Overview

Indiana’s colleges and universities provide a variety of classes and special programs to help high school students prepare to be successful in college, even to get some college credits while you’re still in high school. If you live near a college, you may already be aware of classes you can take at the campus during or after school—or of concurrent classes offered in your own building. If you don’t happen to live near a college, though, you may think you’re out of luck.

Wrong! Many public and private colleges make these classes available via technology so you can enroll wherever you live. That opens a world of subject choices and helps everyone. After all, even the best high school can temporarily lose a key teacher, and there just aren’t enough teachers in some subjects to go around.

So why should you care? Isn’t life simpler if you just slide through school taking the easiest classes possible to keep up your grade-point average? Actually, no. For one thing, college admissions officers look at more than grade-point averages and SAT scores in making their decisions, so a high GPA, while important, won’t guarantee admission. Keep reading!

It’s become a cliché to point out that most well-paying jobs today require some form of postsecondary education. That may not mean a bachelor’s degree: it could be a community-college associate degree (because you just may decide later you want to keep going) or a formal apprenticeship program or technical certification of some kind.

Many lengthy research studies have documented that the single most significant predictor of college success (whether you define that as getting admitted, staying after your freshman year, or completing the degree in two or four years) is having taken challenging classes in high school. And these improved outcomes apply even more strongly to those whose parents didn’t go to college, those categorized as racial or ethnic minorities, those from low-income families, or those who are just late bloomers and haven’t done well in formal schooling.

So browse through the information at the left and you’re likely to find something that sounds appealing. Some high schools are already making classes available via technology, so you may have some familiarity with terminology already. More schools aren’t, so we explain the differences in format and delivery mode as well as offer some things to think about in terms of your own preferences and study habits.

Our advice is general, but since there’s really no such thing as an “average” person, it’s also important, once you think you might be interested, to talk about this with your school counselor and your parent or guardian. They can give you much more specific advice based on your own background and personality. But do consider the possibilities. If nothing else, most colleges are using technology in their campus-based classes much more extensively than are most high schools at this point, and you can count on needing to know how to learn successfully in this way (it’s more than knowing how to Google or use IM). And more and more employers are using technology in their training programs, so your future success in on-the-job training may also benefit from some early practice. Taking a class or two while still in high school can give you a head start in many ways to a lifetime of successful learning.

Kinds of Opportunities

High School Electives

Obviously, not every school can offer all subjects to meet the needs of every individual student, but distance learning makes it more feasible. Classes like Novels, Anthropology, Oceanography, and International Business are high-school classes, taught by licensed Indiana teachers, that apply to your high-school diploma. Some may even make it possible for you to shoot for an Academic Honors Diploma rather than the more typical Core 40 Diploma. Or it may be that instead of settling for Journalism, which is offered in your school, you get a chance to take Creative Writing, which isn't. Home-schooled students often benefit from being able to take specialized subjects as well.

High-school level classes are currently offered state-wide via technology by the Academy for Science, Mathematics and Humanities at Ball State University and the Ripley County Learning Network , a collaboration of the Ripley County school corporations. Indiana University Virtual High School also offers a complete North Central Association accredited high-school diploma online, with a wide variety of subjects from which to choose, but since the diploma is not recognized by the Indiana Department of Education, it would be smart to check first with your guidance counselor to see if a particular course will apply.

Advanced Placement

Advanced Placement is a program sponsored by The College Board in cooperation with universities and high schools throughout the country. Basically, the classes prepare you to take the Advanced Placement examinations, which are evaluated by a mix of college professors and high-school teachers as well as testing experts, with grades assigned on a scale of 1 to 5. In general, students who score at a 4 or 5 are able to receive college credit for introductory classes and generally do even better in their next-level classes than those who did take the introductory classes at the college. Scores of 3 provide less assurance—some colleges do allow credit, others don’t, though the evidence indicates that most students who score a 3 are at least able to keep up with the next level of work as well as their peers coming out of the introductory classes. These are still considered high-school level classes and do count toward your diploma’s elective requirements.

In Indiana, they are currently available via technology from the Academy for Science, Mathematics and Humanities at Ball State University.

Dual Credit/Concurrent Enrollment

Dual credit is a generic term meaning that a student is simultaneously earning both high school and college credit. Dual credit courses can be taken online, on a college campus, or at a high school. Visit here to view a directory of all Indiana dual credit providers. Offerings vary from one semester to another, but dual credit arrangements are generally available for technology-based classes through Ball State University, Indiana University School of Continuing Studies, University of Indianapolis, and Vincennes University, among others.

Concurrent enrollment is a specific type of dual credit taught by a university-approved and trained high school instructor in the high school during the regular school day. In the concurrent enrollment model, you take one course and simultaneously (on successful completion, of course!) receive high-school and college credit. Typically, concurrent enrollment courses are offered at reduced tuition which makes it a low-risk way to see whether you can handle college-level work. Concurrent enrollment options abound in areas both near and far from college campuses in a site-based format. In order to have the class apply to your high school diploma, it must be taught by an Indiana-certified teacher; in order to get college credit, the course must be taught by a university-approved and trained instructor who maintains the collegiate standards for the equivalent course.

Concurrent enrollment was problematic in the past because all too often a course taken on a concurrent basis wouldn’t transfer from one university to another, but most of those problems have been ironed out. Through the creation of the Indiana Core Transfer Library (CTL), both college and high school concurrent enrollment students can easily view how more than 70 common college courses will transfer among Indiana’s public institutions. Visit www.transferin.net for more details. Transferability also has been increased through the development of common procedures for assuring college-level work. Typically, the college provides special training to the high-school teacher and continues to monitor the teacher and provide feedback during the course so the institution can reliably state that the content learned was truly the same as what would have been learned by taking the class at its campus. A national organization, known as NACEP (www.nacep.org) is responsible for accrediting concurrent enrollment programs after a rigorous review process, and four institutions in Indiana have attained this accreditation (IU Bloomington, IU South Bend, University of Southern Indiana, and Vincennes University), while several more are in the process.

Early College Enrollment

Early college enrollment refers to taking a college class while you’re still enrolled in high school—but this isn’t the same as concurrent enrollment, because the class doesn’t count toward your diploma. Essentially, it provides a head start for those who know they want to go on to college, or sometimes a toe-in-the-water test for those who aren’t sure whether they can do college-level work. One of the advantages, regardless of motivation, is that you can start accumulating credits early and have a better chance of completing a degree in the “standard” two or four years—and that can mean a real dollar savings for students and parents alike. In some cases (though not all), you can even qualify for lower-than-usual tuition costs or scholarships, though you won’t be eligible for State or Federal financial aid yet.

Indiana’s colleges and universities offer hundreds of college undergraduate classes via technology every semester, and over 100 of those have been identified as open to enrollment by qualified high-school students (sometimes more than one institution offers the same class). In some cases, you’ll need to take a placement test to assure you’re really ready for the class, but in several of those cases the placement test is available online and you have results almost immediately. See more about requirements under “How to Enroll.”

At this point, distance classes are available to high-school students from Indiana State University, Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne, Indiana University School of Continuing Studies, Indiana Wesleyan University, several regions of Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana, Purdue University, Taylor University, University of Southern Indiana, and Vincennes University. Several other campuses are considering opening their classes similarly, so keep checking if you don’t see your intended college listed right now. And remember that course-transfer arrangements are in place for many of these classes, so you could take the class from one institution and transfer the credit to the institution where you actually end up enrolling after high school. (As always, though, check with someone at your intended institution first to be sure.)

Also Consider ...

Also consider the possible advantages of some of the other kinds of noncredit or credit-bearing classes available. Even though they may not apply to a degree program, there are opportunities for SAT preparation as well as study-skills classes that can help you prepare for admission to and success in college. Some of these more obvious choices are listed under “Other College Preparation Opportunities,” or you can check out others in the “Search for Courses” section of the ICN Web site.

Distance Course Formats

Semester Based

Semester Based classes are the traditional model with which everyone (except maybe home-schoolers) is familiar. The majority of classes listed in the online ICN Catalog are organized around a semester (or, in the case of summer classes, the varying kinds of summer terms of the institutions). This format may be the best choice for most high-school students because it will track approximately if not exactly with the high-school semesters of your other classes. And if you can best organize your studying within a familiar, well-defined structure, this may be the best choice for you. The choices abound.

Open Enrollment

Open Enrollment means that you can start any time you want, and you typically have a fixed period of time in which to complete your coursework (common periods are six months, one year, and two years). This kind of flexibility is obviously very desirable for a lot of working adult students, which is why there are so many classes offered in an Open Enrollment format, but depending on your own circumstances, it might work for you, too. You generally need to be pretty good at keeping yourself well organized so you don’t arrive at the end of the time period with only a few lessons completed. And since this is generally an independent-study mode, you may feel the lack of other students with whom to compare notes or discuss problems. On the other hand, it’s a natural for many home-schoolers. And all classes are what is called “instructor led,” which means there’s a real professor at the other end of a telephone call or email/IM exchange who’s grading your assignments, monitoring your progress, and available for consultation. Most Open Enrollment classes are taught online, which avoids the drawbacks with traditional print correspondence classes in having long lags between the time you mail in an assignment and the time you actually find out how you did. If you’re a good independent learner, these classes may work very well for you.

Accelerated

Accelerated is the typical term for short courses, but another term might be “intense.” Typically you have five or perhaps eight weeks in which to complete a semester’s worth of learning, so again, this choice isn’t for everyone. If you’re taking a full load of other classes and have a part-time job after school, you may not be able to deal with the intensity of an accelerated-format class. On the other hand, you might think about these courses for summer, when even the more traditional courses are compressed into five- or eight-week summer sessions. Many high schools have had to cut summer programs due to lack of funds, but taking these accelerated classes (or other online classes offered in the summer) can be a way to use summer to keep on learning. (We all know it’s amazing how much you can forget over the summer anyway, right? If you keep using what you learned the previous year, you’re less likely to lose it by the next fall.)

Distance Delivery Modes

Synchronous

Synchronous sounds like just another unnecessarily fancy term, but these distinctions are important for several reasons because of the blurring of technologies that used to be separate and distinct. “Synchronous” essentially means real-time—all the students and instructor are in the same virtual space at the same time with the capability for simultaneous interaction. Chat and IM are synchronous activities. The majority of video-based distance learning classes are synchronous, and you can tell that in the Course Information by the fact that there will be a specific time designated for the class to meet. So, classes delivered by IHETS satellite or videoconferencing are almost by definition offered in real time. Classes designated for videotape or cable/public TV delivery are asynchronous (see below), and while “streaming” classes used to be entirely asynchronous, there are beginning to be opportunities for live streaming as well (usually with a live telephone conference or chat arrangement for real-time interaction). The best way to be sure is to look for a specific class meeting time identified near the bottom of the Course Information record.

Why should you care? For one thing, some people feel they learn best if they can actually see and hear others that are part of a class, even if class members are scattered around the globe rather than all being in a physical room. Especially for high-school students who have known nothing but classroom-based learning, synchronous classes may be the most comfortable way to ease into distance learning. For another thing, your high school may strongly prefer that kind of class because administrators can feel more comfortable with monitoring attendance and test-taking. In short, synchronous classes are most like the way you’re already studying.

Asynchronous

Asynchronous, on the other hand, refers to learning situations where people interact with the course content and one another at different times. Internet-based classes are almost by definition asynchronous, but so are classes where the primary content is delivered by some kind of stored media (these days it might be DVD rather than a videotape) or by cable or public TV (where the onus is on you to tape a segment or watch it when it’s broadcast). If you’ve joined online forums or bulletin board for special interests, you have a sense of what asynchronous interaction is about—though in formal classes, the interaction is more structured. You may be required to post three contributions to a special class discussion list (called a “threaded discussion”) about one week’s reading assignment, but you can log on and do that whenever it’s most convenient for you.

Many distance learners need this kind of flexibility because of their work schedules, and professors are sometimes pleasantly surprised by the high quality of interaction that occurs when students have time to think awhile before offering a comment or question. Asynchronous classes can also be a boon for high-school students in that you don’t have to worry about meshing some other school’s class times with those of your school (i.e., their classes run 50 minutes and start on the hour, while your classes run 45 minutes and start at 10 minutes after the hour).

Important Considerations

Personal Preferences

As you consider whether you want to try using technology to take a class you can’t get at your school, it’s important to think about what you know about how you can learn well. If you’re comfortable using a computer and frequently go online for information, communication, and/or entertainment, you’ll probably feel at home in an online class. If you’ve had limited exposure to computers or the Internet, though, a video-based class would be a better choice. Regardless of delivery mode or format, you’re likely to need to use a computer for simple email, doing online research, and preparing and turning in assignments. So if you’re computer-phobic, distance learning may not be a good option for you at all. (On the other hand, you’re going to have to learn some of these skills sooner or later to get along in college or work, so maybe high school is a good place to start.) Some other suggestions about preferences are embedded in the descriptions above, and it’s also a good idea to talk all this over with your counselor and parent/guardian.

Study Habits

Eventually, everyone learns that good study habits are important—some of us just take longer than others! For distance learning, good study habits are perhaps even more important, just because you aren’t in a room every day with someone whose sheer physical presence keeps you reminded of upcoming tests and assignments. The high-school teachers who teach distance learning classes, online or by video, are typically aware that their students are still developing their study habits and may be patient about issuing frequent reminders. College instructors, on the other hand, will post reminders but typically have higher expectations about students’ ability to organize themselves without mothering.

This ICN web site has some useful tools to help you diagnose your chances for success in distance learning. By all means, please check out the Essential Skills for Distance Learners as well as the variety of Learner Tools.

Cost

Unlike public schools that receive state and local funding to cover the full cost of educating students in grades K through 12, colleges and universities must charge tuition and various special fees to cover at least part of the cost. For the high-school classes, sometimes your local high school will pay the indicated cost—but not always, so checking with your guidance counselor is important for that reason, too. And if you enroll in a college class—or eventually get credit through Concurrent or Advanced Placement options—you should expect to pay some tuition at whatever point the credit is awarded. Sometimes, it will be the full amount, usually defined per credit hour (e.g., $150 per credit hour, or $450 for a traditional three-credit-hour class). As noted above, though, there are sometimes special breaks for high-school students—either a scholarship that waives all or part of the tuition or a special tuition rate lower than the standard fee. So don’t let the headlines about terrible college costs keep you from checking out the details for a particular class that catches your interest: if you can take it now for $50 per credit hour instead of later for $150, that’s $300 you’re saving (or your parents are saving) by getting a head start.

How to Enroll

Common Requirements

Each school or college offering classes has somewhat different structures and requirements for determining who can enroll under what circumstances (it couldn’t be easy, right?), but there are similarities. For instance, most will want to have at least the signature of your high-school guidance counselor on the enrollment form, and several will want a specific recommendation. Not only can the counselor verify that you are eligible to take the particular class in terms of courses already taken or currently being taken, the counselor will also know whether your school has the right technical connections in place for you to take one of the synchronous video classes. Some will want parent or guardian permission as well. If you want to take a class for dual credit (for example, one of the Advanced Placement classes from the Academy at Ball State), you may also need to indicate that to the institution (Ball State or Vincennes) from which you wish to receive the college credit.

Most colleges will require you to be admitted to the institution in order to enroll in one of their classes; several have special-admission status for high-school students, while others may require regular admission but have a streamlined process. Several waive or reduce the regular admission application fee. All will want to have a transcript of your high-school work to date and some confirmation from your counselor that you have permission from the school and are judged to be ready for this advanced study. The campuses which open selected classes to high-school students typically have a special office focused on such initiatives, or at least someone knowledgeable within their continuing education or admissions office who can take charge of these special cases and provide you specific advice. Wherever possible, we’ve provided a link to the relevant web site, where you can also find a phone number if you need to talk to a human being to sort out your questions.

How to Follow Up on a Specific Class

Each of the classes is linked to the full Course Information record in the online ICN Catalog. This record will provide a course description, delivery method, information about special requirements (access to certain kinds of computer equipment or software, for instance) or prerequisites (courses you should already have taken, or required minimum scores on placement tests), specific class meeting days and times plus semester start and end dates for synchronous and semester-based or accelerated courses, and a contact link for more information.

Ideally, you’ll find all the information you need to make a decision about whether you’d like to take that class, but since we can’t anticipate every question, there’s a human back-up for help. Sometimes there are two names. Usually the first listed is the distance learning coordinator for the campus (“Campus Coordinator”), who is at least knowledgeable for procedures and programs of that institution and who can help put you in touch with the right people for other help. In the case of the high-school programs, the person identified may be the outreach coordinator or headmaster. If there’s a second name, that’s likely to be someone associated with the particular program of which the class is a part (maybe in the school of arts and sciences or the music department) who can probably answer questions about course content and approach. If permission of the instructor is required for enrollment, either of those people can help get that determination.

You should not try to use the ICN form to request registration—that really only applies to undergraduate students enrolling between institutions. It would be a good idea to print off the Course Information sheets for all the classes you’re interested in and take all those to your guidance counselor (whether before or after talking to your parent or guardian is your call) along with whatever notes you’ve made from talking with coordinators at the offering institutions. If your counselor isn’t familiar with these newer kinds of opportunities, he or she can also spend some time browsing through the site to get a sense of whether this might be a good choice for you and whether the particular class you want to take would fit within your school’s structure.

This sounds very complicated in the telling, and it certainly isn’t as straightforward as signing up for a class at your local high school, but neither is it as bad as it may be sounding. Don’t let unfamiliar procedures prevent you from trying something new—remember, it’s only strange the first time around. If lots of people didn’t think distance learning could benefit you and others like you, the opportunity wouldn’t be there in the first place. Keeping yourself challenged and interested in learning is a reward worth pursuing!

General Information

Indiana’s colleges and universities provide a variety of classes and special programs to help high-school students prepare to be successful in college, even to get some college credits while you’re still in high school. If you live near a college, you may already be aware of classes you can take at the campus during or after school—or of concurrent classes offered in your own building. If you don’t happen to live near a college, though, you may think you’re out of luck.

Wrong! Many public and private colleges make these classes available via technology so you can enroll wherever you live. That opens a world of subject choices and helps everyone. After all, even the best high school can temporarily lose a key teacher, and there just aren’t enough teachers in some subjects to go around.

So why should you care? Isn’t life simpler if you just slide through school taking the easiest classes possible to keep up your grade-point average? Actually, no. For one thing, college admissions officers look at more than grade-point averages and SAT scores in making their decisions, so a high GPA, while important, won’t guarantee admission. Keep reading!

It’s become a cliché to point out that most well-paying jobs today require some form of postsecondary education. That may not mean a bachelor’s degree: it could be a community-college associate degree (because you just may decide later you want to keep going) or a formal apprenticeship program or technical certification of some kind.

Many lengthy research studies have documented that the single most significant predictor of college success (whether you define that as getting admitted, staying after your freshman year, or completing the degree in two or four years) is having taken challenging classes in high school. And these improved outcomes apply even more strongly to those whose parents didn’t go to college, those categorized as racial or ethnic minorities, those from low-income families, or those who are just late bloomers and haven’t done well in formal schooling.

So browse through the information at the left and you’re likely to find something that sounds appealing. Some high schools are already making classes available via technology, so you may have some familiarity with terminology already. More schools aren’t, so we explain the differences in format and delivery mode as well as offer some things to think about in terms of your own preferences and study habits.

Our advice is general, but since there’s really no such thing as an “average” person, it’s also important, once you think you might be interested, to talk about this with your school counselor and your parent or guardian. They can give you much more specific advice based on your own background and personality. But do consider the possibilities. If nothing else, most colleges are using technology in their campus-based classes much more extensively than are most high schools at this point, and you can count on needing to know how to learn successfully in this way (it’s more than knowing how to Google or use IM). And more and more employers are using technology in their training programs, so your future success in on-the-job training may also benefit from some early practice. Taking a class or two while still in high-school can give you a head start in many ways to a lifetime of successful learning.

Other College Preparation Opportunities

In addition to distance learning, Indiana colleges and universities offer a variety of programs to help high school students acquire college credits or prepare for college. Below are a few of theses programs, but click here to view the most up-to-date list of dual credit/concurrent enrollment providers. Also, check the institutional profiles for other details and contact information regarding opportunities for high school students.

The Advance College Project at Indiana University (ACP)

The Advance College Project (ACP) at Indiana University provides both high school and college credit (concurrent enrollment), and therefore, allow students to fulfill requirements for high school graduation and requirements for college admission while beginning a college transcript. The courses are designed for wide range of students, typically juniors and seniors who have a solid academic history and have interests that would benefit from acquiring college credit prior to high school graduation.

The Collegiate Connection

The Collegiate Connection at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne provides numerous Concurrent classes for students in northeastern Indiana. No application fee is required, and applications are accepted until mid-August (however, classes fill early, so selection may be limited if you wait until the last minute). Some financial aid is available to eligible students.

The Indiana State University College Challenge

The ISU College Challenge provides Concurrent opportunities for high-school students at their local schools with reduced tuition rates. More than fifteen high schools in western Indiana partner with ISU in making these advanced courses available to fit within the student's class schedule.

IUPUI Special Programs for Academic Nurturing (SPAN)

The Special Programs for Academic Nurturing (SPAN) Division of the Honors Program at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) allows high-school students to take college courses on campus alongside college students. SPAN helps motivated students get a head start on their college education or to take courses that are not offered at their high schools. There are two levels of entry into SPAN: the Running Start Program (also open to freshman and sophomores) and the Upperclass Program. Acceptance is based upon the number of years completed in high school and academic success.

Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana Dual Enrollment

Under a high school-based dual enrollment agreement, students in central Indiana can enroll simultaneously as a "courses only" student at Ivy Tech State College Region 8 and as a regular student at their high school, earning college and high school credits simultaneously. Several other Ivy Tech regions (particularly Kokomo and Terre Haute) are planning to expand their programs, so many opportunities are likely to be available throughout the state.

Project EXCEL

Project EXCEL is Vincennes University's concurrent enrollment program available to high schools throughout the State of Indiana. Using approved high school instructors, students take college courses during the high school day for a nominal per-credit hour fee. A wide range of courses are available to qualified high school students. A limited number of Project EXCEL courses are available via distance education.

USI College Achievement Program

The College Achievement Program (CAP) is a cooperative program between the University of Southern Indiana (USI) and participating high schools that allows highly motivated high school juniors and seniors to take college courses at their own high schools at reduced tuition rates. CAP courses are taught by select high school faculty trained by USI faculty.