Building pathways from high school to college
Heather Dodds' Brooklyn Center High School (BCHS) classroom is one of the best places in Minnesota to learn about psychology. Through the U of M College in the Schools (CIS) program, Brooklyn Center students take the same Introduction to Psychology course as the students on the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus—the same lectures, textbooks, and exams. BCHS students in the course are often first-generation, college-bound students from families challenged by poverty and racism, and they are determined to succeed.
Dodds has been teaching Introduction to Psychology at BCHS through the College in the Schools program since 2018. CIS is a dual-enrollment program through which high school students who successfully complete the class earn college credit. U of M courses are taught by high school teachers who have been trained by college faculty for a particular course.
Dodds describes her course as being fast paced with lots of information. She makes sure her students understand that they will need to do six to nine hours of work per week outside of class to keep up with the material. These are students like Caitlin Khang, who would like to be a therapist or perhaps a doctor someday; David Ly, who knows college will be challenging and that he will need to manage his time carefully; and like Nicky Yang, who will attend the University of Minnesota Twin Cities beginning this fall.
Aside from helping her students navigate the content, Dodds also helps them with time management and is their full-time cheerleader, supporting them as they advance their educational and career skills and knowledge.
Concurrent-enrollment programs like CIS have been shown to significantly improve college entry and college completion rates. The program has also proven to be an important yet underused lever for equity, improving educational outcomes for students from high-poverty backgrounds.