A new collaboration between Livingston County school districts and the University of Michigan-Flint will allow selected high school students to get a head start on college educations in business, economics, law and criminal justice.
The Dual Enrollment Educational Partnership (D.E.E.P.), which will begin in the fall with spaces for 50 students, will include all high schools in Livingston County, said Robert Hahn, coordinator of K-16 Projects for U of M-Flint.
The program will help prepare high school seniors for their university experience, and classes will take place at the Hartland Educational Support Services Building, 9525 Highland Road, Howell.
This will be cost savings to students and their families. The two-semester program will cost approximately $500, compared to an estimated $5,000-5,100 cost of 12 credits from the University of Michigan-Flint, including tuition, fees and books, Hahn said.
In addition, an anonymous donor has provided for needs-based scholarships to make the approximately $250 per semester more affordable for students who need assistance, said U of M-Flint Chancellor Ruth Person. Person developed the idea for D.E.E.P. while making her weekly trips to Ann Arbor and wondering about Livingston County and its people as she drove through.
"This is really an idea that began in a car," she said.
In June, she met with Hartland Consolidated Schools Superintendent Janet Sifferman and Hartland High School Principal Chuck Hughes. They discussed it, and from there, the idea went to the Livingston County principals' group, who embraced the D.E.E.P. collaboration, Hughes said.
The program will begin in the 2012-13 school year, and it could expand from the two business/economics and law/criminal justice cohorts into other career areas, Hughes said. Students at Hartland High School are in the process of signing up for next year's classes, and many are very excited about D.E.E.P., he said. The program is mostly for seniors, and those who are interested in it can find out more from their school counselor.
HHS senior Emily Kenrick said she is graduating this year, so she won't be able to participate in the D.E.E.P. classes. She said she would like to go into the field of forensic psychology as a career, and she believes the collaboration between Livingston County high schools and U of M-Flint will provide a very good flow for students from high school to college.
"I think it's a really great opportunity for students, especially if they're interested in business or law and criminal justice," Kenrick said.
D.E.E.P. students will take two classes per semester for two semesters, providing their own transportation. They will have the classes on Mondays and Wednesdays, or Tuesdays and Thursdays. It will be during the last three hours of the school day, so students can still finish class before 2:30 p.m. and be able to participate in athletics, band and other after-school activities, Hughes said.
Gavin Johnson, Brighton High School principal, said, "Right now there are no formal structured dual enrollment programs in high schools. That's why this is so exciting."
He explained that when an individual student exhausts the high school curriculum, the schools must pay for that student to take the next course at the college level. And less than five students are currently participating in that dual enrollment option at Brighton High School.
"We built this program and structured it specifically so it can be an offering to kids, that's why it's different," Johnson said.
On the two cohorts of classes, he said, "Right now, we have lots of students who want to be police officers or lawyers, but we don't have a wide variety of those kinds of classes, so it makes a lot of sense. We have some great business classes here, but these are college-level economics and business courses. Students have to fit into these courses, and they have to be serious students interested in these areas of study.
"We're starting out with five seats available in each program for Brighton High School. I'm hoping we fill all five of those seats, Johnson said. "And if there are seats available from other high schools, maybe some more kids here would like to take those courses. I'm thinking we're going to triple our numbers (in dual enrollment) in a year."
Johnson concluded, "This is a trial run with local universities and colleges about programs they can structure for our kids in curriculum areas that we can't offer. For me to start a whole new criminal justice program, I'd have to hire someone who has a criminal justice major, has a teaching certificate and have to buy books. There's a lot of cost to starting a new curriculum, so this is a way for schools to develop creative curriculum and offer more alternatives to kids."
Brighton Editor Nicole Krawcke contributed to this article.