Getting an early taste of college rigor


For Somerset High School students, it's an unbeatable option.

If the students are up to the task, they can receive up to six credits from the University of Minnesota, along with learning how challenging that college-level courses can be. And they can do it for free.

The classes are American History 1307 and 1308, taught by Dennis Potter. Regular history courses are taught at Somerset, like every high school in the country as are advanced placement (AP) courses.

"This class is more rigorous than regular American history classes," Potter said of the courses he teaches. "And in May, students that perform well on the AP exam might earn from one to three college credits. Awarding these credits is up to the university that the student applies to."

Potter said he believes the college courses are superior to even the AP courses that are being offered.

"AP classes are rigorous classes. Kids who take AP classes get intense instruction. And kids are given college credit for AP courses if they successfully pass an exam offered to students around the nation. Most students who take an AP class do not receive any college credit because most kids don't take the AP exam," Potter explained. "And even among those who do take the exam, most get one college credit because the exam is hard. If students get a good enough score, colleges are free to offer from one to three college credits. CIS courses, on the other hand, guarantee college credits for all students who take and complete the course."

History 1307 and 1308 are offered through the University of Minnesota through a program titled "College In the Schools," which is available to juniors and seniors at participating high schools. Somerset is the only school district from Wisconsin to be included in the program through the U of M.

By taking this course, students face the rigor of college, because this is an actual college course. The credits they can earn from the U of M are transferrable to any university throughout the country that accepts credits from the U of M.

With college credits costing hundreds of dollars, the opportunity to take these free courses can save students and their parents a significant amount of funds.

"Furthermore, students who attend college don't have to take the required American history class when they attend as freshmen, because they already would have taken it at Somerset High School," Potter said.

SHS students who take these courses are treated as freshmen at the University of Minnesota.

They can attend all sporting events free of charge (except football, men's hockey, and men's basketball). They can also get tutoring the same way that students on campus get it. And it's all free.

Somerset High School has added another CIS option this year, CIS education, which is an elective this year, taught by Kelly Emerson.