Almost eight out of ten of the area's outstanding 2004 high school graduates were Genesee Community College students last year, a new study has revealed. Of 180 graduates identified as the "Top Ten" academic leaders in 18 area school districts by The Daily News in June, 139 had completed courses through Genesee's Advanced Studies program.
The Advanced Studies program gives area high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to pursue Genesee courses either in their own high schools, at the Batavia Campus, or at a campus center. Genesee offers a wide range of college courses through the program, and credits are easily transferable to public and private colleges across the United States.
Dr. Larene Hoelcle, Vice President for Human Resources and Planning, told Genesee's Board of Trustees this evening that the growing popularity of Advanced Studies courses among academically talented high school students has positive implications for the students and for Genesee.
"First and foremost, high school students who participate in the Advanced Studies program get a very important head-start on their college careers," Dr. Hoelcle said. "They learn how to meet rigorous college courses head-on, well before they attend college full-time. Just as important, many of these students accumulate a significant number of college credits while in the program. As a result, many of these students can complete their college courses in less than four years, saving many families tens of thousands of dollars."
Recent statistical reports have noted that fewer than one-half of students entering four-year colleges actually complete their studies in four years, Dr. Hoelcle noted. "Students entering a college with earned transfer credits will have a far better chance of completing their degrees on time," she said.
Aggregate cost savings to area families is enormous, Dr. Hoelcle said. "The total cost per credit hour at public institutions, factoring in tuition, board, fees, and other expenses can now run above $500 a year today. At private colleges, the cost per credit hour can easily exceed $1,000. How much do families in our region save because of the Advanced Studies program? Certainly well in excess of $1 million annually, and probably far, far more."
The Advanced Studies program also boosts Genesee's reputation among all students, according to Dr. Hoelcle. "High school students join the Advanced Studies program because they have confidence in the quality of the courses and their transferability," she said. "When you have almost 80% of the most academically talented students in the area participating in Genesee Community College courses, that sends a powerful message to every student and to the entire community about the excellence and value Genesee offers."
The study examined the academic plans of the top ten students in the graduating classes of the eighteen high schools geographically closest to the Batavia Campus. Results of the study also showed that 96 of these academically talented students - or slightly more than half - planned to attend State University of New York colleges, including 15 at Genesee.
"Ironically, one of the reasons we don't have more of these students coming to Genesee full-time is that they have already completed many of Genesee's requirements, and are ready to move to a baccalaureate college," Dr. Hoelcle told trustees. "We have even had the pleasure of seeing students complete their entire associate's degrees and graduating from Genesee a month before they received their high school diplomas."