VALPARAISO | An agreement approved Wednesday by the Valparaiso Community Schools Board with Purdue University North Central will enable Valparaiso High School students to skip their freshman year of college.
The two-year agreement, which a university official said was unique in the nation, builds on the program first inaugurated by the two schools in 2009 of offering college credit courses at the high school.
Students who complete the courses with at least a C grade or better are given credit at PNC and some other universities.
The new agreement, called the 1+3 Program, will offer up to 30 courses that can be used toward the requirements of a biology, business, human relations or general education degree. Students could take enough course to complete all the requirements for their freshman year at PNC and start as sophomores at the university.
Valparaiso High School Principal Reid Amones said the program offers students many benefits starting with greatly reducing the cost of a college education. Most of the college credit courses offered at the high school cost $25 per credit hour while some are $105 per credit hour. Those same courses if taken at PNC cost $229 an hour.
Amones said the program also will give high school students more direction in deciding on a career and get them into the workforce a year earlier.
The university has agreements with six other local schools for concurrent enrollment programs. Valparaiso's has grown from 94 students taking almost 900 credit hours in 2009 to 295 students accumulating almost 1,800 credit hours this school year.
"We want to increase the number of people in the workforce with college degrees to more than 60 percent," PNC Chancellor James Dworkin said. "It is about 35 percent now."
Board President Mark Maassel said that estimate might be "generous."
Superintendent Michael Berta said, "I see this as a very tangible experience that will answer the question what we can do to better prepare kids for college and the workforce."
The agreement is limited to two years at the university's request because it has not been done before.
The board approved the agreement unanimously and signed the papers to start it as soon as possible.