The University of Delaware’s College of Health Sciences will offer two college-level courses at Newark High School next school year, giving students a glimpse of what it’s like to be in college.
In the fall, qualifying students can take “Introduction to Health Sciences” with Kathleen Matt, dean of the College of Health Sciences. During the spring semester, Esther Biswas-Fiss, chairperson of UD’s Department of Medical Laboratory Sciences, will teach “Introduction to Medical Laboratory Sciences.” The classes will be integrated into the students’ regular schedule, and both courses count for high school and university credit.
This will be the second year the College of Health Sciences is offering dual-credit courses in a high school setting. An inaugural campaign wrapped up last month at St. Mark’s High School in Wilmington.
As a NHS grad and UD alumnus, Matt said she wanted to partner with her alma matter and expand the program to Newark.
“We’re neighbors. We can make a difference for each other and, in particular, I think the university needs to really reach out to do more things to really enhance and help out Newark High School,” she said.
Matt hopes the dual-credit classes give NHS students a leg up in their college careers and attracts them to the health sciences by showing the breadth of opportunities available in the field, but the main goal is to give them a college experience.
“For students who aren’t sure about college, it’s going to build up their confidence and show them they can do this,” Matt said.
Newark High Principal Aaron Selekman called the classes an opportunity for students to explore.
“Perhaps they find or discover something they’re interested in pursuing beyond high school,” he said. “They’ll also get an understanding of the rigor and expectation of college courses. For most students, they don’t know what that will be like until they get to college. Well, here you have a group of students who will actually begin to experience that in a meaningful way and will be that much more prepared for success in college.”
Professors will teach the courses at NHS, but the students will have the chance to get out of the classroom for field trips to UD’s STAR Campus to see the research labs, clinics and growth anatomy lab in the College of Health Sciences building. Matt said she also plans to bring in speakers who currently work in the health sciences field to share their career paths with the students.
To provide additional support for the students, Selekman said NHS will create a UD office in the school, which the College of Health Sciences will share with groups across the university. He said the office will host professor office hours, offer university registrar and enrollment support and provide answers to general questions about college.
In addition to the courses, the college will be working with the nonprofit Connecting Generations to pair UD undergraduate mentors with high school students who hold similar career interests. Throughout the school year, mentors and mentees will discuss topics like overcoming barriers, college success skills and career planning.
Matt said the idea is to expand the program to other local high schools, eventually opening up the dual-credit courses to more students with different qualifications and who are at varying levels of academic achievement.
If all goes well, Selekman hopes UD expands the program at Newark High to include other colleges within the university, such as engineering, agriculture, business and economics, and earth, ocean and environment.
“I hope that they’ll see the benefit and I hope that they’ll see the student interest. I mean, the demand is here,” he said. “Well over 100 students applied for only 25 spots, and we could replicate that in almost every area.”