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Program marks 40 years of offering college credits to high school seniors

In education circles it's called concurrent enrollment. Your high school student might know it as SUPA. It's Syracuse University Project Advance, and it's celebrating its 40th birthday, with enrollment skyrocketing in recent years.

"In 2002, that's when I took over as director we had about 2,200 students. This year we've registered over 10,000 students," said SUPA Director Gerald Edmonds.

In schools in central New York Schools, teachers learn the SU curriculum and then teach it to high schoolers. Those students are then able to transfer these credits to many colleges and universities. SUPA started 40 years ago as a cure for "senioritis," offering challenging classes to seniors who were winding down their high school career, and beyond that, it also helped deal with difficult transitions to college for some seniors.

"So in some respects, the credits some students earn, are almost secondary. The skills they learn, time management, the work ethic that allows them to make that successful transition, are some of the most important elements of the program," said Edmonds.

A SUPA credit costs $110 dollars, and is free to Syracuse City School District students. Edmonds notes that the Obama administration has been encouraging schools to let students get college credit at the same time they are earning a high school diploma.

Edmonds says SUPA has also been growing overseas, and China is the next market the program plans to tackle.

"We're not operational in China yet, but in Dubai, we've sent faculty members over to Dubai. The visits are done electronically, so we've done a web conference where the students and class will be on one end, and the faculty is on the other.  We just have to match up time zones, and work is reviewed electronically."


Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.