October 3, 2017
Wearingred shirts with the words “Start close. Go far.” written on the back, nearly 140 College Academy participants joined officials and administrators from both Cypress-Fairbanks ISD and Lone Star College—CyFair in officially kicking off the program and partnership Oct. 3 at Cypress Lakes High School.
Oct. 3, 2017—Cypress-Fairbanks ISD and Lone Star College—CyFair celebrated a partnership that will expedite the process for obtaining a college degree at the College Academy Kick-off on Oct. 3 at Cypress Lakes High School.
Dr. Mark Henry, superintendent of schools at Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, addresses the crowd during the official kickoff of the College Academy, a pilot program at Cypress Lakes High Schools that will enable eligible students to complete their Associate of Science degree from Lone Star College—CyFair before they graduate from high school.
“We have this resource in town—Lone Star College—CyFair—and we’ve been working with them to try and develop a program for early college for our students that is low-cost and gives our students a jumpstart on college credit to hopefully spur them on and make college more affordable to them,” said Dr. Mark Henry, superintendent of schools. “But it was really important for us not to lose the high school experience during this process, so before I would sign off on any program, it had to include the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities and clubs.”
District and LSC—CyFair administrators, CFISD Board of Trustees members and Cypress Lakes students and staff joined in the kick-off, officially launching CFISD’s College Academy pilot program at Cypress Lakes. In the program, initially presented to the CFISD Board in May, eligible students can complete their Associate of Science degree from LSC—CyFair before they graduate from high school.
Dr. Michel Rodriguez-Zuch, dean of academic affairs at Lone Star College—CyFair, speaks during the official kickoff of the College Academy, a pilot program at Cypress Lakes High Schools that will enable eligible students to complete their Associate of Science degree from Lone Star College—CyFair before they graduate from high school.
“We are very excited to be partnering with Lone Star College—CyFair on our first College Academy,” said Dr. Linda Macias, associate superintendent of curriculum, instruction and accountability. “Earning a high school diploma from Cypress-Fairbanks ISD while simultaneously receiving an Associate of Science degree from LSC—CyFair is an opportunity of a lifetime for our College Academy students at Cypress Lakes High School.”
The program is designed so students may take a sequence of college-level courses through the LSC—CyFair dual-credit program, which simultaneously provides credit toward their high school diploma. The number of students enrolled in dual-credit courses at LSC—CyFair has increased since fall 2014 by 37.5 percent. The average number of credit hours taken by dual-credit students in fall 2016 was 5.47.
In fall 2016, LSC—CyFair was ranked the second-largest single campus provider of dual credit in the state with 3,375 students enrolled in the program and 5,999 course enrollments. Fall 2017 course enrollments grew 11 percent to 6,755. The College Academy at Cypress Lakes will begin with the graduating class of 2021.
Officials and administrators from Cypress-Fairbanks ISD and Lone Star College—CyFair pose with the nearly 140 participants in the College Academy. The pilot program at Cypress Lakes High School is designed to allow students to take college-level courses through the LSC—CyFair dual-credit program, which simultaneously provides credit toward their high school diploma.
“Our partnership with Cypress-Fairbanks ISD is one like I have never seen in my 15 years of working in higher education!” said Dr. Seelpa Keshvala, LSC—CyFair president. “Community colleges certainly strive to work collaboratively with their local school districts, but what exists here between LSC-CyFair and CFISD is truly a national model. It is because of the strong, collaborative relationship that exists between our teams that this new dual-credit opportunity has become available for students in our community.”
The cost structure for Lone Star College’s 2017-2018 dual-credit program courses will remain the same as in previous years for all in-district, out-of-district or out-of-state students. Tuition is waived but all other applicable fees will apply. The 2017-2018 LSC fees related to a typical 3-hour course are $72.
Based on the chart above, the cost savings is apparent. However, students and parents not only benefit from the financial savings; they also benefit in time and effort. Students who can complete the 42 hours of core courses while still in high school can graduate with an associate’s degree the December after high school graduation, if they attend school in the summer. They could then transfer into a four-year university the spring after high school graduation as a university junior. Or they can start off as a university junior if completing their associate’s degree through the College Academy.
“You have two years after you’re done here so it’s going to save about half of what you were going to pay. That’s really helpful for my parents,” said Luis Cerda, a freshman at Cypress Lakes and academy participant. “Not a lot of people get the chance to do this so I’m happy that I was chosen as one of the kids.”
The program was made available to eighth-grade students from Thornton and Watkins middle schools beginning in the 2017-2018 academic year. Approximately 175 students submitted applications for the program and of those, 140 met the criteria for selection. Priority was awarded to students who are first generation to attend college, economically disadvantaged, high achievers and underserved.
Reginal Mitchell (green top), principal of Thornton Middle School, poses for photos and visits with former students now attending the College Academy program at Cypress Lakes High School. The pilot program will allow nearly 140 eligible freshmen to complete their Associate of Science degree from Lone Star College—CyFair before they graduate from high school.
Starting in the ninth grade, students would prepare for college ready assessment and begin taking dual credit courses as early as the spring semester of their sophomore year in high school. The dual-credit schedule would continue through their senior years, including opportunities for summer school courses.
Parents from Thornton and Watkins middle schools have already shown tremendous support for the program.
“The College Academy is designed with the purpose of creating a college- and career-ready mindset that offers new opportunities for our students and their families,” said Dr. José Martinez, Watkins principal. “Ultimately, it empowers them to make choices for their future and make a difference in the lives of others to impact their community.”
Reginal Mitchell, principal of Thornton Middle School, added, “This opportunity will then create many more opportunities, such as scholarship offers, the ability to enter a university/college as a junior, possible internships, and the list goes on. The Cypress community is definitely a great place to be in 2017. As our superintendent Dr. Henry states, ‘Opportunity is here for all.’”
“College is now for our students; not a possible dream, but a reality,” Dr. Macias said. “We look forward to expanding the College Academy program to all of our high schools.”