The Muncie Journal recently met with Chris Conley, Principal of Delta High School to find out more about the “University of Delta High School” program.
Muncie Journal: What is the University of Delta High School program and how did that get started?
Chris Conley: Our early college program here at Delta High School is called the “University of Delta High School.” About three years ago we got involved with a group from the University of Indianapolis who sponsors early college. We’ve had a long tradition of dual credit here at Delta, and this was a way to organize that dual credit. We formulated it into some streams so students can use it effectively at the collegiate level.
Muncie Journal: How many students are in the program?
Chris Conley: This past year, 81% of our graduates in 2015 had some sort of college credit when they walked across the stage at Emens. 47% had already completed a semester of college. For next year, 64% of our seniors are already enrolled for dual credit. 54% at both a sophomore and junior levels will be enrolled and almost 20% of our freshmen will be enrolled.
Chris Conley: Dual credit is high school credit that is also college credit. For example we teach Ball State 103, 104 writing classes. If a student takes 103 and 104 here and matriculates to Ball State, he or she already has the two required writing classes completed. The University of Delta High School offers over 104 hours of college credit right here on the Delta High School campus.
Muncie Journal: What other kinds of classes are offered for duel credit?
Chris Conley: We have two partners right now, Ball State and Ivy Tech. The University of Delta High School offers World History through Ball state, Speech through Ball State, and we offer American History through Ivy Tech. We’ll also offer pre-engineering classes. Those are called Project Lead the Way. Those courses are all dual credit through Ivy Tech. We also have construction classes that are dual credit through Ivy Tech. And we have a senior English level class other than 103, 104, that’s dual credit through Ivy Tech. We really have a wide variety and are trying to incorporate dual credits into almost every curricular area.
Muncie Journal: Do students take the courses at special hours?
Chris Conley: Students take courses here, during the day. Classes are during the student’s normal schedule. So, we are a five-days-a-week, seven-period-a-day school.
We offer a class, Anatomy and Physiology, that’s through Ball State. It meets five days a week here on campus. That class, if held at Ball State, might meet two or three times for their three hours of college credit. Here, students meet five hours a week. Our students do get a little bit more intense in what they study and have more time to do it. So for us, it’s a normal high school schedule from 8:30am to 3:30pm.
Muncie Journal: What are the some of the benefits of the program for students?
Chris Conley: I think there’s a couple of things. One that everybody wants to hang their hat on is the cost savings. We estimate the cost savings, for the class of 2014, in tuition costs alone was almost a half a million dollars. Ivy Tech classes taken here are free.
We figure for the class of 2015, that just graduated, we are probably closer to that half a million dollars just in tuition savings alone. So that’s an important thing.
Another benefit for students is that our program allows them to get involved at the collegiate level faster into their anticipated major. Many of the classes we’re teaching are pre-requisites or general studies classes. So, students can get those classes out of the way before they go to college and then once they get to college, they can get right into what they want to study. And that, hopefully, will cut down the amount of time they have to spend in school. Not only are we getting them credited at a reduced rate, but hopefully we are cutting down the time they spend on campus at either a two or four year college.
I think the most important thing is how our program prepares students academically for college. Where ever you go to college, you are a college student…and the classes may be small… but you’re STILL a college student and there are certain expectations. There’s probably not the “support-net” at college that we do have here at the high school.
Students have a teacher that they have seen around the building for 3 years or longer. So, I think there’s just that added support. We are a bridge between high school curriculum and expectations and college curriculum and expectations.
Muncie Journal: If there is one final thought you’d like people to know, what would it be?
Chris Conley: Well, I think it’s important that people realize this just isn’t just a bunch a dual credit classes that we’re offering. There is a program to it. There are avenues internally to move kids towards it. Our goal is to give our students experience at the collegiate level in some way.
And, I think we are achieving that goal.