Grant offers students chance for college credit

In August, Gov. Jay Nixon awarded nearly $9 million in grants to establish campus innovation in Missouri colleges and universities. $1 million will go to benefit students in southwest Missouri.

“Innovation Campuses create a direct connection for Missouri students between the skills they learn in the classroom and the skills that are in demand today,” Nixon said at a press conference at Missouri Western State University.

“Not only will students be trained for solid careers in growing industries, they’ll be able to earn those degrees in less time with lower debt as a result.”

A collaboration of Joplin-area businesses and industries, the Joplin School District and its Franklin Technology Center, Crowder College, Missouri Southern and the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce will develop opportunities for students to select a career path in high school. The career paths include business/information technology, technical sciences, human services, arts and communication and health sciences.

“This grant is going to be good for the students, the community and our local businesses and industries to put highly educated and trained individuals out there that can be employed in our region,” Dean of the School of Health Sciences, Public Safety and Technology Tia Strait said. “This grant is really going to help a lot of intelligent students in Joplin schools who have in the past not had the funds to take dual credit courses.”

MSSU is working closely with Joplin High School and its principal, Kerry Sachetta.

“We believe by asking students to consider their interests earlier and focus on a career pathway, we can offer our students opportunities to get college credit in larger numbers while in high school and hopefully be on their way to finishing college in three years,” Sachetta said.

Sophomores in high school will be able to apply for the grant before their junior year. If they are accepted, they will be able to take college-level courses in high school to be used as both high school and college credit paid for by the grant.

Another part of the grant would increase opportunities for job shadowing and internships with local businesses and industries so students can “test drive” a career or profession that interests them before arriving at college, Strait said.

The goal for the program is to enable students to graduate with a bachelor’s degree with three years of college education post-high school.

Students who couldn’t afford to take dual credit courses before will now be able to receive funding if they have the academic ability for the more rigorous work.

The program will be implemented in the fall of 2013. The class of 2015 will likely be able to apply around February of 2013.