Early Colleges high school gets proactive about making students computer-savvy

       After three years as a state-chartered, no-tuition high school, Colorado Springs Early Colleges (CSEC) has steadily increased enrollment while following through on its pledge to let students earn up to two years of college credits before they graduate.

Early Colleges founder/Administrator Keith King poses with three of his students (from left, Anne Feller, Stephanie Fawcett and Kyal Lanum) and one of the 400 netbooks that the school will make available to its students at a discount next fall.
Westside Pioneer photo

       Going into the school's fourth year in August, Administrator Keith King has a new offer for each CSEC student - a school-provided, deeply discounted netbook (small laptop) computer they can use at home or at school. The school has bought 400 such units, and students can have them for $60 a year, with the incentive for half that cost if they attend 90 percent of their classes and pass them all.
       The idea is that students need to have computers, and providing them this way helps Early Colleges “stay ahead of the cutting edge,” as King put it, in an increasingly high-tech world. And, by coupling the netbook availability with instruction as needed, the odds are improved for kids coming out of less computer-savvy backgrounds.
       “Our concept is to find the best way to prepare students for college and beyond,” he said. “In 5 to 10 years, every job will require employees to be computer- literate.”
       CSEC's campus is at the Colorado Technical University, 4435 N. Chestnut St., with students able to take college classes there or at Pikes Peak Community College and the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
       An all-choice high school that operates from August to May, CSEC started in 2007 with about 300 students. It had 458 on count day last fall. There is room for 50 to 60 more in 2010-11, King said, with a public information meeting Saturday, June 26 at 9 a.m. at Colorado Tech.
       The school has 43 employees, with 27 to 28 teachers.
       Although some students are able to take college classes sooner, the typical plan has CSEC students taking regular high school classes in 9th and 10th grades, then earning college credits in 11th and 12th grades. For the especially studious, associate degrees can be obtained from any of 165 areas of study.
       The monetary result - having to pay for fewer college classes after high school - can be significant to families on tight budgets, King said.
       CSEC was the fourth early-college type of school in Colorado. There are six now, he said. The original concept came from software magnate Bill Gates and his wife Melinda.

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