College will start in 11th grade at two Washington, D.C. high schools, reports the Washington Post. Two years after completing 12th grade, students will earn a bachelor’s degree at the University of the District of Columbia. That’s the plan, at any rate, for groups of students from Wilson High School and the School Without Walls.
“I went to Walls and did a survey, and a third of kids raised their hands and said they’d be interested,” (UDC President Allen) Sessoms said, speaking in a meeting with the editorial board of The Washington Post.
Sessoms said he believes most high school students “completely waste their senior year,” biding their time till college or taking college-level courses that they will eventually retake. One problem is a growing reluctance among universities to grant credit for AP or IB courses.
UDC is trying to attract top students from D.C. public schools by establishing a four-year “flagship” program and honors college, the Post reports. The university spun out an open-admissions community college to educate remedial students and offer vocational programs and two-year degrees.
“Only the best, most motivated kids are going to be able to do it,” Sessoms said of the two-year BA model.
While details are sketchy, the program might start with next year’s high school freshmen, who would commit to the pilot at the start of high school.
Interim D.C. schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson wants to offer the program at all high schools. Sessoms wants to start with a pilot.
This seems a little risky, writes Daniel Luzer in College Guide.
Despite the proliferation of honors courses and Advanced Placement credits, it’s pretty difficult for most students to get through college even in four years. It’s possible for UDC to manipulate the rules a little so that students can earn a BA in just two years, but would that really be a college education?
The four-year graduation rate at UDC is only 8 percent, Luzer notes.
To make this work, high school juniors and seniors would have to pass college-level classes in all subjects. That’s quite a stretch, even for good students.