How Our Partners Are Helping Rural Students Access Affordable College Credit

by | May 4, 2021 | Learning Design

​There are several hurdles rural students must overcome to successfully progress through their learning journey. High-speed internet access and proximity to educational opportunities often top the list. At TEL Education, we work with partners that are focused on removing these barriers to open doors for students, no matter where they are located.

Establishing a Culture of Support

Located in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, Oklahoma Wesleyan University (OKWU) is 47 miles north of Tusla and 18 miles from the Kansas border. OKWU has a long history of helping students get a solid start to their educational and professional careers. OKWU works with a number of first-generation college students and other students who might need a little extra support during their college years.

To establish that support early, OKWU began offering on-campus concurrent courses for nearby high school students in the 1980s. This initiative enabled high school students to integrate with college students in the traditional setting. OKWU later wrote and designed online dual enrollment courses as new technologies became available.

In 2020, OKWU worked with TEL to relaunch their dual credit program as OKWU Prep. With OKWU Prep, students can earn up to one year of college credit during high school. All the courses are available online, so students don’t have to worry about getting to the OKWU campus for registration or exams. This relaunch also helped them provide a consistent catalog for students to more easily plan out their course sequence.

Creating a Clear Bridge to College

Many high school students struggle to know what they want to do with the rest of their life. For rural students, helping with family businesses and following in familial footsteps can easily supersede college for undecided students.

McMurry University, located in Abilene, Texas, worked with TEL to create a Collegiate Academy program for rural students. By working with high schools around the state, students not only earn college credit while in high school, but also have a clear path for college. Through the Collegiate Academy program, students receive support from coaches to facilitate study groups and help students build confidence in college-level courses. Students also receive a transcript from McMurry University for any courses they successfully complete, making it simple to enroll at McMurry after graduation or transfer the credit to another institution.

Knowing that they have already completed several courses by the time they graduate high school can give students the positive reinforcement they need to take that leap to college. Partnering with a school like McMurry University that understands rural students makes that bridge between high school and college a lot smoother.

Removing the Financial Burden

Working with Ohio’s College Credit Plus program, Ohio Christian University helps students all over the state of Ohio access affordable college-level courses and earn college credit while in high school.

Located in Circleville, OH, OCU’s Trailblazer Academy provides flexible options for students near campus as well as online options for students not able to get to the campus. OCU also has partnerships with several high schools across the state of Ohio to bring the courses directly to students. Through those partnerships, high schools host Trailblazer Academy courses on their campus taught by qualified faculty.

Public high school students who successfully complete courses through the Trailblazer Academy can earn college credit for free. Ohio’s CCP program covers the cost of any course that falls under their allowable course stipulations. OCU provides reduced tuition for students in private schools as well as homeschool students. Students can take up to 30 credit hours a year taking general education courses that can apply to just about any degree program. With this program, OCU is helping students remove cost as a barrier to a college education for students throughout the state.

Opening New Doors

Oklahoma Virtual Charter Academy (OVCA) works with students across Oklahoma who need something a little different than traditional high school. As an online school covering kindergarten through high school, OVCA provides support and guidance for students at every step of their learning journey.

All juniors and seniors at OVCA are encouraged to take advantage of online dual credit as well as career and technical education at local Career Tech Centers. For many of the rural students they work with, these opportunities just weren’t available a decade ago. At that time, many rural students weren’t able to take advantage of dual credit because it would require a trip to the college campus, which could take several hours out of a school day. With the steady spread of high-speed internet access across the state, students now have more opportunities to earn college credit in high school.

In working with TEL, OVCA also offers flexible, self-paced courses that students can take at their own speed. For example, during the pandemic, some students had to pick up extra work shifts to help family members who were laid off. With self-paced courses, students could do coursework when they had time, without having to worry about missing exams or assignment due dates.

Building New Pathways For Rural Students

Many of our partner schools understand the struggles facing students in rural areas. From accessing opportunities to getting the guidance to take advantage of them, these partners work with TEL to provide flexible, affordable options for students no matter where they are located.

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