November 25, 2013
Each year, shortly after Bryan Collegiate High School’s graduation ceremony, Dr. John Beaver receives a slim package in the mail.
Upon opening this annual delivery, Blinn College’s dean of Academic Affairs takes several moments to examine each proud, eager face in a photo depicting Bryan Collegiate’s most recent graduating class. This year, those 52 faces included students accepted at top Texas universities such as Texas A&M, Sam Houston State and Texas State, and out-of-state institutions such as Columbia College in Chicago and the U.S. Naval Academy.
“I look at that photo and I think, ‘How many of these kids would be going anywhere without Bryan Collegiate?” Beaver said. “I’ll bet 90 percent of them would not be headed to college. I’m very proud of the difference we’ve made in these students’ lives and through them the impact we’re having on the community, one family at a time.”
Bryan Collegiate is the result of a unique partnership between Bryan ISD and Blinn College that places students on the fast track to a college degree. Through a curriculum that includes dual credit throughout all four years of their high school experience, graduates leave with not only their high school diploma, but also 40-60 college credit hours they can transfer to a four-year degree. The school estimates that between tuition and books, students who complete the program receive an estimated $15,000 in college savings at no charge.
Roughly 70 percent of Bryan Collegiate students are first-generation college students, and 19 students in last year’s graduating class were the first in their families to graduate high school.
“It’s making a generational impact in these families,” said Principal Christina Richardson.
It’s also making an incredible impact in the Bryan-College Station community. Earlier this year, Bryan Collegiate was ranked among the top 5 percent of high schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The school also earned all three Texas Education Agency (TEA) distinctions, making it one of just five high schools in Education Service Center Region 6 to do so.
The school, which opened in 2007, will see its fourth class of graduates cross the stage in June before transferring to universities and colleges across the nation. “The proudest I am of Bryan Collegiate is when the students graduate and you see the institutions they’re going to,” Beaver said.
Bryan Collegiate currently enrolls 344 students and aims to accept between 100 and 115 each year. Students who apply are considered based upon their attendance, interview and essay responses. Per TEA regulations, Bryan Collegiate cannot consider academics, discipline or teacher recommendations and the school’s demographics should reflect those of the surrounding district. As an early college high school, Bryan Collegiate must target and enroll a majority of first-generation students from low-income families.
Once accepted, students are taught study and time management skills to prepare them for the demands of college coursework, personal finance skills in preparation for life as an independent adult and how to complete the college application process. The school also utilizes regular parent meetings to keep parents informed and help students succeed.
“The biggest thing we do is build relationships, and that’s why you don’t want early college high schools to grow too large, because it’s important to provide each student with a strong support system,” Richardson said. “The biggest thing this campus provides is that relationship and that support structure.”
Bryan Collegiate students have access to Blinn’s Library, Writing Center, tutoring sessions, mathematics lab, Learning Center and computer labs.
Blinn instructors travel to the Bryan Collegiate campus to teach courses to freshmen and sophomores, while juniors and seniors travel to Blinn for classes on campus. Senior students take just one class at Bryan Collegiate while the remainder of their schedule consists of Blinn coursework.
By the time they have completed their senior year, most students can enroll in college as juniors. “These students are sought after by college admissions departments because they’ve already proven they can do college-level work,” Richardson said. “We try to explain to students what it will mean to them, what it will mean to their future, but it’s not until they graduate that it really hits them.”
Bryan Collegiate will host an informational session for potential applicants Dec. 3.
For more information on Blinn’s Dual Credit Program, visit: www.blinn.edu/dual_credit/index.html. Blinn’s academic transfer rate is the highest in the state and its tuition and fees are one-third the cost of most Texas four-year colleges and universities.
Registration is now available for Blinn’s Winter minimester and Spring semester.PHOTO – A unique partnership between Bryan ISD and Blinn College allows students at Bryan Collegiate High School to graduate with not only a high school degree, but 40-60 hours of college credit. From left: Bryan Collegiate Dean of Students Tommy Roberts, Principal Christina Richardson, seniors Kassie Osburn and Martin Rodriguez, Blinn Interim President for Brazos County Campuses Sylvia McMullen and Blinn Dean of Academic Affairs John Beaver.