Forget AP credits or “testing out” of a university class. Today, high schools are partnering with universities to offer students the opportunity to earn up to a full year of university credits before ever stepping foot on a college campus.
One such school is GEMS World Academy (Singapore), whose Deputy Principal and Academic Advisor for Secondary Years, JONATHAN COX, has set up two partnerships: one with Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) and, most recently, with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
“We believe strongly that a disruption of the traditional continuum from primary to secondary to tertiary education is very much the future of education,” says Jonathan. “By blurring the lines between school and universities, we give our students an opportunity to propel themselves ahead, build their passions and complete university a year early. For parents, that’s a huge saving.”
Jonathan says that the school emphasises arts and sports equally with academics, so it was natural to seek its first partnership with a creative institution. SCAD was an “obvious choice” because it combines first-class art and design education with an intense focus on career preparation. He says setting up the partnerships is a smooth process because there are no downsides to the project. “It makes perfect sense for us, the universities, our students and their families.”
So, who exactly do these partnerships benefit? For starters, students should have a clear understanding of their interests and personal strengths. They also need to have the ambition to begin university work early. For students who struggle with academic confidence, these partnerships can demystify the university experience, allowing them to engage in collegiate level work in a familiar environment.
GEMS (Singapore) is actively adding new partnerships to cater to the interests of its students. The school is in advanced discussions with Australian and Swiss institutions to establish partnerships for Business, Sports Business, Sports Science, and Hotel and Hospitality Management. By the end of the academic year, it hopes to have five partnerships in place.
Jonathan recalls one Grade 9 student whose dream was to be offered a spot at an Ivy League college but he chose to go to flight school instead.
“He wanted to prove to his parents that he was capable of getting a place in the Ivy League, but his true dream is to be an aviator. When I told him about our new partnership with Embry-Riddle, he and his parents came to school the next day to sign him up,” says Jonathan. “Seeing responses like this makes me even more certain that these programmes are the real future of education.”
The benefits of starting uni early:
• earn enough credits to complete their first university year – in an American context, that could amount to savings of up to US$70,000 in fees and living costs;
• complete foundation college courses in high school, allowing them to jump into more interesting courses at university;
• build a portfolio of work for university and internship applications;
• enjoy a “preferred entry” to the partnership university.
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