Thursday, February 22, 2024

College at Cascade


Cascade High School (CHS) offers free dual (high school and college) credit classes at multiple post-secondary schools across Washington state. A CHS student can earn up to 60 credits through Eastern Washington University (EWU), Central Washington University (CWU), Wenatchee Valley College (WVC), and the University of Washington (UW), while still having an authentic high school experience and without leaving the high school campus. “Students can use {dual credits] by transferring them to the university they want to go to," said Mrs. Schafer, who oversees scheduling students at CHS.

In addition to offering dual credit, these classes prepare Cascade students for the more difficult workload at college, allowing them to meet state graduation requirements, and help their families save money on college tuition. The average cost of a college credit is $600, so by taking just one college level course at CHS, students can save approximately $3,000.

Another benefit of taking these challenging courses while still enrolled as a high school student is the support of a high school teacher and staff. “It’s much different because you’re still in high school and technically it’s college content. So, the teachers are a lot more lenient on some things and it’s also way easier to get help when you need help than it would be in an actual college situation,” explained ‘22 graduate Ruthie Biebesheimer.

Classes provided range from CWU Physics to WVC Childhood Development. The classes are self-selected, and while there are benchmarks suggested prior to enrollment, any student can take part. Most of the courses are designed for enrollment during students’ junior and senior years. Freshman and sophomore students who are considering college and wanting to challenge themselves are encouraged to take “honors” designated and advanced level courses.

Enrollment alone is not enough to ensure earning credit. Students must pass dual credit classes with a “C” or higher in order to earn college credits. High school credits are still awarded to students who pass with a “D.”

Most credits provided at CHS are directly transferable to universities in Washington state and many out of state colleges. They also help to make a student’s college and scholarship application resume stronger. Credits that do not transfer directly are counted towards college elective course credit. “[CHS staff] try to spread [the courses] out over the year so that we can offer them all at different times, so that kids that are interested in taking those classes have the opportunity to take as many of them as they can. We spread them out over the whole year, because we’re such a small school, in order to offer those, we spread them out, so that the upper end kids that want to take classes like that have the availability to take all of them,” said Schafer.

CHS’s College and Career Counselor, Mrs. Rieke, meets with students to help them understand their options for life after high school and begin to design their college schedule. “I hope that they can use [dual credit courses] to reach their goals whether that be a degree or a certificate. Maybe they get some sort of prerequisite out of the way or, at a minimum, I’m hoping that they at least get a base to be able to apply to another college course,” said Rieke.

In addition to offering “honors” courses, specifically designed to prepare students for college level work, for sophomore and freshman students, the CHS English department offers a college class at both the senior and junior levels. Their junior year, they can take Ms. Robison’s EWU writing class that covers seven distinct types of college level writing. If they feel comfortable with their abilities, they can move on to the EWU Reading course taught by Ms. Rosenfield, their senior year. The reading course involves class discussions and comprehension of complex texts such as Dracula and Lord of the Rings. Rosenfield would recommend her class to “anyone who thinks that they want to go to college, especially if they want to save some money when they go to college. People who are looking for a little extra challenge, who maybe are bored by traditional English classes, or there’s not enough going on. People who think that they would enjoy reading higher level literature and discussing it.”

The history department also offers many college-level coursework within CHS. U.S. History is a graduation requirement at CHS, and any CHS student can take the college level history class during their junior year. History teacher, Mrs. Renner-Singer, teaches the EWU U.S. history course at Cascade. “We have to follow the requirements of Eastern Washington to do the five credits. [Students] learn the same content as a standard U.S. History class, but the textbook is college level. There’s more reading and writing. Then we have to do a big research project with a writing component with it,” said Renner-Singer. She would recommend the class to anyone who “can take on a larger workload.

Mr. Allen’s EWU Phycology course is also offered through the history department. “There are a lot of projects in the class. So, the class is a lot of note taking. It’s not like your typical ‘here’s a worksheet, read the book, do the worksheet.’ It’s ‘here’s the information and here’s a project where you have to apply that information that you just learned to the project,’” said Allen.

There are a variety of challenging math and science classes offered for upperclassmen as well. Mr. Massey’s University of Washington Calculus courses are offered for students who are confident in their math capability and would like to move on to more difficult mathematics. “It starts with Pre-Calc. And so, you’re supposed to take Pre-Calculus first and then Calculus I and Calculus II. I think anyone who does well in Algebra II could easily handle it and maybe should take them,” explained Massey.

Other college-level classes offered at CHS include WVC Childhood Development, EWU Phycology and WVC Natural Resources (which students at any grade level can enroll in). While some courses are offered annually, others are offered based on student interest and may fluctuate slightly from year to year. Senior Vanessa West will graduate from CHS this year with 51 college credits. “These classes have prepared me for taking harder courses when I go to a university and taught me why time management is important, because the workload is a lot more than core classes,” said West. Senior Brendan Fallon has earned approximately 45 college credits during his time at CHS.  Taking college level classes “definitely made [high school] more challenging, but I think that’s a good thing,” said Fallon.  “Because I want to go to college and it’s good to practice that level of work right now with the support of my high school.”

Senior Vincent Slette will be graduating this year with 35 college credits and a variety of certifications related to fire fighting.  “I wanted to save money and many teachers encouraged me to take college courses for two reasons: because they are higher level – you learn more- and you save a lot of money.  In addition, you don’t have to take them at college, and they are easier at the high school, because you have regular access to a teacher,” said Slette.



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