By Les Jones:
High school students of Amarillo Independent School District can now work toward earning a full general studies associate degree from Amarillo College.
On March 19, 2018, AC President Russell Lowery-Hart and AISD Superintendent Dana West signed a partnership between AISD and AC’s Diplomas and Degrees Program. This will allow students to begin working toward a college degree as early as their high school freshman year.
“We are thrilled to be able to provide this opportunity to AISD, which has the largest population of students in the Panhandle,” said Jason Norman, AC’s director of P-16 career pathways advisement and co-director of dual credit.
The program will begin for AISD in the fall semester of 2018. Students wanting to participate will have to sign a contract, be Texas Success Initiative Assessment compliant and maintain a 2.0 grade-point average.
High school students wanting to pursue the general studies associate degree must be sure it is what they want to do during their years as high school students. “The key to success is students must communicate with their parents and guidance counselors to be absolutely sure that this is what they want to pursue because this is a very strenuous program,” said Dana West, AISD superintendent.
Diplomas and Degrees will benefit students by giving them a head start on their college education, and will save students’ families money since each credit hour costs $50.
It will also give high school students a glimpse of what college life is like. “This program will show them how to be college students and how to succeed as college students,” said Becky Burton, AC’s dean of academic outreach and support service.
Several high schools in the surrounding area are already taking part in the Diplomas and Degrees program, Highland Park High, Bushland High and River Road High.
Despite the harsh schedule of being a high school student taking college courses, the students are succeeding. “We have several students in the Diplomas and Degrees program and they are on track,” said Amy Frances, River Road High School guidance counselor.