ProMod program gives Bioscience students head start at ASU

Florentino Beltran, a senior at Bioscience High school, enjoys the mentorship component of the Promod Program. (Nick Serpa/DD)

Seniors at Bioscience High School can earn 13 college credits for free before they’ve even graduated high school as part of a partnership with Arizona State University.

That’s the promise of ProMod, a program created by ASU that’s in its second year at Bioscience. It allows students at a handful of Arizona high schools to earn college credit by taking predetermined courses. As long as students go on to the university immediately following their graduation, they can obtain all of those credits at no additional cost.

“The implications are really staggering,” Terry Haggerty, counselor at Bioscience High School, said. “Programs like this just give kids even more reasons to get started right away.”

Students who participate in the program can earn credits in English, chemistry, sustainability and communications. Haggerty said it would include a mentorship program allowing students to learn about campus life, explore potential degree programs and scholarships, and get familiar with their mentors.

Parents, including those who may not have attended or completed college, will receive advice on financial aid and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, among other topics. The workshop is also available in Spanish.

“There is a pretty hefty time commitment for the families,” said Dr. Holly Batsell, principal of Bioscience High School. “Some families might not come to all of the meetings.”

About a year-and-a-half ago, ASU officials met with senior-level teachers at Bioscience and fleshed out the details of ProMod, including the classes that the following year’s seniors would be taking.

Last year the program was mandatory, but the school changed this policy after hearing feedback from students.

“What we found from [the students] is many of them didn’t necessarily intend to go to ASU, and we didn’t give them an option of opting out,” Haggerty said. “If a student absolutely knows they are going to school out of state, maybe they’re not signing up for ProMod.”

Haggerty said that while some students at Bioscience have opted out, around half of the senior class is participating, including Florentino Beltran.

“I want to go to ASU, and 13 credits definitely sounds like an advantage I would have,” Beltran said.

ProMod is designed to help motivate students to pursue a college education after graduation. It’s being funded via the U.S. Department of Education’s “First in the World” initiative, which split nearly $75 million in funding among 24 colleges and universities nationwide. But the federal grant funding ProMod is time-limited, meaning the partnership may not be around forever.

“More and more I think it’s an expectation that our students are going to graduate, the next step being going to college,” Haggerty said. “I would think a 13-credit head start by any standard is pretty great.”

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