Taking high school and college classes simultaneously means a lot of work, but also some sweet benefits for the 11 students completing their first semester in Butler’s Early College Program (ECP). All juniors at Shortridge Magnet High School for Law and Public Policy, the ECP students have taken classes alongside Butler students two days a week this fall.

Early College ProgramShoneq Cook said her favorite benefit has been “freedom.”

“The teachers here tell us what to do,” Cook said, “but we have freedom to do it on our own time.”

Dominique Knox’s study skills and Shortridge grades improved because of his participation in ECP.

“I’m not procrastinating any more,” he said. “I tried that on the first test at Butler, and it didn’t work well.”

Darlene Brown was pleasantly surprised by what she had in common with Butler students in her “Introduction to Peace Studies” course. “I thought the college students would be much more mature than us,” she said. “It was good that we were able to compare minds.”

Each of the Shortridge students completed a 3-credit core course this fall, as well as a 1-credit course on strategies for college academic success, offered through Butler’s Learning Resource Center (LRC).

Emily Burke, LRC associate director, said the ECP students put in “an impressive semester.” Faculty teaching them in five selected core classes provided “constant feedback on how articulate the Shortridge students were, how seamlessly they entered classes along with Butler students,” Burke said.

Bonnie Brown, associate professor of pharmacy practice, had two ECP students enrolled in “Text and Ideas: Self and Service,” a class she co-taught with Professor of Education Arthur Hochman. The Shortridge students were prepared for college work, she said, and “performed as well as anyone else in the class.”

Faculty intentionally didn’t single out ECP participants, so the 18 Butler students in Brown’s class — ranging from freshmen to seniors — didn’t know they had high school classmates until later in the term, when all students presented oral biographies.

“The Shortridge students were initially quiet, but by the end of the semester, they were really integrated into the class,” Brown said.

“They fit right in” said Jay Howard of the three Shortridge students he taught among a total 21 students in the course “Understanding Society: Inequalities in Society.”

Howard, who is dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said ECP students participated actively in small group discussions and quickly grasped that their twice-a-week college course demanded more focus and outside reading than five-days-a-week high school classes do.

“They may have been surprised at first at the pace and level of material,” he said, “but they adjusted to meet the challenge.”

One of Howard’s students, Tayjia Wright, appreciated the detailed responses he provided on her essays, and his posting of grades online within hours after a class. “It showed me where I needed improvement,” she said.

“I learned a lot in class,” Cook said. “My answers are more complex now. The teachers broke [classroom topics] down for us.

The ECP students have encouraged their friends to consider applying to the program, currently open to selected Shortridge juniors. “It’ll give you a leg up” on college entry, Wright said. “Why not take advantage of it?”

“When we go to college, it’s going to be lot smoother transition than I thought,” said Benji Gerlitz.

Program participants are selected based on academic readiness. Some of this year’s participants will continue in the program as seniors. Other Shortridge students will join them from next year’s junior class, for an estimated 24 ECP students in all.

Two current participants will sit out from the program this spring because of time commitments to play sports. The others will continue, and one new student has been admitted, bringing the spring 2012 cohort to 10 students.

Brown and Howard both want to teach future classes for the Early College program. Brown, along with Hochman, has already scheduled a fall 2012 “Text and Ideas” course as an ECP option.

“The Shortridge students have a real sense of pride in their school; they want to represent it well,” she said.

Butler foundation partners, such as Lilly Endowment, Inc., the Ruth Lilly Philanthropic Foundation and PNC Financial, support the partnership through tuition scholarships, faculty and staff professional development, and shared programming focused on multicultural awareness and pedagogy.

Media contact: Mary Ellen Stephenson(317) 940-6944mestephe@butler.edu

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