CPS, UC partner on new associate degree pathway program

Cincinnati Public Schools is teaming up with the University of Cincinnati to make higher education more accessible to many CPS students.

The College Innovation Pathway – a College Credit Plus program – is a first-of-its-kind initiative in the district that will enable students at Shroder High School to earn an associate degree at the same time as their high school diploma.

Participants will do so by transitioning into college-level courses, enrolling through UC, while still in high school. Students will have free access to a comprehensive curriculum and diverse class choices to tailor their experience to their educational interests.

Shroder High School

The overall goal is to save students money on college-related expenses and provide them a head start on their future academic goals, according to CPS.

“The College Innovation Pathway highlights our efforts to transform high school options by expanding access to early college programming and career pathways,” said CPS Superintendent Iranetta Rayborn Wright. “By offering a seamless transition from high school to higher education, we are empowering our students to unlock their potential while also having affordable access to a degree.”

A first-of-its-kind endeavor

The College Innovation Pathway program will open to ninth-grade students. They’ll go through a first-year experience course co-taught by a UC faculty member and CPS teacher. The class format aims to equip students with the study, time management, writing and communication skills to succeed at the college level, per CPS. 

Students in the cohort will work alongside their classmates. However, through the Pathway, they’ll also have the opportunity to take classes at all three of UC’s campuses.

CPS has other college readiness initiatives, such as TEACh Cincinnati through Miami University that aims to develop a pipeline of future educators. Students in that program participate in College Credit Plus courses before attending Miami University; however, they don’t graduate with an associate degree. 

The College Innovation Pathway is the first district partnership to offer that benefit.

An aerial photo of the University of Cincinnati campus. (Photo by Casey Weldon)
University of Cincinnati main campus

“This program creates brighter futures for CPS students,” Jack Miner, UC’s vice provost for enrollment management, said of the new initiative.

The Pathway is part of Launch UC, an early enrollment effort by the University of Cincinnati. It’s focused on creating accessible and equitable pathways for high school students to college.

Not only will participating in the program “lay a foundation for a student to pursue a four-year degree saving as much as $60,000 in tuition and expenses,” Miner said, but it will also provide an alternative path for students who don’t want to attend college immediately after high school graduation.

“Earning an associate degree in conjunction with their high school diploma gives these students more job options and higher earning potential,” Miner added.

A new pathway developing next year

Incoming freshmen at Shroder High School will be eligible to apply to the program, which launches during the 2024-25 school year. Upon completion of the program, students will earn an associate degree. After that, they’ll have the ability to earn a bachelor’s degree from UC or any other college they choose to in half the time it would normally take, in most instances.

Interested students and their families can attend a College Innovation Pathway information session at Shroder on Thursday, May 2. It goes from 6 to 7 p.m.

“This initiative underscores our partnership with UC and our continued vision to create equitable opportunities for our students,” Wright said.

Cincinnati Public Schools


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