UC expands free online course offerings for CA high schoolers

The University of California today (Feb. 21) announced a major expansion of UC Scout, its online learning program to provide California high school students with free access to the courses they need to be eligible and competitive for admission into college.

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The program, part of UCSC Silicon Valley Extension, now offers 65 online classes, including each of those required to fulfill the “a-g” requirements for admission to UC and California State University, as well as 26 Advanced Placement (AP) classes. With $4 million in state funding from the governor’s 2016-17 budget, the program added and improved dozens of free online courses, from world history and law to engineering and 3-D design.

Reflecting the university’s commitment to equity and access, UC Scout works to ensure all California students have access to a high quality college preparatory curriculum, no matter where they live and attend school.

Currently, 47 California public high schools do not offer the full “a-g” curriculum required for admission to UC or CSU schools. Access to honors and AP courses also varies widely. Eight percent of California students attend high schools that do not offer any AP courses, while another three percent attend schools with four or fewer AP offerings, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics and the College Board. Research consistently demonstrates that students who succeed in AP are better prepared for college.

“This program is a critical tool to bolster college eligibility among California students, particularly those who attend schools with limited resources,” said UC President Janet Napolitano. “We are grateful for the state’s support of UC Scout and hope even more students will take advantage of the opportunities afforded by this easily accessible program.”

Through UC Scout, students can work through online course material at no charge under the direction of a teacher or counselor at their school, or, for a fee, they can take a premium course led by an accredited UC Scout instructor. (Some scholarships are available to cover the $169 fee for a course taken during a set term, or $299 for courses taken at a student’s convenience.) Schools can also use the platform and materials as a way to offer classes they might not otherwise have the resources to provide. All courses are UC-accredited and -approved.

In 2016-17, 259 schools participated in the UC Scout program, with 1,992 students enrolling in 3,672 courses. Enrolled students came from a variety of educational settings, including public schools, charter schools, independent study programs, juvenile justice facilities, adult education centers and community colleges.

“We want to ensure that all students with the potential to succeed in AP coursework are able to take advantage of those opportunities,” said Scott Hill, vice president for the western region at the College Board. “We applaud the recent expansion of the UC Scout program, which will help even more California students prepare for college and career success.”

To learn more about how UC Scout is helping to make higher education accessible to students in every corner of the state, or to access the complete UC Scout online course catalog, visit ucscout.org.

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