The program, the second generation of Brenau Academy, the female institution that has operated on the Gainesville campus since 1928, departs from the traditional residential prep school model by enabling qualifying students who are of traditional high school age to enroll in classes offered by the 134-year-old Women’s College at the university.
In the “dual enrollment” program, students complete college courses to both qualify for high school diplomas and accrue course credits that will count toward undergraduate degrees.
“That SACS stamp of approval means that this program is a fully integrated part of Brenau University undergraduate studies,” said Nancy Krippel, the university provost and vice president for academic affairs.
“SACS approval means that courses students complete through the program will easily transfer into undergraduate programs at Brenau and any other accredited institution.”
Brenau developed the early college format following about a year of study after it became clear to university officials that a traditional prep school model on campus was no longer economically sustainable. The pilot for the program also allayed concerns that the younger students may not perform well in a higher-pressure college classroom environment. Lenna Applebee, director of the program, said that initial students in the Early College program not only kept pace with their older colleagues but also often excelled.
The university currently is enrolling students for the fall 2012 term. Open primarily to high school juniors and seniors, the all-female program will enable them to earn high school diplomas by completing college courses. The ideal applicant will have at least a 3.5 grade point average in high school-level classes and will score 1100 or better on SAT or equivalent tests. The program offers residential as well as commuter options.
“The university offers everything the student needs to complete a high school diploma, whether it is English literature, American history, sciences or foreign languages,” said Applebee. “Courses required for the last two years of high school almost exactly parallel those required for a two-year Associate of Arts diploma at Brenau. This accelerated program enables students to complete both by taking one set of courses.”
The SACS approval also means that students enrolled in the program also will have access other benefits, including some financial aid for higher education that is not available to traditional high school or residential prep school students.
In March the Southern Association of Independent Schools, the regional accreditation authority for private high schools, begins its review of the program to certify its issuance of high school diplomas. Applebee said she anticipates that review will be completed by the middle of the 2012-13 academic year, which begins in August.
“This is an excellent way for bright and confident young women to get head starts on their college careers,” Applebee said. “We provide a safe and structured environment that helps nurture and support students as they transition their educational experience to the next level.”
For those students who live on campus, there are Early College Mentors who live in the residence halls to give guidance and support for the residential experience. “These are graduate students with additional training to make a student’s time on campus fun, interesting and safe” said Applebee. “The mentors help students balance work and play by planning activities in the residence halls, encouraging appropriate relationships between roommate/suitemates, and providing structure to time outside of class.”