Crossroads Alternative High School students now have the opportunity to get “on course” for college and earn college credits thanks to a new partnership with Anoka-Ramsey Community College (ARCC).
“On Course: Strategies for Creating Success in College and in Life” was taught at Crossroads for eight weeks from January to March. Eighteen students signed up for the course and 15 successfully completed the work and earned college credits.
The class was taught at Crossroads by Jaimie Lopez, the grant manager and director of testing services at ARCC.
Crossroads is the second Anoka-Hennepin School District high school to provide this opportunity to students.
Lopez had taught the course to Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) students at Coon Rapids High School (CRHS) last fall.
During a meeting with Patricia Halsey, a Crossroads work experience teacher, Lopez mentioned her work at CRHS.
Crossroads staff were keen to offer this opportunity to their students, too.
The goal of the course is to help students understand what is necessary to succeed not only in college academics, but life as well.
According to the class description, successful people develop particular qualities that motivate them, make them good team players and generally empower them to live joyfully and responsibly. The class taught students study skills and explored intrapersonal traits like emotional intelligence and motivation. Although taught at the high school, the course had the same rigor and expectations as if students were taking it at ARCC.
The course, textbook and the college credits the students earned were provided to the high school students by ARCC free of charge.
Lopez said the credits can be applied toward a students’ education at ARCC. The students can ask other colleges to review the syllabus and award the credits.
Because an ARCC course is 15 to 16 hours and On Course taught in high schools is eight hours, Lopez said it is a “hybrid” class.
In addition to meeting in a classroom, students were required to do work online.
Lopez said that has actually turned out to be a great opportunity for students.
“In college, more and more classes have an online component and use Desire2Learn (D2L),” Lopez said of the online learning management system used by the Minnesota State College and University system (MnSCU).
“Through On Course, students have had a chance to learn about D2L. If they go somewhere else, they’ll be prepared to navigate their online system.”
According to Lopez, the work between the Anoka-Hennepin high schools and ARCC is important.
“It’s an opportunity to expose high school students to college work and help them be more successful once they get to college,” Lopez said.
“On Course also gives students a lot of general skills and fits in well with both what AVID and Crossroads are teaching their students.”
For Lopez, the students’ response to the class has been amazing. “It’s great to see them put together what it means to be successful and the strategy to use to get there,” Lopez said.
“It’s rewarding to hear the students talk about what they’ve learned and to see their confidence grow.”
Arielle Singleton and Luke Larson are two Crossroads seniors who took On Course. Both students were impacted by the experience.
Once behind in high school credits, Singleton will now graduate on time. She plans to attend a local college and then transfer to St. Cloud Technical and Community College to study to be an ultrasound technician.
Before On Course, Larson said he didn’t have the confidence to go to college.
“But now I can do that,” he said. “I learned the tools for self-motivation, I believe in myself and I can do it.”
Larson now plans to attend ARCC for an associate of arts degree in music and then transfer to St. Cloud State University or Minnesota State University, Mankato, to earn a degree in music theory. His eventual goal is to become a teacher and choral conductor.
Lopez said both Crossroads and CRHS have expressed an interest in On Course being taught in their schools again.
Singleton and Larson both said they will recommend the class to others. “It does help you get ready for college,” Singleton said. “And people notice a change in you after you take it.”
“On Course gives you a good insight into what to do in different situations and helps you to become a more successful, motivated person,” Larson said. “It was fun to discover new things about you. I hope to see the course get into different schools in our district.”