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AA degree available at PLHS starting this fall

Pequot Lakes High School (PLHS) has increased the number of college offerings through a partnership with Central Lakes College (CLC).

This increase will allow students to access more than 80 college credits in every core subject area and a wide number of elective courses. Qualified students who earn 60 credits in 10 different goal areas set by CLC can earn their Associates Degree while attending PLHS.

A number of recent studies have reported that college education has risen faster than any other expenditure in the United States. Using CLC “net price estimator,” earning 60 college credits in four semesters, including housing, books and food, would cost a high school graduate $16,185.

Students attending PLHS will pay nothing for tuition or books. This means families can save this $16,185 to apply to the final years of college. Pequot Lakes pays a special rate to deliver affordable credits to students, which saves money for everyone.

One reason why opportunities were expanded is to raise the rigor of coursework at PLHS. Our mission at PLHS is to prepare all students for post-secondary success.

Post-secondary success for some programs is less than 40 percent due to students not being prepared to do “college work.” Today’s work force demands skilled employees.

These skills require that students arrive at post-secondary institutions ready for “college,” no matter if it’s a trades program, a community or technical college or a four-year university.

Our partnership with CLC provides our school an opportunity to deliver rigorous college curriculum that ensures our students are “college ready.” In fact, a recent study conducted by CLC clearly demonstrated that students earning college credit at PLHS and other area high schools outscored students attending CLC.

The requirements to take a college course at PLHS are set by CLC. All students have to apply and be accepted to CLC. All students need to score the minimum required score on the Accuplacer Exam.

In addition, seniors need a 2.5 cumulative GPA and juniors need a 3.0 GPA. Sophomores who are in the top 10 percent of their class who pass the Accuplacer Exam also qualify to take certain college courses at PLHS.

The staff at PLHS has worked extremely hard to meet the articulation requirements set by CLC to deliver the college courses. These staff members work closely with collaborators at CLC to ensure courses at PLHS and CLC are identical in curriculum, assessments and grading.

An AA degree in high school is not for everyone. Students who earn their degree will be considered college juniors when they arrive at a university. These students will need to pick a major as an 18-year-old, which can be difficult for some students.

Additionally, every student who takes a college course will have college transcripts that will follow them to any additional institution, applications to degree programs or required when they apply for a job. Maturity and motivation are extremely important in addition to academic readiness before taking a college course, not to mention earning an AA degree.

As the high school principal, I would like every qualified student to take at least one college course to show them they are “college” material. Every student will require some form of special training when they leave PLHS if they hope to enter a global competitive work force.

PLHS provides an opportunity to deliver some of this critical training while saving families up to $16,185.

(Chip Rankin is Pequot Lakes High School principal.)