WIU program opens STEM path for high schoolers

Area high school students who want to jump-start their STEM education and increase their chance of graduating college and winning a good job can sign up for a new program at Western Illinois University (WIU).

The WIU Dual Enrollment Program: A STEM Experience is an opportunity for students planning to enlist in four-year programs in the fields of science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) to engage in coursework on campus and online, the university said in a news release. 

The dual enrollment pathway can lead to programs based on either WIU’S main campus is Macomb or at WIU Quad Cities Riverfront campus in Moline. While there, high schoolers can meet faculty and other students, and if they enroll at WIU, they can take advantage of tuition discounts as well as WIU’s four-year tuition price guarantee.

Many high school students are eager to start college courses while still in high school, and the WIU dual enrollment STEM program provides students with an early start, said Katy Gorsuch, WIU undergraduate admissions associate director.

“There are so many terrific benefits for students who participate in this program, from getting a head start on university coursework at a discounted rate to connecting with faculty mentors and gaining valuable experiences that prepare them for college,” she added.

A grant opportunity also is available for the upcoming fall semester that will cover the remaining one-third of tuition costs for two classes, for up to 125 students in the Quad Cities area, including Mercer, Henry and Rock Island counties. The program also includes these other counties served by the regional university: McDonough, Hancock, Warren, Knox, Brown, Adams, Schuyler, Henderson, Fulton, Cass, and Whiteside. 

The university said WIU will feature three STEM courses this fall in flexible formats that fit with high school schedules, including:

  • Engineering (ENG) 105, offered on-campus Tuesday and Thursday, from 3:30-5:15 p.m., at WIU-QC Riverfront 122. 
  • Physics (PHYS) 101, offered online, asynchronous.
  • STATISTICS (STATS) 171, offered online, asynchronous.
  •  Additional courses are also available in flexible times and formats.

“Foundational courses in Physics, Engineering and Mathematics are designed to prepare you to think like a professional working in the STEM fields,” said Kishor Kapale, chair of WIU’s Department of Physics. For students, the courses are a “gateway into their future career as a STEM professional as they are made aware of all the possibilities that exist,” he added.

According to an Illinois Community College Board 2021 study, high school students who took advantage of dual enrollment opportunities had a 20% higher graduation rate over those who did not. To assist students with the transition from high school to college – and to reduce the cost of higher education – WIU offers several options for area students, including taking courses both on campus and online, the university said.

“Taking dual enrollment classes in high school helped me save thousands of dollars on my education and allowed me to get an entire year ahead in my undergraduate degree. I am now going into my second year at WIU as a junior in college. It was the best choice I ever made,” said WIU Junior Alix Potter, a law enforcement and justice administration student.

Since 2017, high school students from the Quad Cities area have had the opportunity to take classes online and at WIU’s Macomb and/or Quad Cities campuses.

“Western Illinois University is dedicated to creating innovative educational pathways that inspire students to pursue and accomplish their goals. High school students who participate in Western’s early admission program have a unique and affordable opportunity to experience University life and explore high quality academic programs and career interests right here in the Quad Cities,” said WIU Vice President of Quad Cities Campus Operations Kristi Mindrup.

Students interested in WIU dual enrollment STEM opportunities can contact Ms. Gorsuch at [email protected] or [email protected]. High school administrators interested in creating dual enrollment opportunities can contact Ms. Mindrup at [email protected].

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