Helping students get a jump on college

April 4, 2009 4:52:42 PM PDT
In just a few months, thousands of teenagers around Houston will start their college educations. Some will soon get a jump on the curriculums, preparing for careers. It's a new program in Alief ISD. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

Jasmine Smith is only in 8th grade, but she and her mother are already planning for her college years, and even her career.

"On my last report card, I didn't get any C's. I got straight A's and B's," said Jasmine.

Jasmine hopes to become a pediatrician someday and what she's doing right now could help her reach that goal.

She's one of 120 students expected to enroll in Alief ISD's new early college high school program. The program targets students who are academically ahead but who may be at risk of not attending college for financial or other reasons.

Students who enroll in this program can begin taking college-level courses as early as the 9th grade and they can earn up to two years of college credit or an associate's degree by the time they graduate.

"It gives me a big head start. I wouldn't have to worry about anything for the first two years," said Jasmine.

Her mother, Edna Smith, knows the value of a college education, but as a single parent she says paying for four years of college would be a big obstacle.

"The way college is now, we're talking about $10,000 or so per year, especially if they go away to some other college in Texas. That's a big cut in my budget if I couldn't get loans and couldn't get grants," said Edna.

The program which is a partnership with Houston Community College, has already yielded promising results in Houston ISD, but it is new to the Alief district where more than 70% of students are identified by the state as underprivileged.

Beginning in August, the inaugural class will get to name their new school and even choose its mascot. For parents like Edna Smith, it could be a chance to help her child's dream come true.

"I am very proud of her!" said Edna.

If you are interested in getting your child enrolled in the program, there is still time. The application deadline for the Alief ISD early college high school program is April 15.

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