Rockford Public Schools students to explore health professions at GVSU

GVL / Archive


GVL / Archive

Drew Howard

Grand Valley State University and Rockford Public Schools are helping high school students explore careers within the health professions under a new early college enrollment program beginning in the 2016-17 academic year.

Approved by the RPS school board on March 28, the introductory health professions program gives RPS high school upperclassmen the opportunity to enroll in two three-credit-hour introductory courses in the allied health sciences field.

Rockford students will later be able to apply these credits toward any four-year university or community college both in and outside of Michigan.

Michael Shibler, superintendent of RPS, said the program will help prepare students for the increased difficulty of college courses.

“For me, I wanted our high school students to plan to go to college and to have experienced the rigor of college classes,” Shibler said. “You leave high school and you start freshman year realizing it’s a bit tougher than you thought. The rigor is more apparent.”

The program will help relieve students of future college debt by offering the courses completely free of charge.

Jean Nagelkerk, vice provost for health at GVSU, said RPS will be responsible for funding the program.

“Rockford Public High Schools get certain money from the state to help pay for students to go to different colleges,” Nagelkerk said. “In addition, their foundation, the Rockford Education Fund, is giving them $25,000 per year to assist with paying for this program.”

The program will offer two allied health science introductory classes over the course of the 2016-17 academic year. These include Medical Terminology (AHS 100) in fall 2016, and Introduction to Health Care (AHS 110) in winter 2017.

Students won’t need to worry about commuting as both courses will be taught online by a GVSU professor. Additionally, students will be expected to meet up weekly with an assigned Rockford teacher for coaching sessions.

In order to be eligible for these early enrollment courses, Rockford students must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher, obtain written permission from their high school counselor or principal, and complete the GVSU non-degree dual enrollment application form.

Once accepted, a student can only continue taking dual enrollment courses with GVSU if they earn at least a C in each college course.

Nagelkerk said that while there’s potential for the program to include additional courses down the road, there’s no set plan yet.

“We pilot (the program) for two years and then decide if it’s a good thing to add additional courses,” Nagelkerk said. “We’re open to it, but neither one of us is committed to it.”

For the past three years, Rockford has operated a similar dual-enrollment program with Ferris State University. Shibler said he was interested in creating a new partnership with GVSU specifically for the university’s extensive health program.

“I’m very excited about the GVSU partnership,” Shibler said. “It’s in the area of health sciences, and we want our students going into college to experience a field of study that’s going to lead to a job when they graduate.”