ohio — to make it available to students in Pennsylvania,” Abraham said.
Abraham drew a comparison between the expansion and the Affordable Tuition Advantage program.
Affordable Tuition Advantage began in the fall of 2013 to reduce the cost of tuition to several out-of-state counties in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New York.
The expansion of the College Credit Plus program will make getting a college education at YSU easier and more affordable for out-of-state high school students.
Karla Krodel, director of College Credit Plus at YSU, said that because most of the courses offered satisfy general education requirements, even if students aren’t sure what they want to major in, students have the option of saving both time and money while also obtaining a richer college experience.
“If they come out of high school and have a bunch of their gen-eds accomplished — and if they still want to stay in college for four years — they’re going to have time to take a lot more courses in areas that interest them,” Krodel said. “Maybe they wouldn’t have taken the time to explore those courses if they were on a four year degree path trying to do everything in just four years as opposed to having gotten a good start.”
Most students pass or excel in their dual enrollment courses. The failure and dropout rates for the program are extremely low.
Ninety-five percent of students who participate in dual enrollment classes move on to college, either at YSU or another school.
Out of those students, many graduate within the standard four years, if not sooner.
Krodel said the program had a cautious beginning with 50 students enrolled in 2005-2006, but has been doing so well lately — with 1,500 students participating and a 25-30 percent growth rate — that the decision to expand was easy.
“President Tressel was visiting campuses in Pennsylvania and several of them expressed interest in the program, and he asked us to investigate that,” Krodel said.
They are still coordinating things with Pennsylvania.
“Before we can actually offer classes, we have to get permission from the Pennsylvania department of education, so I’m currently putting together those applications and hopefully those get reviewed this year and will be approved and ready to start next fall,” Krodel said.
Four high schools will be piloting the program during the 2016-2017 school year: Lawrence County Career and Technical Center, Commodore Perry High School, West Middlesex High School and Mohawk High School.
Tuition per credit hour to participate in the program is $40 for courses offered in the high school by a qualified high school instructor, $80 for a course offered in the high school or online by YSU faculty and $160 for a course offered on YSU’s campus.
The costs include lab, technology and general fees. The state sends an invoice to the school district for review. Upon approval, money from the school’s general fund is sent to YSU as payment.
Most CCP dual enrollment classes are taught in the high school by a qualified teacher and serve as both high school and college credits. However, there are approximately 120 students who attend classes on campus.