Heading to College? What’s Your ETA?

Parkland College is excited to offer District 505 high school and home-schooled students a great new opportunity to complete college general education courses while still in high school.

Parkland’s new Early Transfer Academy (ETA) is a fast track to college that gives students in their last two years of high school a new, structured opportunity to complete the general education courses required at nearly all four-year institutions. High school and home-schooled students age 15 and older  who meet Parkland’s reading, writing, and math placement requirements will be able to register for selected courses offered at times planned to fit their schedule.

  • Students in the first year of the two-year program will take classes with faculty who have incorporated learning skills into their curriculum. Students participating in the ETA will not only earn transferable college credit but will gain experiences that will increase their chances of success as they move on to a four-year university. While in the first year, students will gain experience in time management, online learning, academic planning, and organization of workload.
  • In the second year, ETA participating students will be able to choose from a wider range of general education courses that allow them take classes apart from the group. The two-year schedule helps students gradually become comfortable with the college environment, so that they are ready for the next step upon graduating from high school.

Courses offered through the ETA will fulfill the requirements of the General Education Core Curriculum as identified by the Illinois Articulation Act. This public act states that upon completion of the GECC, no student will be required to take additional lower-division general education courses at any public college or university in Illinois. All public colleges and most private institutions in Illinois accept the courses in the GECC. The GECC includes courses in humanities, fine arts, social sciences, mathematics, and physical and life sciences.

A high school student who enters the ETA as a junior could complete the entire GECC package by the time he or she graduates from high school. That same student could potentially complete an associate’s degree at Parkland in one year after high school and then transfer to a four-year institution with only two years needed to complete a bachelor’s degree. Alternatively, a student completing the GECC through the ETA could transfer those credits directly to a four-year institution and complete a bachelor’s degree in three years or less. Participation in the ETA could mean significant savings in college costs as well as a greater chance at college success because of the experiences gained on Parkland’s campus.

Who/What: The ETA is an early college program for high school juniors and seniors designed to help students move through coursework included in the General Education Core Curriculum requirements for college. Students will get a head start on their college degree/program completion and, at the same time, receive support from faculty and staff who are dedicated to helping students successfully navigate the transition from high school to higher education.

Where/When: ETA students will choose between a morning or afternoon track to complete three different courses each semester. Morning classes will meet 8–9:15 a.m. Monday–Friday, and afternoon classes will meet 4–5:15 p.m. Monday–Friday, at the Parkland College main campus in Champaign.

How: Registration is open to incoming juniors and seniors, 15 years of age or older. The registration window is February 1–June 1, 2018. Students will work with their high school counselors to complete the necessary registration requirements and determine dual credit eligibility. To register, students will need to submit:

  • a non-degree-seeking admissions form to Parkland College
  • a dual credit/dual enrollment request form
  • qualifying ACT or SAT scores, or complete the appropriate Parkland College placement test

Program Details:

  • Students can choose either the 8–9:15 a.m. track or the 4–5:15 p.m. track. Both have identical course offerings. Classes will meet M–F.
  • Students must meet the placement requirements for each course, either through Parkland placement testing, SAT, or ACT.
  • ETA Year 1 students will be in a cohort together.
  • Cost for the ETA will include Parkland College in-district tuition, fees, and books.
  • Payment plans will be available to help families distribute the cost throughout the semester. We are currently exploring scholarship opportunities but do not want to present that as an option until we are 100 percent certain funds will be available.
  • All courses meet the requirements set forth by the Illinois Articulation Initiative, meaning they are part of the General Education Core Curriculum and will transfer.
  • Friday classes are hybrid. This means that the class will meet every Friday, but 50 percent of the class will be conducted online, using Parkland’s online course management platform, COBRA. Through these courses, students will learn how to succeed in an online college course.
  • High schools will determine whether or not enrollment in ETA will simultaneously earn high school credit. The enrollment process will remain the same either way; the only difference is whether the student is granted high school credits.
  • ETA Year 2 classes will include life/physical science courses, mathematics, and communications.
  • Year 2 students will have more options for their schedule and will be mixed into classes with ‘general population’ students. Parkland will make every attempt to modify the Year 2 schedule if a student can earn dual credits through their home high school. For example, if a student is able to take a Year 2 class at their home high school, we will substitute another required course in its place.

***Parkland College is hosting an ETA Open House (Information Session) on Monday, November 13 from 6 to 8 p.m. Interested students and their parents are invited to attend to learn more about the program. Registration to the open house is available at parkland.edu/ETAopenhouse.***

[Nancy Sutton , Ed.D., is dean of the division of arts and sciences at Parkland College and one of the ETA coordinators.]

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