Over the next month, Oakland Schools is hosting Information Nights for our highly-esteemed ACE program. We encourage you to attend one of these sessions:
All meetings are from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
- Jan. 30, OCC Auburn Hills, 2900 Featherstone Road, Auburn Hills, building F, room 123
- Feb. 7, OCC Orchard Ridge, 27055 Orchard Lake Road, Farmington Hills, building B, room 210
- Feb. 15, OCC Royal Oak, 739 S. Washington Avenue, Royal Oak, room B-217
However, if you are unable to attend, but are still interested in ACE, please take time to read this Frequently Asked Questions blog written by Jim Troost, who directs the program.
- What does ACE stand for?
ACE stands for the Accelerated College Experience. “Accelerated” means we accelerate high school students into college classes. It does NOT mean the program is only for accelerated students. You do not need to be a “straight A” (or even B) student to join the ACE program.
- Please describe ACE.
ACE is an early college program that allows high school students to start college while they are finishing up high school. Students attend their home high school for morning classes in 11th and 12th grade, but spend the rest of their time at Oakland Community College (OCC). Then, the program covers their first year of college as a full-time student at OCC. At the end of the three years, students graduate with their high school diploma and as much as an associate degree from OCC. Best of all, there is no charge to the student or the parents for college tuition, fees or textbooks! Students make a gradual transition from high school to college and earn transferable credit to the college of their choice.
- What year did ACE begin? Why?
ACE began in 2013 as a collaboration between Oakland County school districts, Oakland Schools, and OCC, but the early college concept had existed in Michigan for a few decades in places like Washtenaw Technical Early College and Mott Middle College. The movement began as a method for making college accessible and successful for low income and first generation college students. These students face obstacles to college success that have little to do with academic ability. Provided with support for the transition from high school to college through early college programming, students overcome these obstacles and can be set on a path to college and career success. ACE was conceived as a collaborative program for Oakland County high schools (responsible for recruiting, enrolling and funding the students), Oakland Schools (which manages the program and delivers the student supports), and OCC (which provides the college courses and credits).
- Name some benefits a student will receive from participating in the program.
Students receive up to 62 transferable college credits (as much as an associate degree) at no cost to them. The program (funded by the high schools) covers all costs for tuition, fees and textbooks. Students are also supplied with computers for use during their three years in the program. The greatest benefit students receive is assistance making the transition from high school to college. Students meet with ACE staff in weekly seminars all three years of the program where their progress is monitored and they receive assistance with everything from note taking and time management to college applications and career exploration.
- Please describe what makes a student eligible for ACE?
To be eligible for the ACE program, a student must either be eligible for the National School Lunch program, or be a first generation college student, which we define as having parents without 4-year college degrees. Eligible applicants are in the 10th grade at the time of application and willing to commit to all three years of the program (grades 11, 12, and their first year as a full-time college student). As part of the application process, students take a reading and writing placement test at OCC called ACCUPLACER. To be accepted into the ACE program, students must score high enough on the test for placement into college-level English at OCC. Finally, students must have their own transportation to and from OCC.
- How can someone apply for ACE?
Applying to the ACE program is a multi-step process that begins with Application Part 1, found at Oaklandace.org. Once completed, those forms must be printed, signed and submitted to a high school counselor. After the forms are processed, ACE staff contacts the student with information regarding the ACCUPLACER test. Once an eligible score is earned on the test, students complete final paperwork (application part 2) and are admitted to the program. At high schools with large demand for the program, the high school may have a final selection process before students are enrolled in ACE.
- What can I expect to see at an Information Night if I’m able to make it?
Information Nights are held for prospective students and parents to learn the specifics of the program and to get their questions answered. An overview of the program structure is provided and sample schedules are reviewed. Copies of application part 1 are available, along with assistance for completing the forms.
- I’m interested in the program, but don’t meet the requirements. What else can I do?
Most high schools offer a variety of options for students to earn college credit while in high school. Several high schools even have their own early college programs. The ACE program is designed to provide specific supports to low income and first generation college students. If that is not you, check with your high school counselor about other possibilities such as dual enrollment, Advanced Placement (AP) courses or other early college programming such as the Oakland Technical Early College.
- Please describe how this program is totally free to students.
For the benefit of their students, high schools have been paying for students to take college classes for years through a process known as Dual Enrollment. In this program, students take a few college classes that are not offered at the high school. By adding an extra year after 12th grade through ACE, a student can attend many more college classes and have it paid for by the high school. The high school can count the student for an additional year and receive additional funding from the state, making the program affordable or possibly free. In addition to the extra funding, state pupil accounting rules allow high schools to claim additional funding for student schedules that exceed 100 percent of full-time. In most cases, the combination of high school and OCC schedules result in schedules that exceed the definition of full-time. Combining the extra year of funding for the student’s 13 year and the additional funding for these “overages,” some high schools end up with a net cost of $0 for a student’s three years in ACE. How the numbers come out in the end depend upon the per-student allowance that the school district receives from the state.
- Why participate in ACE versus going a traditional high school route?
The traditional route of completing high school and then heading off to college is certainly the choice of the majority of students. Going that route, students can experience everything offered by their home high school in terms of academic and extra-curricular offerings and they can then transition themselves to college with a clean slate. Going the ACE route means missing out on some of the high school experience. ACE students are only at their high schools in the mornings during their 11th and 12th years. Participation in extra-curricular activities like sports, plays, and things like choirs and bands, can be done by ACE students but require a good deal of time management. All this being said, for the student who feels ready for the next step a little early, or does not see a clear path to college without supports like those offered by ACE, the program is an opportunity to get as much as two-years of college done with $0 in student loan debt. ACE does not just put students in college classes. ACE helps students figure out why they want a college degree, how to achieve it and what to do next.
- How can I convince my parents/child that this is the right step?
ACE is a great opportunity for many, but not for all. Ultimately, the student has to want to be in ACE. There is a great deal of independence that comes with college classes. Students that do not want to be there simply do not attend. Rather than pushing a student into ACE, students should be advised on the program’s methods. ACE teaches students how to be successful college students. ACE staff encourages, advises, instructs and counsels students on how to communicate with college instructors, how to get help with coursework, how to manage their time efficiently and so much more. Prospective students/parents should consider whether or not this type of support is needed. If so, why not give ACE a try? Students can try it for a semester and go right back to a full-time high school schedule if they find it is not the right fit. It is very rare for a student to do that, but sometimes they acknowledge that this is an option and that is enough encouragement to give the program a try. Once in the program, most of the students love it.
Jim Troost is the Supervisor of Student Programs at Oakland Schools. Please contact him for more information about ACE at firstname.lastname@example.org or 248.209.2396.