Another dual-enrollment program, Post University’s High School Academy, offers eight-week accelerated online classes, 16-week classes taught in high schools by specially trained high-school instructors, and 16-week classes on the Post campus in Waterbury, Conn.
The academy, in its current form, is only a few years old, but it has achieved impressive growth, in part because Covid lockdowns drew students to its small 15-student classes. In 2019 it had 10 students from four partner schools; now it has 350 students from 27 partner schools, 24 in Connecticut, one in Massachusetts and two in Texas, says Chad McGuire, Post’s director of the academy and continuing education. The academy is in talks with New York City public schools as well.
Many of the students are from low- income families. Some are working toward an associate degree in accounting, marketing, management, early-childhood studies, criminal justice, or legal studies. Others earn 30-credit certification in paralegal studies, or assemble various health-studies or other classes to explore a range of fields and get started on their bachelor’s degrees.
Post worked with local school officials to decide those degree and credit pathways. “We did that collaboratively,”
says Verna Ruffin, superintendent of Waterbury Public Schools, “and we also took a really good dive into the economic development and the career strands that were of particular interest for the area.”
Post charges $300 per course, but schools usually cover part or all of that because if they are public, losing a student will cost them about $14,000 in enrollment-based funding, McGuire says. The academy is a recruiting tool in that its participants, if they choose to enroll at Post, get a 20-percent tuition reduction renewable for all four years.
The High School Academy is particularly attractive to self-motivated, hard-charging students like Gabrielle Bynum.
Bynum and her two younger siblings have been raised in West Haven and New Haven, Conn., by a single-parent mother working as a licensed practical nurse and studying for her RN degree. Bynum wrestles with anxiety and depression but finds academics therapeutic. “School has been my life pretty much forever,” she says. During the Covid lockdown, she doubled down on those studies. “There was nothing else to do. It was definitely a moment to just keep my head in the books.” Bynum soared through her Post dual- enrollment credits, earning her bachelor’s degree by the end of her senior year of high school. “I’m earning a free bachelor’s degree right now,” she thought to herself, deepening her motivation even more. She says it was an opportunity for her “to become first generation and do things my mom hasn’t had a chance to do.”
By Alexander C. Kafka
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