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Published: Wednesday, 9/15/2004

Northwest State: College courses get high school exposure


SWANTON - In coming years, Swanton students might have the opportunity to earn a degree by taking college courses in high school classrooms.

Beginning Monday, Northwest State Community College will offer late-afternoon and evening classes at Swanton High School. Anyone can sign up for the 12-week courses that will include accounting, literature, and psychology.

This is the first time that Northwest State, a 35-year-old institution, has offered college classes at a high school in Fulton County, said Don Spohler, who coordinates special projects for the college near Archbold.

No enrollment projections have been made, but the college hopes to attract traditional students as well as working parents and retired grandparents into the program. "We want to bring the excitement of learning to all ages," Mr. Spohler said.

If demand warrants it, the college could build course work to offer students a chance to earn an associate degree through classes offered at the high school, Mr. Spohler said.

"We know it's a drive to our main campus, and this will allow Swanton-area residents to save time and money on transportation while still completing basic courses that will transfer to our main campus or to any other campus," said Betty Young, college president.

In response to requests for basic business courses in the Swanton area, Northwest State will offer accounting I and computer applications. Other classes include college algebra, composition I, British literature and general psychology. Most classes for fall semester will be held once per week. The same financial aid options and other benefits available on the main campus will apply to the Swanton classes, Mr. Spohler said.

High school students can enroll, but would pay tuition. These are not free courses as part of a post-secondary education option program, Mr. Spohler said.

Under an agreement with Swanton, there will be no cost to the district, said Mr. Spohler. The college will lease the classroom facilities, he said.

Swanton Superintendent Robin Rayfield said the new program is an opportunity for Swanton-area residents to attend college locally, reducing drive time and transportation expenses.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for the school district and the college," the superintendent said. "There is no doubt in my mind that this will be a new trend," he said about the off-campus course work.

People interested in the program can visit the college's main campus or register online at www.northweststate.edu.

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