Photo Illustration: Ash Catalan, Diego Gutierrez
Akins has earned a reputation for preparing students for college and careers with specialized programs to help them focus in on their dreams.
And in the 2019-2020 school year, Akins will be adding to that reputation the distinction of becoming an “Early College High School,” adding to the many opportunities the school offers students.
Freshman Heba Dalu said the program sounds like a great opportunity.
“I think it would be a really good addition to our school and it would provide people with opportunities they couldn’t get at any other school,” she said. “I want to finish part of college in high school because it would save my family a lot of money and help my education financially.”
Christine Kesling, who is in charge of coordinating and recruiting students for the program, said she is looking for eighth-grade students to sign up because the program has to be started during students’ freshman year.
Kesling said counselors will examine certain aspects of students’ backgrounds when recruiting.
“Early college high school is set up to reach three different populations: students who are first-generation college goers. Students that are in populations that are underserved in colleges. Certain demographics don’t go to college as often as others do so we give them a head start. Then students who just want to get two years of college done with.”
Kesling also said there’d be an application but it wouldn’t be a determining factor in enrollment. “Students are not turned away from this program,” she said. “There will be short answers and mini-essay questions but (the applications) aren’t to choose students. It’s a way for us to get to know students.”
Associate principal Manuel Garcia outlined what the workload would be like for students in the program.
“When the students come in as freshman they’ll take one (college) class in the fall and another in the spring so it’s like a soft entrance and as sophomores they’ll take classes at Akins in the morning and classes at Austin Community College (ACC) in the afternoon (same in the junior year) and then their senior year they’ll be taking all their classes at ACC,” Garcia said.
The program will take a minimum of 75 students next year and is expected to grow. “ Those (early college) students will be (in a) cohort together. In an early college high school no matter how many students you have they are grouped together in groups of 25. So those are individual cohorts. Those students will take their core classes together.”
Kesling said she wants them to feel supportive of one another.