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Early College: SPPS Students Earn College Credits, Gain Workforce Skills While Still in High School


Early College student

Posted by Saint Paul Public Schools on January 11, 2018


Sophia, a senior at Washington Technology, was ready to plan her future. She wanted to take college classes and start earning credits towards her degree -- all while still in high school.

But she also wanted her senior year to be special.

“I wanted to stay in high school with my friends and experience the ‘senior year,’ ” Sophia said. “I just wanted to stay here with my friends but still get the college credits.”

When Sophia met with her guidance counselor, she enrolled in College in the Schools, an Early College program where accredited SPPS instructors teach college classes on our high school campuses.

For Andrei, another Washington student, staying on the high school campus wasn’t a priority. Andrei wanted flexibility to accommodate his extracurricular schedule that includes sports and serving in the Minnesota National Guard.

Andrei chose Post Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) for his Early College program, which enrolls SPPS students in college classes on campuses like Saint Paul College or the University of Minnesota.

“Last year my classes took a lot of my time with homework and doing sports, so I wanted to have more free time,” said Andrei. “Having a college schedule is much easier and more flexible.”

With PSEO, Andrei will have earned more than 40 credits toward his Associate of Arts degree before he even receives his SPPS diploma.

PSEO and College in the Schools are just two of several Early College options that SPPS is recognizing this month as part of “Early College Month.”

More than 5,000 students are currently enrolled in Early College options with SPPS — one of only a few urban school districts in the nation where students can earn free college credits through eight different methods while in high school.

“Our goal is to provide students the opportunity to explore college in high school -- and receive college credits,” said Tara Reddinger-Adams, Program Assistant with the Office of College and Career Readiness.

Student career exploration options include everything from finance classes at the Academy of Finance at Como Park Senior High School, to a welding program at Humboldt High School, to construction at Central High School and other programs.

In most cases, students create a personalized plan with their guidance counselors. Working with counselors ensures they meet high school graduation requirements while also finding Early College programs that fit their interests and goals.

Aye Aye, a senior at LEAP High School, is working to become a certified nursing assistant through a program through Saint Paul College. While she’s not sure if she will stay in the medical field, the Early College program allows her to at least get a head start on her credits and, just maybe, a career.

“I’m not 100 percent sure what I will do yet in the future,” said Aye Aye, who recently moved to the United States from Thailand. “But I might be a nurse because I want to go back to my country and help my people. My first goal is to be an interpreter — so I could do both. After getting my nursing assistant certificate, I’ll work two or three years to save some money and then go to college.”

For profiles of students taking part in Early College programs, see the SPPS Facebook page throughout this month.