SCRANTON — Lackawanna College announced its Level Up Lackawanna partnership with the Abington Heights, Mid Valley, Riverside and Wyoming Area School Districts during a roundtable discussion April 5.
Level Up Lackawanna will allow high-achieving students to earn an associate degree in select majors by the time they graduate from high school through a combination of dual enrollment classes offered on-site at each partnering school district, evening or late afternoon classes on site at Lackawanna, online classes, and summer terms. Eligibility will be based on academic achievement.
The program aims to reduce or eliminate financial and social barriers to higher education enrollment, retention and completion. The degree path is priced at $6,200 with opportunities to have the program fully funded, potentially making it free to students.
“We saw the opportunity to make dual enrollment more meaningful,” said Lackawanna College Vice President for Academic Affairs & Chief Academic Officer Erica Barone-Pricci, Ph. D. “Conceivably, a high-achieving, highly motivated student could walk across the stage at (high school) graduation wearing an associate degree robe, as well.”
Barone-Pricci added that students who decide to further their education at Lackawanna will also be eligible for financial assistance.
“If an associate degree graduate chooses to stay with us for a bachelor’s degree, we’ll offer them an academic scholarship at least equal to the amount they paid for the associate degree,” she said.
The Level Up program will also offer students an opportunity to earn college credits without committing to a full degree.
“We created bundles of certificates around our most popular majors, including Business, Criminal Justice, Healthcare, Human Services and General Education, to help students earn between 14 to 24 credits that are easily transferable,” Barone-Pricci said. “It will give students the opportunity to explore college while the stakes aren’t quite as high.”
According to Lackawanna College Executive Vice President & Chief Innovation Officer Jill A. Murray, Ph. D., high school students in the program will be treated the same as those already enrolled in the college.
“They will have access to all the student support services, including tutors and counselors, that our students have,” Murray said.
Another aspect of the program will be catered toward students interested in pursuing a career in the healthcare fields through informational sessions, mentoring opportunities, and course work.
“Healthcare plays a vital role in Northeastern Pennsylvania,” Barone-Pricci said. “We know that, probably, for the foreseeable future, our largest employers are going to be healthcare organizations.”
Abington Heights Superintendent Michael Mahon, Pd. D. is excited that students who have been pushing themselves academically will be properly compensated for their achievements.
“We’ve been talking about this for a long time and we firmly believe that college-level work should be given college-level credit, regardless of the setting,” Mahon said. “We’re very excited about this partnership and we will be able to deliver opportunities to our kids that they have not seen before.”
Students from the partnering school districts are currently being approached to sign up for the program and will begin taking classes in the fall.
“It’s part of our commitment to the region,” Lackawanna College President Mark Volk said. “It’s a partnership that we believe will have tremendous benefits for the students, the schools, and our area in terms of training individuals for future jobs.”