Temple Education Scholars, a program through the Philadelphia School District and Temple University’s College of Education, launched this semester.
The program, which gives twelve local high school seniors a head start on college, is a dual enrollment program under the Philadelphia School District’s Senior Year Only Program. SYOP allows seniors to prepare for higher education and a career while still in high school.
Juliet Curci, Temple’s senior director of school and community partnerships, said her team proposed the idea to Greg Anderson, the dean of the College of Education, before approaching the school district last year.
“We want to be really intentional this fall in our collaboration with the district in making sure that students from every high school know about this opportunity and believe that they’re a potential candidate,” Curci said.
More than 475 students applied to SYOP last year and 48 listed Temple Education Scholars as their first choice, Curci said.
This year’s students include Destiny Johnson, Jenna Spedding, Masiyah German, Ethan Nguyen, Quynh Nguyen, Cindy Phuong, Ashley Go, Akiah Lovett, Angelina Rodriguez, Ismaela Shabazz, Lamyab Simons, and Syndey Smith, who all attend various Philadelphia high schools.
“They are getting a grasp of what it’s like to be in college before they go to college,” said Samantha Horchos, a graduate student who provides academic support to the scholars on campus.
To participate, students fill out an application and take the Accuplacer exam, which determines readiness to take college-level classes. Their attendance and high school GPA is also considered. They must have a minimum GPA of 3.25.
The students take classes Monday through Thursday on Main Campus during the school year. Students will complete 15 credits, or one college semester, by the end of the program.
“If they only take one or two courses with us, they’re not really chipping away at their time in college,” Curci said. “Reducing the cost of college for students became really important.”
Transportation, lunch, materials, support staff and class fees are included in admission the program.
All of this year’s scholars will be first-generation college students.
“They have a lot on their plates,” Horchos said. “Several of them do other programs, whether that be after-school programs … some are taking classes as well at La Salle University.”
“They’re incredibly busy and for all that [they’re involved in], they’re still excelling academically, both in high school and at Temple,” she added.
Some of the high school scholars saw value in having the opportunity to take college classes while in high school.
“It opened my eyes up to a lot of things that I haven’t thought about,” said Destiny Johnson, a senior at Martin Luther King High School. “I’m used to being in high school and getting worksheets for assignments, I’ve never really been taught in-depth.”
“These classes made me think about myself and how I learn,” she added.
Other students in the program experienced the benefit of learning about themselves as students.
Masiyah German, a senior at Roxborough High School, is considering a career in law or journalism and joined the program to expand her pre-college experiences.
“I need to start being more open to things,” German said. “Education is important and it’s connected to any career path. If you’re a lawyer, you’ll probably still be educating people.”
The program is in the process of hiring five to six undergraduate students to serve as tutors and mentors, Horchos said.
Curci said she hopes that other colleges within Temple consider adopting a similar model to give students the opportunity to take classes with them.
“They’re truly a group of friendly, outgoing students and they’ve meshed well, better than we could have ever planned,” Horchos said.