WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita students in the ninth grade were finalizing their enrollment at Friends University on Wednesday. The ninth graders were greeted at Friends University with balloons and the marching band playing at 9:30 a.m.
As the students exited their bus with big grins, they gave high fives to Dr. Preston Todd, Assistant Dean of Friends University.
The students were taken into the school auditorium where they were able to ask questions about different program options.
They were able to explore the campus, take their picture for their ID cards, check out the student book store and have lunch in the cafeteria.
The university assistant dean says the students will have all of the same resources available to them as full-time students.
The high schoolers can take up to 60 credit hours at Friends University and graduate with two years worth of college credit, enough for an associate’s degree.
The students had to apply for the program and be selected to participate. Those who were selected will go to school an hour earlier than their peers and leave school an hour earlier to go to their college courses.
“This is an absolutely outstanding opportunity for these students. The early college academy selected 50 students from throughout Wichita,” said Principal Eric Hofer-Holdeman, Wichita Northwest High School. “It is housed at Northwest High School, but the students are coming from all 17 of the middle schools.”
The students who are enrolled will have all of their college expenses paid for, completely free with no cost to them. USD 259 says a private benefactor is sponsoring the program to just do right by kids, to give back to kids in Wichita.
“To provide this opportunity can change lives,” said Principal Hofer-Holdeman. “College these days as well all know is incredibly expensive and for some it can be out of reach just for financial reasons, and this program not only gives them the foundation academically, but gives them a leg up financially because of these advantages.”
The selected students say they are excited about this opportunity, and they believe this will give them the chance to experience what college life is like.
“I think it’ll give us kind of like a head start, it’ll help us in a way of where we want to go in our life and we can decide,” said Taylor Kilpatrick, a freshman student.
The students also say they know this will come with challenges, but they know they can do this. They say it’s an opportunity others shouldn’t pass up.
“I’m excited because we’re going to be out of our comfort zone and have new challenges that we’re going to face every day,” said Martin Lopez, a freshman student. “And it’s like going to help us grow as a person more.”
Students and administrators say this program can change lives, and they encourage all of this year’s eighth graders to apply.
For more information or to become a donor visit: usd259.org.
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