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College courses offered to Armstrong high school students at bargain prices

| Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014, 12:51 a.m.

Armstrong School District officials want to get more juniors and seniors ready for life after high school by helping them earn college credits before they graduate.

School officials are reaching out to parents during Back to School Nights to explain the advantages of a program that allows students to take college courses while in high school. The courses are offered at a per-credit cost about 75 percent less than what colleges involved in the program charge their students. The district for several years has received a state grant that has been used to fully reimburse parents whose children complete courses.

“These classes really help give our students real college experiences while they're still in high school,” said Shauna Braun-Zukowski, the district's director of secondary curriculum. “Education is all about preparing students for the future, so we see this as another opportunity to help them prepare.”

About 20 students in the school district took dual enrollment courses last year.

“We're trying to attract more because it's a great opportunity to not only get credit at a reduced rate, but it is also a nice introduction to college-level work,” guidance counselor Corrin Linkes said. “Depending upon how many courses a student takes, they could essentially take a semester worth of classes before enrolling in college.”

The district offers 34 college-level classes in subjects such as English, mathematics, language arts and geography. The classes are taught by faculty members of Butler County Community College, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Clarion University. Credits earned by taking the classes can be transferred to most university and college programs, Braun-Zukowski said.

Each class has a different cost, depending on which college offers it. For example, a three-credit course if taken at Clarion University is $852, so the cost would be $213 in the dual enrollment program. Three credits cost $669 at Butler County Community College, making the dual enrollment price $167.

Reimbursement of the cost of books and tuition by the Ready to Learn Block Grant is divided evenly among participants who complete courses in the program.

“For the last several years, the funding has covered all of the students' costs,” Braun-Zukowski said. “That has made this a real bargain.”

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1337, or bpedersen@tribweb.com.

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