BKW could one day offer college courses in high school

BERNE — The Berne-Knox-Westerlo school district is currently working with the State University of New York College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill to look at different options for the two academic programs to work together. One option could be classes designed for a student to earn a college degree one year early by taking those classes at a reduced tuition rate in high school.

“We’re still in the process of building a partnership,” explained the SUNY Cobleskill provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, Dr. Sue Zimmermann.

Zimmermann said that SUNY Cobleskill established this type of college-in-the-high-school program at the Cobleskill-Richmondville Central School District last fall. There, students can begin taking college courses around sophomore year, but occasionally freshman year.

The courses are offered at about one-third of the original cost, about $50 per credit hour, or $150 per three-credit course, said Zimmermann. Once they begin college, students are scheduled to finish a year early — one year for an associate’s degree, and three years for a bachelor’s. The credits are transferable to any SUNY school, and may transfer to a private or out-of-state college upon review, said Zimmermann.

“It takes time off their degree; it saves them money,” she said. She added that this is also a means of getting students who may not have considered college to take these courses and see it as an option.

There are currently five “pathways” of various courses offered to obtain a degree a year early: agricultural-business, graphic design, environmental studies, business, and accounting.

Six months ago, SUNY Cobleskill officials began meeting with the superintendents of school districts in and around Schoharie County, including BKW.

“I think it’s an area where we share the same common goals,” noted Zimmermann.

At Cobleskill-Richmondville, SUNY Cobleskill brought in its own staff to meet with the high school teachers, in order to discuss how such college courses would be taught. Should a school like BKW decide to implement a similar program, such a meeting would likely take place, said Zimmermann.

Zimmermann said that SUNY Cobleskill is looking at schools in the surrounding areas in part because these districts share similar goals of providing college courses to their students, but also because it is important in rural areas.

“We’re trying to continue to build opportunities so they have similar opportunities to students who may live in more-populated areas,” she said, “where they have, perhaps, greater access to higher education.”

 

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