Charles H. Flowers High School senior James Umagat spends his school week at two different school campuses for the same price: zero dollars.
Umagat, 16, of Upper Marlboro, is one of 10 Science and Technology seniors taking free college courses at Capitol College, a partnership in its second year meant to allow high school students to see the college life, earn credits before starting school and bring attention to the Laurel college.
“It’s a small college, but everybody there knows each other and it’s closeknit,” said Umagat whose class began Aug. 25.
The program, which also includes an internship, was piloted in the 2011-12 school year, and before graduation, all 11 students passed their fall and spring semester courses with A’s and B’s , said Lisza Morton-Wilson, Flowers’ science and technology coordinator. One student was even offered a full scholarship to Capitol College but turned it down to go to another school, she said.
Capitol College is a four-year school that specializes in engineering and computer science careers, said George Walls, director of admissions for Capitol College.
Students take one course twice a week in the fall semester and a second in the spring semester. Each student must maintain at least a B in the class to remain in the program and receive course credit.
It would cost about $4,000 for students to take two courses if they had to pay, Walls said. Walls said there was concern at first about bringing high school students into a college classroom to complete what he said is some of the most difficult coursework in higher education.
“To have them perform at the top of their class, even amongst the fully enrolled students was a very pleasant surprise and an affirmation to the whole idea of this structure,” Walls said.
Umagat said his teacher Shanice White recommended he do the program. To qualify, students like Umagat took a math placement test in the summer and interviewed with Capitol College staff before being selected.
Every Tuesday and Thursday, he carpools with fellow students to Capitol College to take his “Introduction to DC/AC Circuits” class .Umagat hopes to attend the University of Maryland, College Park, and major in aerospace engineering, where the credits he earns now could be transferred.
“It’s nice getting to see what college classes and college life is like,” Umagat said. “It’s a challenging course.”
Flowers principal Gorman Brown said he hopes to get funding for transportation that will take the students to and from Capitol College. He also wants to form similar partnerships with the county’s other colleges, such as Bowie State University and the University of Maryland, College Park.
“We’re excited about expanding opportunities for kids to learn outside of Flowers and to acquire college credits puts them in a position to start their college career off well,” Brown said.