By Patrick Walsh, Hutchinson High School Principal
Hutchinson HS is not just the place where students prepare for college; it is the place where they begin college. Adjusting our academic expectations from being a high school student to being a college student can be abrupt for teenagers. Just because a student meets enrollment criteria does not necessarily mean that they are ready for full-time enrollment. Students can get more college-ready by taking TigerPath electives and earning really good grades in high school. It’s always important to remember that your college transcript is truly a forever document. Students having a full understanding of what to pursue in the post-secondary world is very, very important. Due to state requirements, these electives are hard to fit in until your junior or senior year.
At HHS, students build toward full-time college enrollment through our College 1-2-3 program! With College 1-2-3, students begin by taking ONE college/advanced course the first year, then adding ONE additional course when ready. If successful, students continue to add college courses until they are enrolled full-time. We believe this is a best route for the high majority of our students. There are simply too many cases of students getting overwhelmed in their first college experiences otherwise. Our students may well be in the workforce until they are 70 years old. The skills you master early will give them the greatest portability in the workforce later on.
There are other concerns when making the decision to take college offerings. Going to college, at any grade level, reduces the opportunities a student has to build the academic and vocational skills found in programs like our TigerPath Academies. Being in college can limit the time needed for the social and emotional growth needed to move towards adulthood. This may prematurely get a student too deeply into their college path. We seldom recommend full-time college enrollment for any of our high school students. Our philosophy is certainly oriented towards college credit, but not at the expense of additional skills and experience.
We currently have employers in Hutchinson who are scanning our high school students for the skills they sorely need in the workforce. Students not on campus do not have the same chance to gain those skills and lack the daily connection to our counselors and advisors.
By the senior year, we feel that ALL seniors should be earning at least some college credit at some level, and can do so on the HS campus. By that time, some of our students may even be able to be close to fully enrolled in college classes offered at the HS.
Students at Hutchinson HS can earn 1 to 2 years of college credits without leaving the building. On campus, we offer college credit in three ways–Articulated credit, Concurrent Enrollment classes and Advanced Placement courses.
Articulated credit courses offer credit to students when they enroll at a particular post-secondary institution. Typically, these students are enrolled in 2-year programs out of high school. Concurrent Enrollment courses are college courses taught by high school teachers. Advanced Placement courses are nationally-recognized college courses taught by high school instructors.
In addition to earning college credit that may save students and families money, there are a number of other advantages that make College 1-2-3 the preferred choice for students to start and continue with their college path.
- Families save on transportation and food expenses by staying on the HS campus.
- Students take college-credit classes with your high school aged peers.
- College-enrolled students on HS campus have many of the same freedoms that off-campus students have–college study, online RAMP and flex time.
- High school teachers continue to be available for support. High School teachers offer personalized assistance and have reliable availability.
- Continued enrollment in the high school allows students to build their skill development through TigerPath Academies in courses that will continue to add sorely-needed skills to their resume. This opens up internship and mentorship possibilities that can be helpful to continue to build skills and open up scholarship opportunities.
We have a world-class high school as a great option for all of our students. Students can gain academic freedom, earn college credit, and participate in an environment with high school teachers that is supportive and personalized. College 1-2-3–that’s the way we count at Hutchinson High School!