Rowan University and the Camden City School District (CCSD) announced an expanded Pathways to College program June 23 that will enable 11th and 12th grade students to earn free college credits toward a four-year degree.
Under the agreement, Camden High School juniors and seniors will take up to four semesters of college courses with faculty at Rowan’s Camden Academic Building, 129 N. Broadway, earning up to 18 credits while completing their high school degree. Students will enter the program as a cohort, or group, and take up to three Rowan classes each semester in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields or humanities and social sciences.
The Pathway program’s offerings will also expand opportunities through career and technical education in a variety of fields including allied health, biomedical science, education, theatre, audiovisual communications/broadcast journalism, and computer science.
“Pathways” to college
CCSD State District Superintendent Katrina T. McCombs said the Pathways to College initiative builds on established pre-college programs by creating opportunities for high school students to not only gain college credits before graduating but to learn from professors in a university setting.
“We’re providing an incentive to students who, upon graduating, will have a great head start and who will be motivated to complete their college degree,” McCombs said. “We’re also expanding career and technical education offerings for students who seek to enter the work force right out of high school.”
The Pathways program began as a pilot during 2021-22 and is expected to triple enrollment for the 2022-23 school year.
“Our expectation is that starting this fall we will have at least 30 students taking part,” McCombs said.
Building on history
Glassboro-based Rowan has maintained a Camden campus since 1969, working closely with district educators to provide a network of pre-college and dual credit programs for high school students.
Rowan President Ali A. Houshmand noted that the new Pathways program is significant because it not only continues the University’s presence in Camden, it expands it.
“The Camden City School District rightfully prides itself on having some of the brightest and most talented students in the region,” Houshmand said. “The new Pathways program is part of a network of resources that we, in partnership with the District, are building so these same students have the opportunities, resources and support to succeed in college.”
Benefitting students and parents
The expanding Pathways program is the latest between Rowan and the CCSD, a relationship dating back more than 50 years, to support pre-college students and their families.
Under Rowan’s Center for Access, Persistence & Achievement (CAPA), an office formed to expand opportunities for historically underrepresented students, the University last year created The Launch Pad at Camden, which provides dual credit and early college course work and resources as well as recruitment and financial aid guidance for high school students seeking a college degree.
Through CAPA, Rowan also offers ASCEND, which is focused on academic and social development; CHAMP/GEAR-UP, which supports middle and high school students as they prepare for college; and Upward Bound for English Language Learners, which serves students from low-income families who are first-generation college-bound.
Career and Technical Education
Camden’s new high school campus opened last fall with more than 1,200 students and a focus on four learning communities – Brimm Medical Arts, Creative Arts High School, Big Picture Learning Academy, and Camden High School.
Rowan and the District seek to further grow their partnership by exploring connections between the Camden Creative Arts Academy and the University’s College of Performing Arts as well as between Brimm Medical Arts High School and health professions programs at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University in Camden and the School of Osteopathic Medicine in Stratford.
Supplementing the partnership to support students was the creation last fall of the Martha F. Wilson Parent Academy, which Rowan is leading.
Mrs. Wilson, who passed away in 2020, was a longtime champion for Camden City students and served in a variety of functions including Board of Education vice-president, Advisory Board president and committee chair for communications & technology and parental involvement.
The Parent Academy helps parents and guardians manage career and college opportunities for their children including offering guidance on the college financial aid and admissions processes.
Seven parents participated in the inaugural year’s program, which featured activities to help support first-generation students entering college. Among them, parents learned to help complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®), the required document for students seeking college loans and grants.
Through the Martha F. Wilson Parent Academy, parents become familiar with the college planning and application process and the importance of building early college credits. Rowan counseling, admissions, and financial aid staff work with parents to provide support to move their children along the pathway to college and parents, in turn, become ambassadors in the community to expand the program each year.