Some high school students in Oregon are looking for an academic challenge. Fortunately for them, there’s Baker Early College. The public charter school’s dual enrollment program is giving a leg-up to high school students who are ready for college.
“A lot of these students are really driven and motivated and they’re really excited about the possibility of moving on and reaching their future goals,” described Stephani Rasmussen, an advisor at Baker Early College. “That process is neat to see and be a part of.”
How does Baker Early College, which Niche.com recently ranked the best charter high school in Oregon, inspire students to take their enthusiasm to the next level?
The school pays for tuition and fees for high school students to take 12 college credits per term. As students complete courses on college campuses, they are guided through the process by advisors like Rasmussen.
While the school is open to anyone, it’s especially attractive to students who feel ready and eager to start working toward their careers.
“It’s the kids who would be taking AP classes at a traditional high school,” described another Baker Early College advisor, Kate Scheideman. “Rather than having to take the AP class and the exam that they have to pay for and may or may not pass, they get to take the class directly at the community college with guaranteed credit awarded.”
The school empowers students with “three-layer advising,” which means advisors help students think through high school goals, undergraduate goals, and graduate school or post-college goals.
“We’re trying to help facilitate as much as we can to get them to their end goal,” said Scheideman. “A lot of our students are high-achieving kids who want to be doctors, lawyers, and dentists. Helping them now knock out as much of that as possible is one of our key goals.”
But it’s not just high-achievers who find happiness at Baker Early College. For other students, Baker Early College represents a safe, supportive environment in which to begin exploring college.
“I’ve had several students who I don’t think anybody in their home ever really talked to about college,” said Rasmussen. “College is not something they even thought was a possibility. To see them be successful, to have that extra support system where it’s okay to fail and try again— that’s something that’s really been rewarding.”
The dual enrollment program offers high school students an exciting dose of independence. At the same time, advisors like Scheideman and Rasmussen play a valuable role in ensuring students receive the support they need to succeed.
For Baker Early College advisor Robert Williams, it’s knowing the headstart he is helping students gain that makes his job worth it.
“I always wish this program existed back when I was in high school,” Williams said. “What these students are doing in the dual enrollment is knocking out a lot of core classes. That’s such a benefit to them long term because then they can start their upper division coursework or get closer to their end goal.”
Daniel Huld, Baker Early College’s superintendent, is the first to say that Baker is not for every student. But for hundreds of them, it’s a shortcut to pursuing their passion.
“For education systems to be successful, you have to have charter options, online options, early college options, alternative schools, traditional schools,” said Huld. “Through that and through allowing each one of those environments to specialize, you can meet more student needs.”
"Shining a spotlight on effective educational options for every child"