UCA Looking to Improve Concurrent Credit Program

UCA is discussing possible strategies for improving its concurrent credit program, including the possibility of providing high school students opportunities to receive associate’s degrees with their diplomas.
Although many high school students take advantage of these programs across the state, UCA’s concurrent enrollment numbers have dwindled since 2008.
Last May, five Greenbrier High School students graduated with both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree from UALR, having completed the required 60 credit hours through a concurrent credit program with the university, as reported by
Following that lead, UCA President Tom Courtway plans to discuss expanding UCA’s program to allow students to earn an associate’s degree.
“We’ve got to work this year with the Faculty Senate on how concurrent credit is going to work, if it leads to an associate degree,” Courtway said.
Enrollment in UCA’s concurrent credit program has fallen significantly since 2008, from more than 1,000 students that year to little more than 300 students this year.
One possible strategy to increase participation in the program is working with Conway High School, which already enrolls several students in the program.
Some faculty members have raised concerns over various methods of implementing the program.
One concern is that most college-level courses taught on a high school campus by high school faculty aren’t as rigorous as they would be on a college campus. Some would prefer that a portion of the courses be taught on campus.
Another concern raised by Faculty Senate President Benjamin Rowley is that pushing high school students to standards they are not ready for could, in the long run, hurt the student rather than help them.
“Instead of getting a head start, [students]could be impairing their chances of successfully completing their college education at all,” he said. “We do not want to do this wrong and harm students.”
However, Provost Steven Runge said it is “up to the student” whether the course is taken seriously or not. Runge said there are regulations in place to ensure that concurrent enrollment teachers are qualified: not only must they have at least a master’s degree in a relevant field, they must also undergo in-service training, mentoring and monitoring.
Concurrent enrollment offers numerous benefits to students, primarily related to money. It is substantially cheaper to earn college credit in high school.
At UCA, concurrent enrollment students pay $10 per credit hour, or $30 per course, compared with the current undergraduate cost per hour, which is $373.56 (although cost may adjust according to enrollment numbers). In addition, starting college with an associate’s degree cuts out two years of school and two years of otherwise full- priced tuition.
Although some students who graduate high school with an associate’s degree will only attend college for two years, Courtway said he does not believe the number of students taking advantage of this program would be large enough to negatively affect UCA’s overall attendance.
Concurrent credit programs are offered to high school students by several colleges and universities in the state, including UCA, University of Arkansas–Little Rock and Arkansas Tech University.
Students must meet educational requirements of a particular college’s concurrent credit program, which are generally based on ACT scores and GPA.
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