Q&A about teaching high school students

Enrollment of high school students in college courses is increasing. The Dual-Enrollment Best Practices Faculty Learning Community at UAF was formed to develop ways to help instructors and students be successful. You may have many questions about your role as an instructor when these students join your classes. The following Q&A was designed to answer some of these questions.

Q: What is dual enrollment?
A: Dual enrollment means a student is simultaneously enrolled in a K-12 school and a university. In most cases, when they complete a college class they receive credit for it at both the K-12 and postsecondary levels. UAF encourages dual enrollment.

Q: How do I know if I have high school students enrolled in my course?
A: Students who are minors are identified in your course roster in UAOnline. Depending on your course, these students may be North Star College (middle college) students, AHEAD Program students, Alaska Advantage Program students, an independent high school student or simply first-year college students who haven’t yet turned 18. To see an individual student’s major status, which may be a better indicator than age, do the following:

  • Find your course in UAOnline (identify your semester and CRN).
  • Select “Detail Class List” from the menu. This view will allow you to see detailed information on each of your students (see example).
List of options within UAOnline

Degree status will be indicated at the bottom of each person’s detailed information. See example below.

Seeing a student's degree status.

Q: Should I change my class so that it is suitable for high-school-aged students?
A: No. Although inexperienced students may need extra guidance and support, they are enrolled in your class as a college student. You should not change your course.

Q: What special procedures should I follow when I have high schoolers in my class?
A: Treat these students the same as you would any first-time students. Provide them with resources and support but expect the same quality work and adherence to class policy as your other students. Dual enrollment does not require any special procedures but simply an understanding that these students may not be familiar with platforms such as Blackboard or university terms we use such as “syllabus.” Multiple Zoom-type sessions are offered at the beginning of each semester to new students through UAF CTL and CTC and these resources can be shared to help students better navigate their new experience.

Q: What is an Alaska Advantage student?
A: The Alaska Advantage program operates through UAF CTL and provides high school students the opportunity to take college courses at a reduced cost. Students can coordinate with an academic advisor to work toward a future degree, but the typical student takes one to three classes a semester to satisfy equivalent classes that are part of their high school graduation requirements. Students must meet all prerequisites to enroll. Courses are fully asynchronous and students are located in communities throughout Alaska.

Q: What is AHEAD?
A: The AHEAD Program is designed to add structure to the currently existing informal method of enrolling high school students for classes at UAF. High school students who want to receive official admission into UAF — an advantage in the registration process — and formal academic advising will want to enroll in the AHEAD Program. To qualify, students must have completed three-fourths of their high school core curriculum and have a cumulative 3.0 GPA or higher.

Q: What is the Middle College or North Star College?
A: Students in the North Star College are high school students from the Fairbanks North Star Borough (FNSB) School District completing their senior year while simultaneously taking UAF classes. Tuition is paid by the FNSB School District and students are accepted through a lottery, operated by the district. It is currently open to 40 high school seniors within the district. Students take seven to 15 credits per semester with a blend of in-person and online courses while also having full access to their high school. The students work closely with a UAF academic advisor and their school district counselor to select their courses based on high school graduation requirements and interest.

Q: Who should I contact if I have questions about any of these programs?

Q: What are Observers? What do they see in my course and should I contact them?
A: For students in the Advantage program, Observers are teachers or counselors connected to
a particular student, and their role is to support their dedicated student(s). They have very limited Blackboard or Canvas access, and can only see the academic performance information of the students to whom they are attached, the course syllabus and assignment due dates. In the vast majority of cases, these facilitators work directly with the student and do not access Blackboard. A more accurate term than ‘Observer’ would be success facilitator, but this is the account nomenclature within the Blackboard system and its limited permissions.

Observers are attached to students, not courses. For a student with an attached Observer, the Observer will appear in the course roster for all courses in which the student is enrolled. However, it does not mean that the Observer will have course access.

In Blackboard, under Course Management, you will find an item called Guest and Observer Access. If a student has an Observer attached to them, and if “Allow observers to access this course?” is set to “No,” Observers will still appear in the roster but they will not actually have access to the course.

“Observers” or facilitators greatly improve student success. During the Fall 2019 and Spring 2020 semesters, student success rates in the Advantage program were 91% and 96%, respectively. Facilitators help with things like reading the syllabus, understanding assignment due dates and managing the Blackboard learning curve. Successful dual-enrollment students often become successful UAF alum.

Q: Who do I contact for technical support for my high school students?
A: First, contact OIT as you normally would. For CTL courses, additional technical assistance is available.

Q: I am concerned about a high school student who is not participating in class. What should I do?
A: First, attempt to contact the student. If you do not receive a response, create a Nanook Navigator alert so that their advisor is aware of the situation and can also attempt to contact them. If a student does not engage in your course prior to the drop/add date, an early progress report to Nanook Navigator is integral in allowing them to make a wise decision with their advisor on whether to remain in the course or drop it.

Q: A student’s mom, grandma, dad or other family member has called me about the student. What should I do?
A: Talk to the student only, as you normally would with any student. Some students fill out FERPA releases and some do not. However, best practice is to always inform the calling adult that you would be happy to speak directly with the student and the student should reach out to you for an appropriate appointment time or utilize office hours. If it is an issue that another office can assist with (e.g., Disability Services), feel free to let the adult know about that office and that the student should contact them directly for assistance.

A headshot of Jen Peterson wearing a red sweater.

Jen Peterson

Assistant Professor of Psychology

Jen Peterson is an assistant professor of psychology at UAF. Her expertise includes behavioral neuroscience, cognitive psychology and lifespan psychology. She is interested in expanding the role of distance students in behavioral research and specifically exploring ways to get hands-on research experience for these students.

A headshot of Amy Bristor

Amy Bristor

Alaska Advantage Coordinator

Amy Bristor has over 20 years of experience in student services including dual enrollment support in Tech Prep, admissions registration and advising.

Misti Hopkins

Misti Hopkins has worked at the elementary, high school and university levels in direct student services and program management/coordination. She has spent the past 12 years in FNSB School District and UAF partnership programs such as I-AC Upward Bound, National Science Foundation STEM projects, Alaska Native Education, and Middle College.

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