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New program allows Franklin High School students to earn credit for Rutgers courses

 Franklin High School, located in Somerset, New Jersey, will soon be allowing high school students interested in healthcare fields to take courses that translate to Rutgers credit. The program will select 24 students for its first year.  – Photo by Google Maps

A new program presented Wednesday night will allow high school students from Franklin High School, located in Somerset, to earn 10 credits from Rutgers by the time they graduate, according to TAP Into.

At Franklin Middle School—Hamilton Street Campus, Eric Siegal, district supervisor of science at the school, introduced the program to a group of parents. Twenty-four students interested in working in the healthcare industry will be chosen for the program, and will take classes throughout high school that also counts as University credit. The initiative, considered a "health professions academy," aims to give students at Franklin a unique opportunity in all aspects of healthcare.

“Not all healthcare is delivered by doctors. If a student is interested in working as a lab tech, or medical assistant, or a nurse, or a phlebotomist who is someone who draws blood or maybe working in a psychiatric institution ... this would be a program that prepares students to major in those fields,” Siegal said. “With the aging population we have in this country, there will be a lot of STEM jobs available to students to serve in a healthcare capacity that’s not necessarily a doctor.” 

The program will start this September, with incoming first-years taking courses such as the Dynamics of Healthcare, Medical Terminology, Human Anatomy, Math in Medicine and Scientific Principles of Nutrition. High school teachers at the school will be accepted as adjunct faculty, with the curriculum being identical to classes offered at Rutgers. At the end of each class, these students will also take the same exam as the one given at the University for their respective classes.

“It’s the same curriculum, same exam, but it's done at Franklin High School. These are official Rutgers credits and the grades will appear on a Rutgers transcript as if they had gone to Rutgers as an 18 or 19-year-old freshman,” Siegal said.  

He encouraged all students to apply, emphasizing to parents that it was not exclusively for the most high-achieving students.

“This is not an honors program. This is not selected for a few. We’re looking for students at about a B-plus who have good behavior and good attendance,” he said.  

The selection process involves a board-approved rubric in which academic performance has an equal weight to personality. Siegal said this was because the program hopes to foster nurses and health practitioners who have empathy, so while students will be judged on grades, essays and letters of reference, they will also be judged by an interview.

The district will look at students' average grades over the span of three years in mathematics, science and English, as well as PARCC test scores, a letter of interest written by the student and an in-person interview to select the first group of students in the program. All of the requirements will take place while students are in school, including the interview and written letter of interest.

Rutgers will require these students to take certain prerequisites, such as biology for first-years and Algebra I. In the case that a student wants to take a different science class, such as AP Physics, Siegal said they would be accommodated on a case-by-case basis.

To stay in the program, students must maintain a 74% average for courses in the program, and an 80% in their classes overall. They are also required to complete 10 hours of clinical experience.

“It could be going to the doctor's office with a relative or witnessing or participating in physical therapy,” Siegal said. “Anything relating to a health profession. It’s a very large umbrella of activities that are approved.” 

Siegal also assured parents that these students would also have time for other extracurriculars.

“They can still do sports, they can still do after-school activities, they still take the same bus. The only difference is for certain courses throughout their four years, they’ll be taking courses together as the 24-person cohort,” he said.  

The program is also much cheaper for these students than what it would normally cost. Ten nursing credits at Rutgers would cost approximately $4,630, but the exam fees for the high school students in the program add up to $140.

While the program only limits students to gain 10 credits, the district hopes to increase that amount to a maximum of 34 credits. 

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