Kiddies on campus

Instructors raise concerns over early admission students

Erick Fredendall

A recent discussion between SC4 educators over an email chain highlights a growing concern amongst faculty over the increase in high school students on campus.
The question at the heart of the discussion: are high school students mature enough to handle college courses?
SC4 high school college attendees, or early admission students, are divided into four categories: the Blue Water Middle College Academy (BWMCA), Croswell-Lexington Early College (CL5), dual enrollment, and high school guest students.
According to Martha Pennington, SC4 Marketing Manager, out of the 4,151 enrolled students in the 2014 winter semester, 19.4 percent are early admission.
A recent prediction by Student Services estimated that percentage to rise to above 20 percent of the student-body in SC4’s fall 2014 semester.
Many educators, including Jeff Torricelli, Professor of English, are concerned.
“I believe it is implicit in a college teacher’s contract that we reasonably expect to teach either high school degreed students, GED’s, or students old enough to have experience in the adult world, said Torricelli, “20 percent is unreasonable.”
Distinguishing between the different programs, Torricelli also concluded that one of the prominent issues with early admission students is coming from the St. Clair County Regional Educational Service Agency’s (RESA) sponsored program, the BWMCA, and its open acceptance procedures.
In an overview of the BWMCA found on the RESA website, the document states no minimum grade or assessment criteria must be met to be accepted into the program. A recommended 2.75 GPA or higher is suggested to be indicative of whether students are capable of handling introductory college level coursework, although the synopsis concludes that the decision falls down to a well-informed student and the parents or guardians to enroll.
To Torricelli, the lack of standards for acceptance into the program is detrimental for the college.
“The CL5 was constructed much better. They selected the students, they were honor students, and they were prepared,” said Torricelli, “in the middle college, these parents and students see the words ‘free college’ and push straight ahead.”
Korren Phillips, a fifth year BWMCA student, agrees with Torricelli’s assessment on the BWMCA.
“I think there should be better testing. I’ve been in it for three years now and I see the younger classes falling behind. They don’t take their education as seriously because they’re not paying for it,” said Phillips.
Current enrollment in the BWMC is 394 students, who cumulatively possess a 3.0 GPA and a 95 percent year-to-year retention rate.
Dan McCarty, Instructor of Business Administration, sees the issue, but speaks positively of the early admission students he has been exposed to.
“The question is ‘is their behavior appropriate and should we do something about it? I have had nothing but good experiences with the high school student in my classes,’” McCarty said. “If you ask an English instructor or someone who deals with younger students, you’ll probably get a different answer.”
According to McCarty, avoiding lowering academic standards should be a main priority for the college, but competing for the early admission students is crucial to SC4’s fiscal wellbeing.
“Financially, we need them here. They are a large portion of our student base.”
A faculty meeting was scheduled for Wed., April 23, after press time, to discuss ways to address early admission students.

Above: Chart representing student age groups at SC4. The CL5 program started in the fall 2010 semester, and the BWMCA began the following year, in the fall 2011 semester.

Above: Chart representing student age groups at SC4. The CL5 program started in the fall 2010 semester, and the BWMCA began the following year, in the fall 2011 semester.

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