LEBANON, Ore. – For students at Lebanon High School, making it to graduation day – and into college – has just gotten a little easier.
Oregon State University, Linn-Benton Community College and Lebanon High School will sign a memorandum of understanding at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 30, at the LBCC Lebanon Center Annex. The agreement will enable Lebanon High School students to enroll early at LBCC and have a pathway cleared for their eventual entrance to OSU.
The program allows students to earn transferable college credit while still enrolled in high school. Each year, OSU will provide 10 scholarships of $3,000 to any Lebanon High School student who demonstrates financial need and earns their high school diploma and associate’s degree in this program. Students will retain this scholarship aid for a period of three years, assuming they continue to make solid progress toward a bachelor degree.
OSU has a similar partnership with Jefferson High School in Portland and Portland Community College.
“The Lebanon High School early college memorandum of understanding establishes an accelerated program that will let committed, capable Lebanon students simultaneously complete their high school diploma and earn an associate’s degree – and to do it all in five years,” said Oregon State University President Ed Ray. “The most dedicated students have the opportunity to earn both degrees in four years. At the end of four or five years, many of these students will – we hope – transfer to OSU to complete their four-year degree.”
Only 40 percent of Lebanon High School seniors graduate within four years (that number jumps to above 60 percent if you count those graduating within five years). Only about 14 percent of its residents have a college degree. Under these circumstances, college may seem a bit far-fetched. But the partnership with OSU and LBCC is making that dream a little more feasible for Lebanon High School students.
Principal Brad Shreve has just joined the district, and faces the challenges of tackling district-wide budget cuts and low test scores in a community that’s been hard hit by the recession. But he’s optimistic that working together with OSU and LBCC will provide some much needed support, and boost the rates of Lebanon students who pursue a college degree.
“Establishing an accelerated program that allows Lebanon High School students to simultaneously complete their high school diploma and earn an associate’s degree exemplifies the level of commitment we all know will result in making college and career success for our graduates a reality,” Shreve said. “I look forward to our ongoing work together toward achieving our vision of pursuing excellence for every student, every day."
OSU's participation in the program is an extension of its "degree partnership" agreement with Linn-Benton Community College that assists students in making a seamless transition from LBCC to completion of their bachelor's degrees at OSU. OSU is the only university to have such agreements with all 17 of the state's community colleges, and that has a special impact on historically underrepresented students, who are more likely than their counterparts to begin their higher education experience at a two-year college.