The Great Junior Migration: U-32 Students Choose to Attend Norwich for Early College

This article was written by Avery Ryan, a Journalism student and editor for The Chronicle.


Next year, a significant number of U-32 High School juniors are choosing to attend Norwich University for Early College. This not only goes along with the trend, as more and more students choose to attend each year, but also shows a steeper increase at U-32. “I can understand why, it gives students the opportunity to get college credits and not have to pay for them,” said Steven Dellinger Pate, U-32’s principal and WCUUSD’s soon-to-be superintendent.


Kyle Pivetti, a Norwich professor, is seeing the increase of Early College students around the state in his English classes. “We have many more early college students than I think we’ve ever had…numbers [are] going up sharply,” he said, after teaching at Norwich for 12 years.


According to the State of Vermont Agency of Education, the Early College program was expanded in 2013 as part of the Flexible Pathways Initiative. The State of Vermont Agency of Education explains that the initiative, “encourages and supports the creativity of school districts as they develop and expand high-quality educational experiences that are an integral part of secondary education in the evolving 21st-century classroom.”


The amount of Early College students from Early College has increased over the years. (Avery Ryan)- Featured Image


The Early College program also impacts high schools in Vermont. “When you lose students, you lose money,” Steven said. The money follows the student to the college, taking away from their high school budget. “We don’t get that support,” said Steven Dellinger-Pate.


U-32 students who attend Early College impact class sizes in the high school. Aanika DeVries, the AP Biology teacher, sees the decline in enrollment next year in her class. “Instead of a class of 18, there’s a class of 8,” she said. This decline is because of the lack of seniors in the class next year.


Zachary Gonzalez, a social studies teacher at U-32, said that “the increase of seniors taking advantage of the early college program has been dramatic.” He also believes that, “I see losing a not-so-insignificant portion of the senior class year after year as detrimental to the culture of U-32.” Zach thinks that losing parts of the senior class is losing leadership in the building.


Students at U-32 are choosing to attend Norwich for many reasons. Josephine Mikus sees academic opportunities there. She wants to take the next level of chemistry at Norwich, because of her plan to pursue a science-focused career.This is something she won’t be able to do at U-32. Josephine feels ready for the next step. She said, “I feel like I’m done with high school mentally, I feel like I’m just ready to move on.”


Wyatt Malloy wants to expand his academic opportunities too. He hopes to take more engineering and computer science classes at Norwich, as he has already taken the classes at U-32. “I’ve maxed this out here,” Wyatt said.


The financial opportunities of attending Early College is also a factor, given that students there will be able to earn college credit at a fraction of the cost of traditional college. “[I want to] get that financial burden out of the way,”said Wyatt.


Cal Boyd wants to make the most of his educational opportunities. “I just thought it’s about striking a balance between challenging yourself and preparing for the future that you want to have,” he said. With one more year of high school English left to complete, he will finish those credits at Norwich. Cal also looks forward to being in a new place.”It’s gonna be cool to be on such a different campus,” he said.


Cal Boyd views the Norwich Application Portal. (Avery Ryan)


The juniors choosing to complete their high school experience at U-32 are content with another year in the building. Annabelle Morland explained that the atmosphere of Norwich wasn’t right for her. As far as classes go, “[there’s] nothing that I would get at Early College that I can’t have here,” said Annabelle. It would also be difficult socially for her to attend Norwich. She said, “I have too many friends here.”


Ray Shangraw said that it, “was never really an idea for me.” They plan on taking a baking course at another Flexible Pathways opportunity—the expansion of the Career Center program in Williston, Vermont.


Willa Long, who attended Norwich this year for Early College, had an overall positive experience. “The biggest thing I liked about it was the amount of free time. I felt like I wasn’t really stressed at all,” she said. Willa continued to play soccer for U-32, which she found was a great way to stay connected with people while attending Norwich.


The difficulty level of classes at Norwich was something that stood out to Willa.”They were definitely way easier than my classes here would have been,” she said.


Willa’s success in classes lined up with Professor Pivetti’s observations. “In most cases, teaching early college students has been really great,”said Pivetti. He also described his Early College students as “having a lot of motivation” and being able to “thrive” in Norwich’s atmosphere.


Greta did Community Based Learning and studied veterinary science during her senior year. (Greta Little)


Other seniors chose to stay at U-32 for their final year at the school. Greta Little was concerned about missing out on the social scene at U-32 if she were to attend Norwich. “I [would] feel so out of touch with like everything,” she said.


She was also concerned about her credits transferring, as she plans to attend UVM for college. “I was kind of worried that it was going to be difficult or stressful to figure out [the credits],” said Greta.


Eddie Sayers also chose to complete high school at U-32. He trains all year round to throw for track. “I was thinking I was gonna get way too much homework and not be able to practice as much,” he said.


For students on the fence about whether to go to Early College or not, Willa believes that you need to consider all of the opportunities available. She recommends taking the class Advanced Expository Writing before you go to Early College, “It made me a better writer times 40,” she said. Willa was happy with her choice to attend. “I’m glad I did it,” she said.


Steven also sees the program as a great opportunity to get a headstart on a college degree. He also thinks that, “It just depends on the kid as to whether or not it’s a good first step for them.” 


Whichever path students choose, Steven believes that they should stay in touch with their high school as they complete their senior year. “How do we make sure that kids who do decide to do Early College still feel connected to us?” he asked. That is something many schools around the state will consider as the popularity of attending Early College increases.

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