ASU Prep: Experiencing College Success in High School

Key Points

  • High school students can have huge contributions to real world problems.

  • Success in college experiences and courses while in high school builds agency as well as academic skills and provides pathway acceleration.

ASU West

What if high school students had the chance to design climate change projects with university professors?

A few dozen ASU Prep Digital students are meeting with ASU professors this semester to develop climate solutions. Topics range from recycling and rapid water testing to human impacts on microbiology. The students, who do most of their high school learning online, are thriving in a college environment. Students work with Environmental Science faculty on projects and receive presentation support from the Communications Lab on the ASU West campus in Glendale, Arizona.

During the project, several short sprints developed relevant skills. Professor Perla Vargas invited the students to observe physical traces of human impact on a natural setting of their choosing. Students observed parks, lakes, parks and roadways and reported back to Dr. Vargas and the class with a fresh perspective on human impacts and possible remedies.   

One team of ASU Prep Digital students studied the environmental factors of homelessness. For part of their presentation of learning, they developed an interview podcast (listen below) discussing mitigation strategies. In addition, please check out this post written by a 10th grader at ASU Prep Digital about how valuable their experience at ASU West has been.

ASU Prep is a network of innovative schools sponsored by Arizona State University. They include 12 campuses in metro Phoenix serving more than 3,100 elementary and secondary students and ASU Prep Digital which provides full and part time online learning experiences to thousands of students in Arizona and around the world.

ASU Prep students are encouraged to take ASU courses when ready to experience success in college and get a head start with affordable credits. They can choose from Universal Learning®️ Courses that allow students to decide at the end of their course if they would like ASU Academic credit or Concurrent Courses. 

The ASU Prep Digital experiences on the ASU West campus are one version of hybrid learning, mixing online and onsite experiences, to emerge during the pandemic. These hybrid experiments laid the groundwork for a new generation of microschools leveraging ASU locations and ASU Prep infrastructure. 

Coming Soon: New ASU Pathway Opportunities 

ASU Prep Pilgrim Rest will open in September as a P-6 school on the campus of Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church just east of downtown Phoenix and a few blocks from Chase Field (home of the Diamondbacks) and Sky Harbor Airport. The beautiful school facility includes labs to support hands-on science and will feature an ASU DreamScape Learn virtual reality lab. (See video tour.) 

Two small hybrid high schools will open this fall, one on the ASU West campus and the second, focused on digital arts, on the new ASU Mesa campus. The new ASU Mesa facility (just opened this month) includes state-of-the-art digital recording and display equipment. It sits across the street from Mesa Arts Center, home to world-class theaters and studios. 

For more see:

The New Pathways (#NewPathways) campaign will serve as a road map to the new architecture for American schools, where every learner, regardless of zip code, is on a pathway to productive and sustainable citizenship, high wage employment, economic mobility, and a purpose-driven life. It will also explore and guide leaders on the big education advances of this decade–how access is expanded and personalized, and how new capabilities are captured and communicated. When well implemented, these advances will unlock opportunities for all and narrow the equity gap. You can engage with this ongoing campaign using #NewPathways or submit an idea to Editor using the writing submission form.

Tom - Speaking Engagements

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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