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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Early Opportunity Scholarships (EOS)

Here's how students can earn scholarships of a different sort by taking on the challenges offered right at EOSHS. 

EOSHS has been, for several years now, offering University of Connecticut (UC) courses through the Early College Experience (ECE) Program.  The ECE Program, formerly known as the Cooperative Extension Program, offers several UC courses to high schools in CT provided that instructors teaching these courses are certified by the UC department offering the course(s).  For example, Advanced Economics at EOS is the equivalent of Economics 1202 on campus and is taught by an instructor (Mr. David O’Connor) who has been approved – based upon academic credentials – by the Economics Department at UC.  With twenty-six UC courses in the EOS curriculum (the most offered among all high schools in CT – the average for CT high schools is 5.7 courses), eligible students are granted the opportunity to earn college credits while simultaneously fulfilling high school graduation requirements.  An additional point worth mentioning is that EOSHS ranks #1 in the state among all high schools when comparing the number of ECE courses offered that fulfill the four general content areas in the UC requirements for graduation.  It’s not uncommon for students to complete 10 college credits while enrolled at EOSHS.  Many earn more than 20 credits, and some have acquired as many as sixty. 

To put this in perspective, a typical yearly course load in college is thirty credits.  At UC, a year’s tuition is about $10000.  So, performing the math, thirty credits equal $10000.  For EOS students, the cost is $0.  This is, in effect, a $10000 scholarship (excluding the costs of books which are provided for free to students – an additional $1500 in approximate savings) for any EOS student who earns 30 credits prior to graduation.  The savings could potentially triple to $30000 or more when these credits transfer to a private college or university. There are on average about 25 students who earn at least this many before receiving their EOS diplomas.  Also not included, by the way, is the money saved on room and board expenses.  It doesn’t necessarily mean that a student would have to complete college in three years instead of four.  Rather, the fourth year could be spent on graduate studies.

The following are some numbers that may provide a better understanding of these “early opportunity scholarship” grants – they represent numbers for the 2009-10 school year;

  26                   UC courses are offered in the EOS curriculum

142                  seats were taken in ECE Science courses

155                  students were enrolled in UC Math courses

 33                   successfully completed ECE English

60                    earned credits in UC World Language courses

211                  seats were occupied in UC courses offered by the Social Studies Department

1933                 total credits were earned by EOS students

$502,580          is the total value of these credits earned by EOS students

And this does not include the credits earned (for free) by the 38 students in courses they completed on the UC campus.

Most all of these courses are transferable to all of the in-state public institutions and to most out-of-state public institutions as well.  Several private colleges and universities will also accept these credits, depending upon each school’s transfer credit policy.  For more information about the ECE Program, click on http://ece.uconn.edu  

Ther has been some debate about the relative merits of ECE courses when compared to Advanced Placemet (AP) courses.  EOSHS does offer five AP courses (AP U.S. History, AP Statistics, AP Studio Art, AP Chemistry, and AP Computer Science).  With the exception of Computer Science, the other AP courses are also offered as ECE courses.  So, students may still earn college credits without needing to take the AP exams.  Credits are awarded in AP courses solely on the basis of performance on the three-hour AP exams administered in May while credits for ECE courses are given based upon final grades earned in the courses (students must earn at least a "C").  Although the most highly selective colleges do not cast an unfavorable view upon schools with few AP courses (EOSHS, for many years, had none in its curriculum, choosing instead to offer the ECE courses), these schools do expect applicants to enroll in at least one or two and take the AP exam(s) if schools do offer them.  AP courses have been the subject of much debate in recent years as critics have felt that these courses cover content that is "a mile wide and an inch deep", and the pace of the course does not offer in-depth, inquiry-based learning.

Anyway, AP courses or not, students at EOSHS have several opportunities to start college while still enrolled in high school.  And, in many cases, the courses offered at the school are much smaller than the large introductory classes offered on the UC campus.  The Region 19 School District has made an investment in this program.  It makes sense that students consider making an investment of their own time and energy in pursuit of these early opportunity scholarships.

In another post, I will describe the opportunities available to students through the partnership that EOSHS has with Manchester Community College.         


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