Young Scholars Program Marks 20 Years of Educating High School Students

Thousands of high school students throughout California have been able to earn college credit prior to graduation—saving them money and reducing their time to a college degree— through the California State University, Dominguez Hills Young Scholars Program, which turns 20 in 2014.

To mark the anniversary and showcase the program, Center for Mediated Instruction and Distance Learning staff producer Mario Congreve and instructional designer Calvin Ko made a video of how the Young Scholars Program has benefited students at Monache High School in Porterville, Calif., for more than 10 years.

The Young Scholars Program is part of the CSU Chancellor’s Office fee waiver initiative, which was established in 1985 to offer qualified high school students access to college courses at a reduced cost— as little as $3.50 a course—for the purpose of assisting high schools in “meeting the needs of gifted students” and expanding efforts to provide such programs to underrepresented students.

While a number of CSU campuses created on-site programs through this initiative, CSU Dominguez Hills opted to adopt a distance-learning model that Cal Poly Pomona had started, and in 1994, after Pomona ended its program, began broadcasting its Young Scholars Program courses on local television.  Five years later, CSU Dominguez Hills became the first and continues to be the only CSU campus to webcast these courses on the Internet.

“This made it possible for high school students throughout the state to enroll in the program,” said Warren Ashley, director of the Center for Mediated Instruction and Distance Learning, which oversees the Young Scholars Program on campus. “Many small towns in California do not have access to a university with a Young Scholars Program.   For communities like Cottonwood, Trona, Big Bear, Etna, and Porterville, Dominguez Hills is their university.”

Today, 45 schools participate in the CSU Dominguez Hills Young Scholars Program, not only in northern and central California, but also locally at high schools such as Leuzinger High in Lawndale, Torrance High, Redondo Beach High, New Millennium in Gardena, St. Mathias in Downey, and California Academy of Math and Science right here on the university’s campus.

Four courses are offered each semester to Young Scholars Program participants; however they cannot take more than two a term.  This semester students are taking The Individual in Society (SOC101), Introduction to Marine Life (BIO190), Critical Reasoning (PHI120), or Looking at Art (ART100). In the spring they will have the choice between American Institutions (POL101), Television, Theatre and Film (THE100), Planetary Science and Astronomy (PHY195), or Health and Lifestyles (HEA100).

“These are college courses with the same syllabus as their equivalent on-campus course,” Ashley said. That is what Monache student Sartaj Sandhu, a junior, likes best about the program. “The thing I like best about the courses I take in the Young Scholars Program is the difficulty of the courses,” he says in the aforementioned video. “They challenge you and really make you think, and that’s how college is going to be so it really prepares you for college.”

The courses are broadcast on local cable and webcast live at dhtv.csudh.edu from 3-4:30 p.m. either on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Participating high schools provide a classroom setting for the students in the program to tune in to the courses, or students watch from the comfort of their homes.

Interaction between students and the course instructor is facilitated via phone calls or email messages delivered on the air during the class.  All classes are also archived on the university’s YouTube page, youtube.com/csudhtv, for those who cannot view it live. In addition to the 90-minute class, enrolled students have access to their class’s Blackboard page to participate in forums, access materials, view videos, work in groups, complete assignments and take exams.

“This Dominguez Hills project certainly has helped students to bridge the gap between high school and college,” Monache teacher Mike Dupree says in the video, “and I think if we expand the program and more universities would do this we would have a much better group of incoming freshman in the community college and the Cal State system.”

For more information on the Young Scholars Program at CSU Dominguez Hills, visit www.youngscholars.tv.