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As part of an effort to make an easier integration and transition from high school to college, UK has started a new dual credit program that teaches college courses in local Kentucky high schools.

The UK Next Generation Scholars program began its three-year pilot this spring with four schools: STEAM Academy, Paris High School, Elkhorn Crossing School and Marshall County High School.

Juniors and seniors who are recommended by their guidance counselor for the program can take up to 10 classes to earn up to a year’s worth of college credit. The current classes being taught in the pilot are HIS 109, EPE 174, WRD 110 and WRD 111.

“What’s unique about our approach to dual credit is that high schools not only work with UK but also with the Center for Next Generation Leadership in the College of Education to work on the design of the high school to promote a broader college-going culture,” program director Justin Bathon said.

UK has other colleges committed to the program such as the College of Design, Education and various programs in the College of Arts and Sciences including history, writing and rhetoric.

One class that is planned to be taught next fall are the CIS courses. According to Bathon, these courses have been the most requested by high schools to be a part of the program. Current CIS lecturer Joe Martin will be the main instructor for the course.

“One of the cool things about this is it shows students what it’s like to be a student at UK,” Martin said.

The classes are taught with a regular college schedule (Monday-Wednesday-Friday or Tuesday-Thursday) and replace what regular math or English class, for example, the student would normally take. The UK professor is the main instructor who teaches through Zoom, a Skype-like, teleconferencing application, but a high school teacher also plays a role in teaching the rest of the curriculum. The classes have a fee of $58.

The program has been met with some challenges of trying to teach the courses synchronously across the multiple sites, but so far the pilot has been going well and the teachers are satisfied with it.

Although the Center was founded in 2011 and has worked on high school improvement ever since, this is the first time it has implemented a dual-credit program of this level, the first in the nation, according to Bathon.

“We help high schools make opportunities available to more students of poverty, color, special needs, English learners so they are not pointed away from college,” Bathon said. “It’s a really big positive step for the University because we’re making UK accessible for more kids.”

Three to six new schools might be added next year if everything goes as planned. Bathon views this as the next generation of high school and an important step in the transition from high school to college.

“There’s always room for advancement. UK is a large flagship school and I think that there’s a lot of movement in the University to look towards the future,” Martin said.