Harrisburg School District unveils 'Early College Pathway'

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HARRISBURG, S.D. - It is a first of its kind program in the state of South Dakota.
Next semester Harrisburg High School will have professors come to campus and teach college courses to seniors as part of a program called Early College Pathway.
The program is for seniors who have already completed their required courses to graduate.
This spring semester, students will have several different courses to choose from including a CNA certification program, freshmen orientation, speech and an exploratory course for students who are still deciding their major or whether to go to a two or four year school.
The Early College Pathway is opening a door to a whole new level of learning for Harrisburg High School seniors.

“This is where the unique part kicks in because we're able to bring the professors to our campus to give the instruction, where a lot of our dual credit we offer right now at the high school is all online,” Innovative Programs Director Travis Lape said.

That means all a student has to do to take a college course is walk down a hallway.

“I want to go into the medical field so right now I’m sort of between nursing and pursuing the med school route,” high school senior Rachel Nelson said.

Nelson will be taking the CNA certification course, which includes an internship, clinical hours and she’ll be eligible to get a job as a CNA after she graduates.

“You're actually working with them instead of shadowing them where you just watch them. You'll be able to work with them,” Nelson said.

“Every student that is in this pilot with us this year will have an internship in a career field and so not only will they be getting their course work, but we are working with local industry and businesses to provide an internship,” Lape said.

So not only will the courses helps students get a taste of what college is like...

“We are starting to lay the pavement or the foundation for them to have a successful post-secondary route because then next year when they get into their actual course work they've already experienced some of the rigor of what a college class will take,” Lape said.

Student advisors hope it will also help steer students toward a career path they will enjoy.

“We don't want students getting to their third or fourth year of college and realizing I don't like this major at all. We love to help students start dictating that pathway and figuring out if that's what they really want to do with their lives,” Student advisor Kelly Andrews said.

Another major benefit for students is that the courses are completely free.
The district is paying for the books, tuition, and fees.
The district has partnered with the University Center, the six in-state institutions as well as Southeast Technical Institute to ensure the course work will apply to their major no matter where they go in-state.