COLCHESTER, Vt., Jan. 23, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Saint Michael’s College in Vermont last February launched “SMC First Class” to help families address the cost of college by offering high school seniors a no-risk, free introduction to college courses. More than 70 high school seniors successfully completed last year’s offerings and earned credit, and this year as February approaches, registrations are far outpacing last year with 120 high school seniors already registered and administrators opening up additional sections to meet demand. 

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“There is no question that families are very interested in this new initiative as a way to ‘test drive’ the College, but also interested in ways to save money and reduce the time-to-degree,” said Sarah Kelly, Saint Michael’s VP of enrollment and marketing, originator of the First Class program, adding that of the 90 who enrolled in SMC First Class last year, 66 enrolled at Saint Michael’s. “The success of SMC First Class is a clear example of how colleges must be creative and innovative in demonstrating their value in this hyper competitive and cost-conscious environment.  Higher education is the last bastion of markets ‘buying on faith’ – you wouldn’t buy a car without taking it for a test drive.”

Through this program, Early Action admits are offered a free, four-credit course during the spring semester of their senior year of high school.

How it works:

This year students will select from courses in literary studies, environmental studies, personal financial planning, or world politics. All courses are taught by Saint Michael’s faculty, both online and on-campus.

Enrollment VP Kelly spelled out the particulars in Q&A form:

  • What are the deadlines? Can credits transfer? Prospective Saint Michael’s students who were accepted under our Early Action deadlines (Nov. 1 and Dec. 1) were invited to enroll in a real, rigorous, four-credit “hybrid” model course that is free to them if they end up enrolling at Saint Michael’s (and if they go elsewhere, the credits transfer for a $1,500 fee — still a bargain for four credits. The fee is waived if the student is Pell-Grant-eligible).
  • What do these “First Classes” look like for students? Students who registered by the Feb. 1 deadline last year were credentialed and received access to our learning management system and student portal.  Students prepared for the first course, which took place on campus a Sunday in mid-February prior to an accepted student event the following Monday. The rest of the course was delivered online, with students completing independent assignments and coming together for threaded discussions and video chats.  The courses run until late April. This year’s timeline and model are nearly identical.
  • Why now? Families are increasingly questioning the logic and value of investing the time and money in a four-year degree without some ability to try it out first. Colleges that can provide these opportunities and other innovative ways for families to save will benefit.
  • Benefits to the College:  Early Action applicants are typically the strongest academically, so the more the College can keep these highly coveted students engaged, the better.
  • What do students get out of it? The value of a normal four-credit course for free (if they enroll or decide not to take the credits with them), the opportunity to experience and establish ties with campus, faculty and other students. Having more credits under their belts early-on helps assure ambitious students’ ability to graduate on time, or even early.
  • Start on a path to graduate early. The College has also launched the Degree in Three initiative, which provides students in eight popular majors pathways to achieve their degree in just three years.

SMC First Class webpages:

About Saint Michael’s College

Saint Michael’s College, founded in the great Catholic intellectual tradition, which also recognizes the principles of social justice and compassion, is a selective, fully residential Catholic college in Vermont’s beautiful Green Mountains. Our closely connected community delivers internationally-respected liberal arts and graduate education near Burlington, one of the country’s best college towns. To prepare for fulfilling careers and meaningful lives, young adults here grow intellectually, socially, and morally, learning to be responsible for themselves, each other and their world.

For more information, contact:
Mark Tarnacki


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SOURCE Saint Michael’s College