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ALPHA Gives Academically Talented HS Students a Head Start on College Success

October 3, 2002

October 3, 2002, Greencastle, Ind. - Ian Serlin is a student at both Greencastle High School and DePauw University. He's one of 24 young people taking part in ALPHA, a program that allows advanced level students from four Putnam County high schools to take college classes for credit, providing what Suzanne Bates, DePauw's associate registrar calls “a ‘heads-up' on college.” Serlin calls it “a wonderful opportunity for high school students to push beyond their boundaries and delve into more diverse and challenging courses.”

ALPHA was implemented at DePauw in 1997. Unlike advanced placement classes, ALPHA allows the students to take actual college-level courses in a university setting, amid college students and for grades and course credit. Students must meet rigorous application requirements and, once accepted, must attend classes regularly and meet the same expectations as the DePauw students they share a classroom with. “The ALPHA students have a very good record of meeting the challenges we provide for them,” says associate dean of academic affairs Marnie McInnes. “They are very talented and serious students who come to learn and embrace the opportunity that ALPHA offers.”

ALPHA launched five years ago with twelve students in eight different departments. Today's 24 students study in twelve different departments. Ian Serlin says, “Everybody I've worked with throughout the ALPHA program, both Suzanne Bates who coordinates things, and all the teachers I've had over the years have been extremely supportive, intelligent, motivated and fun people. I feel much more prepared to take the next step into college,” he stated.

Another current ALPHA student, Adam Lorton, adds, “The ALPHA program is very helpful in that it helps students realize what college classes are really like. It can also help students hone in on what they'd like to major in: you're able to say either, ‘I'll never take another course like this again' or ‘This might actually be an interesting course of study.' The ALPHA program is definitely something that can give students bound for competitive colleges an edge.”

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