Cabrini welcomes Cecil Early College Academy students
— Although it will be nearly two years until they concurrently earn their Oxford Area, Pa., High School and Cecil College diplomas, 11 Early College Academy students had a taste of what lies ahead on their educational paths by spending a couple of summer days on the campus of Cabrini University.
After moving into Xavier Residence Hall for a onenight stay, they immersed themselves in college life by participating in a program of exploration, which included workshops and activities led by Cabrini and Cecil staff and faculty.
“It was really exciting to be living on a college campus for a couple of days,” student Rhiannon Denison said. “Whether we go to Cabrini or somewhere else, it was beneficial to give us an idea of how colleges are set up.”
Denison especially enjoyed a workshop on inequality in the educational system. After listening to a lecture, the students brainstormed and presented ideas on how to fix the system. Other topics covered throughout the visit included divergent thinking, service learning, interviewing and networking strategy, and a well-received teambuilding game creation activity.
The work continued right
Early College Academy students tour Cabrini University.
through lunch on the second day when the students had the opportunity to chat with Cabrini and Cecil representatives about their careers. Although the schedule was tightly packed with academic activities, the participants also enjoyed some informal time such as having meals together and hanging out in the residence hall.
“It was really fun being around each other,” Denison said. “Most of us were friends, but just within school. This allowed us to interact with each other in a social setting.”
Denison is part of the first cohort of 17 students who began the Early College Academy in fall 2014. With curriculum designed to be progressively more rigorous as they progress from ninth to 12th grade, the students
are simultaneously enrolled in coursework that fulfills both high school graduation and associate degree requirements. Each year the number of high school classes decreases, and the college courses increase.
Thus far, all of the college coursework has taken place at Oxford Area High School. In the third and fourth years, the bulk of the time consists of college classes on Cecil’s North East campus.
“It’s been a little tough, but we are starting to figure out how to do it,” Denison said. “Since I will only have two high school classes next year, I think it will be a lot easier. You need to do a lot of planning and make sure you do your work way ahead of time and not wait until the night before.”
Denison, who is interested in a career in software engineering or biochemical engineering, plans to utilize this program as a springboard to at least three more degrees. She would like to eventually earn her doctorate and was attracted to the idea of accelerating the attainment of her educational goals.
“The sooner I can get an associate degree, then I can get a bachelor’s degree,” Denison said. “This is making my time in school shorter by a couple of years.”
Denison’s cohort was followed by 21 students who enrolled last fall and have completed the first year of the Early College Academy. With more than 30 students accepted for the third cohort, Cecil College and Oxford Area High School are gearing up for the largest class yet.
Early College Academy students took some time for a group discussion during their tour of Cabrini University.