UA Early College program gains traction in Chilton County

Published 5:15 pm Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Dr. Cheree Causey (right) and Claire Harris, both representatives of The University of Alabama's UA Early College program, speak to school administrators and counselors Tuesday at Chilton County High School.

Dr. Cheree Causey (right) and Claire Harris, both representatives of The University of Alabama’s UA Early College program, speak to school administrators and counselors Tuesday at Chilton County High School.

Representatives from The University of Alabama spoke to school administrators in Chilton County on Tuesday about a UA program available to students wanting to earn college credit during high school.

Students who are eligible for dual enrollment courses and meet grade requirements may earn high school and college credit for certain courses through UA Early College.

Dr. Cheree Causey, director of UA Early College, said her staff members work with counselors at individual schools to ensure students in the program are on track to not only succeed in the college courses but also to graduate from high school.

The program is in its fourth year and currently has about 1,000 students from 29 different states, as well as foreign countries including South Korea, Japan and Germany.

“It is a very comprehensive program,” Causey said. “Your students in Chilton County can be studying with students from all over. This is the very same curriculum that if you’re a freshman, sophomore or junior, you would be taking these classes.”

In July, the Chilton County Board of Education approved for Schools Superintendent Dave Hayden to sign an agreement with UA to allow students to take dual enrollment courses online through UA Early College.

Hayden said school counselors and officials would meet soon to determine which dual enrollment courses students could take through UA Early College in order to receive high school credits to count toward their diplomas.

“For the right students, I think it will be a great program,” Hayden said.

Causey said more than 200 schools in Alabama have the dual enrollment agreement with UA Early College.

Started in 2009, UA Early College is open to high school sophomores, juniors and seniors who have maintained a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher since the ninth grade, are currently between the spring of sophomore year and the fall of senior year and are ready for college-level study within a support network.

Students who meet these requirements may enroll and complete courses online during the fall and spring, on-campus during the summer or both.

Online courses engage students in learning through group projects, class chat sessions and discussion boards, Causey said. Students also learn how to write college essays, write citations and effectively communicate with professors and participate in an academic community.

“UAEC 200: Gateway class” is a prerequisite to all other program courses and counts for two hours of college credit.

“We require students to take Gateway class,” Causey said. “It opens the ‘gateway’ to everything we offer to them.”

The Gateway class is two credit hours and is similar to a freshman study skills class.

Students can earn up to 30 hours (a full year) of college credit and enter UA as freshmen, even if they earn 30 hours along with AP credit.

Typical UA Early College courses include humanities, social and behavioral science, natural science, fine arts, literature, history, computer science, language, math and composition. (Specific offerings vary by term.)

The program allows students to be eligible for UA admission without submitting a test score (ACT/SAT) and have priority choice of residence hall.

Credits from UA Early College transfer to most colleges and universities nationwide.

Causey described UA Early College as “a nice opportunity for the students to get ahead” in that they may complete core classes prior to starting courses in their majors, allowing them to take fewer credit hours per semester and devote more time to difficult major classes.

“We do advising with your students,” Causey said. “We help them look at the classes they might want to take to pursue that degree. We make sure that they’re ready.”

Aside from dual enrollment courses offered at Jefferson State Community College in Clanton, UA Early College is currently the only online dual enrollment program at a four-year university available for Chilton County students.

For more information or to apply, visit or speak with a representative at 1-877-823-8759.