High school students gain ‘ACCESS’ to college through WVU program

Monongalia and Preston

A group of high school students participate in West Virginia University’s High School ACCESS program. (WVU Photo)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The majority of high school students who are considering college now value affordability, community and an immediate career path over the student experience – and hundreds are earning credits toward their degree by taking college-level coursework through the West Virginia University High School ACCESS program. 

For $25 per credit hour, sophomores, juniors and seniors can take courses online, at WVU’s main campus or in select high schools that offer dual enrollment. The program, open to anyone eligible nationwide, also empowers students to test the waters before committing to college. Program Coordinator Rishira Dille said ACCESS is open to students from all around the country who are at least sophomores and have a 3.0 GPA or higher.

Rishira Dille

We welcome them and from all walks of life and demographics. If the students want to do college courses that are specifically for their intended college degree, whether that be a four-year institution or community college, or if they were more interested in obtaining dual credit or dual enrollment credit for college courses that they can receive under a high school curriculum, they are welcome to use our courses for that as well.  

Rishira Dille – Program Coordinator, WVU High School ACCESS

If you can imagine, Dille said, there are hundreds of opportunities for students to take classes at WVU. They can do so each semester until they graduate from high school and take full advantage of what the university has to offer.

The benefits of taking college courses as a high-schooler, Dille said, are “ample”. If students start in 10th grade, for example, it is recommended that they start off with a 100-level course. But when they’re done, they can use that credit for whatever degree they’re planning to take and they can also obtain credit on their high school transcript.

This, of course, will go toward their GPA.

“That helps to increase their GPA standing, it does allow them to become more motivated in terms of their academics,” Dille said. “And if they continue to do that throughout their 10th-grade year, junior year and senior year, not only will it better prepare them for the rigor of academics in college and also the true experience and knowledge that they’re going to be receiving, that puts them a little bit further in graduation. And it’s a little bit less money that Mom and Dad have to pay in true undergraduate tuition costs.”  

Besides that, Dille said, one of the greatest benefits is the experience students receive not only from the college course but, also, the actual college experience.

One further benefit is the RaiseMe Program, which gives ACCESS students micro-scholarships dollars as they go along with their coursework. These monies can go toward their college tuition whenever they graduate high school.

High school students earn credits toward their college degree through WVU’s High School ACCESS program. (WVU Photo)

Anyone who is interested in learning more about ACCESS, Dille said, should get in touch with their high school counselor.

“I work with the high school counselors pretty much all over the United States, but specifically for the state of West Virginia,” Dille said. “We have quite a number of our high schools that teach our dual enrollment courses within the high school. So, year after year grading after grade rank, these students are hearing it not only from their high school guidance counselors and principals, their Board of Education offices, but, also, by word of mouth. We have students, siblings, cousins friends from all over the United States that hear about this program.”

Dille said she attends as many virtual and in-person information sessions with students as she can. If students want her to visit their school to discuss ACCESS, she will if it’s feasible.

“And then of course we have wonderful help with the WVU admissions teams, our regional recruiters, the departments themselves, professors, alumni, everyone, really, kind of helps to get the word out for this opportunity for the students. At $25 a credit hour, you can’t beat that. And so, and this is this open to the whole country, we just we want everyone who’s eligible to take advantage of it,” said Dille.

WVU’s downtown campus

Dille asked that people spread the word about WVU’s High School Access Program and, again, for people to get in touch.

“Feel free to go to the ACCESS website. Like I said, all the information that you could possibly need is on the website. That’s the best way to reach me. We’re actually still teleworking from home due to the pandemic, so anyone that tries to contact me via voicemail or email, that information will come right to me. And like I said, I welcome all students from all over the country if they have a 3.0, send them my way,” Dille said.

The ACCESS program can be reached by phone at 304-293-9420, or via email at accesswvu@mail.wvu.edu.

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