We need to tell more Georgia high school students they can Move On When Ready

A complaint that began at Georgia Tech has led to a new HOPE policy that will benefit STEM students statewide.

Rick Diguette is a local writer and college instructor. He is great essayist on college readiness and higher education. Today, he tackles Georgia’s Move On When Ready program, which he coordinates at his campus.

I concur with his observation the program is under-utilized. I also agree many more high school kids could benefit if they understood what the program was and how to apply.

By Rick Diguette

I have written before about Georgia’s Move On When Ready (MOWR) program.  Briefly, it allows public and private high school students as well as home schoolers to earn college credits while at the same time completing mandatory high school graduation requirements.

That they can do this at virtually no out-of-pocket cost is an obvious added bonus.  But too many parents and students are left to figure things out for themselves, and that can be frustrating ― for parents, for students, and for MOWR coordinators like me.

The first thing many parents and students don’t understand is that participation in MOWR requires admission to a Georgia public or private college or university.  The GAfutures.org website, which is chock full of valuable, easy-to-access information about planning for college, doesn’t make this crystal clear. Nor do some MOWR webpages maintained at participating colleges and universities.  It’s also worth noting that while many of Georgia’s colleges and universities have a MOWR program, the admissions requirements vary.  So some digging may be necessary to find out just what those varying requirements happen to be.

The next thing parents and students can find confusing is the admissions process itself.  What they must understand is that MOWR applicants go through the same process required for students applying as entering freshmen or transfers. And if they are applying for admission to fall semester, they will definitely not be alone. Thousands of other students will also be applying to start in the fall, which means that admissions departments are dealing with massive amounts of paperwork that won’t get processed over night. It can sometimes take up to two or even three months for students to learn if they’ve been admitted to the MOWR program.

Another point worth noting is that MOWR and Advanced Placement are not the same or even equivalent, nor were they ever intended to be. There is no question that both add rigor to a student’s high school transcript, but they accomplish this in very different ways. Some high schools are much more eager for their students to take AP than they are to see them go off campus and attend classes at a local college. Some guidance counselors advise against MOWR, maintaining that students with the best prospects of getting admitted to the college of their choice will be those with a transcript full of AP credits. But there is also much to be said for giving students an opportunity to gauge the difference between the high school and college learning environments. Loading up on AP credits won’t necessarily prepare them to navigate those differences.

In my view Georgia’s MOWR program continues to be under-utilized by our high school students, especially those in metro Atlanta where access to local colleges and universities is more readily available than it is in other areas of the state. Georgia Tech, Georgia State, and Kennesaw State all have MOWR programs, but that might not be as widely known as it could be.  I also suspect more students would participate in MOWR if we could guarantee that they get all the information they need when they need it.  That, I’m forced to admit, is still a work in progress.

 

Reader Comments 0

39 comments
Joe in Co
Joe in Co

I was a professor at a state college in Georgia and have taught MOWR students. Mr. Diguette does not address a fundamental issue with MOWR: emotional maturity/ preparedness for college work. I would not advise my son or daughter to take college courses before their senior year, and yet I saw freshmen and sophomores regularly admitted to my classes who were not yet ready to manage college-level work or that environment. Most distressing of all, I saw students in the USG eCore program who were high school freshmen placed into my online course who were clearly not capable of managing the workload of a college-level course. 


It feels good to tell your friends that your student is taking a college course while in high school. It feels good not having to pay for that first year of college (assuming they pass). I can think of a lot of reasons why this would be good for the parent (and even a few financial/enrollment reasons why it's good for Mr. Diguette and his counterparts at other state institutions), but I can't think of many reasons why it's a good decision for the learner. 


We need to remember that age-appropriate work is important AND that emotional maturity has as much to do with academic success as their ability to work a formula or write an essay. 


redweather
redweather

@Joe in Co Your experience is very different from mine. The MOWR students I see are typically some of the strongest academically in the classroom. As for their emotional maturity, I haven't seen any appreciable difference when compared with recent high school graduates. 

Georgia's legislature has determined that MOWR should be funded and promoted as an educational alternative for high school students. That's fine by me, and fine by many of the parents I've spoken to. With the ever increasing cost of higher education, they are glad that MOWR allows them to defray some of that cost.

Joe in Co
Joe in Co

@redweather @Joe in Co Our experience is different, then. For every exemplary MOWR student who could handle the academics AND illustrated the maturity necessary to succeed, there was one who didn't even make it to the end of the course. Meanwhile, they're seen as an enrollment band-aid for a system that isn't pulling in enough graduating seniors. 


It's unsurprising that parents tell you they like it. They get to brag on their kids and it lowers their out-of-pocket cost. However, that doesn't mean it's good for the student's educational development, nor does it substantively address the increasing cost of higher ed. 



Joe in Co
Joe in Co

@redweather @Joe in Co


I don't teach there any more. I started a new position out of state in May. I taught there for 6 years, was tenured, taught upper division, Honors, etc. I agree that many of these students are excellent students. It was my experience, though, that just as many were running into a buzz saw. 

  • Students must have a 3.0 high school GPA in academic subjects.
  • SAT:  a 1050 total based on test taken March 2016 or later.  If the 1050 is earned, yet the student falls short of a 26 in critical reading or 520 Math, then the student must take the placement test.
  • ACT: composite of 20, with at least a 20 in both Math and English or the student needs to take the placement test.

redweather
redweather

@Joe in Co @redweather Those are normal standards, so that certainly doesn't account for the high failure rate. All I can say is that in my experience the success rate for MOWR students is significantly higher than it is for entering freshmen. Perhaps it has something to do with the quality of the high schools they are attending.

Dogwood32
Dogwood32

I see no mention of the issue of credits not transferring all the time. There is not always a true understanding of which courses a student should take which will not only transfer but will also count toward the degree they want to pursue. Also, if this happens and the student used the PELL grant, they have used part of their maximum lifetime benefit for courses that don't even transfer. Like all programs, it's not for everybody and parents need to research it thoroughly before making a decision.

redweather
redweather

@Dogwood32 The classes are paid for in full here in Georgia so the Pell grant doesn't become an issue.  In fact, I have never heard of a high school student getting Pell.  As for transfer of credits, that should be covered in an orientation session. I tell parents and students straight up that many if not most private colleges will not accept the credits. I also tell them that if they have their heart set on attending a particular school, they need to find out how their credits will be treated.

Dogwood32
Dogwood32

@redweather @Dogwood32 I'm glad that you do!  I wish everyone did!  Like I said, it's a good option for some students but just like any other route, one size does not fit all.  Unfortunately, not everyone is as transparent as you are.

Dogwood32
Dogwood32

@redweather Also, maybe you can clear this up for me.  You said dual enrollment is free in Georgia.  It may be free for parents but the funds come from HOPE.  Is there a lifetime limit on HOPE?  How could that effect the student later when they are in a university if their credits do not transfer?  I could not find any information on that.

gapeach101
gapeach101

@Dogwood32 @redweather

There is a lifetime limit on HOPE.  I would be surprised at any class you  took using HOPE would not be accepted at a University where you can use HOPE (in both cases you are attending a State School).

It used to be dual enrollment ate up HOPE hours.   My understanding is MOWR does not.  What I am unsure of, if you are only taking one  or two classes at a college, if you fall under MOWR or dual enrollment.



redweather
redweather

@Dogwood32 @redweather Move on When Ready course hours do not count against any maximum hourly caps for HOPE scholarships or grants.  

GwinnettWife
GwinnettWife

Gwinnett schools introduce MOWR at parent meetings every Jan/Feb. However, if your one of those who doesn't attend, then you do not know. There are many steps clearly identified, including taking the ACT/SAT 6 months before college deadlines...Howver, this is FREE; tuition, books, parking, and activities. Meals are not included. We have not paid anything except gas to get to class. Our 11th grader is taking three classes at GGC and LOVES it!! He enjoys being in a mature environment where people show up to class because they want to learn. We helped him pick his schedule based on things like traffic patterns and playing high school sports. He still takes three classes at the high school, one being weight training...with his AP credits he'll have 15 credit hours by December. Next year he wants to take all his classes there. As an upper income family with four kids, we couldn't afford to pass up this opportunity.

MichaelHannigan
MichaelHannigan

maureen...

You left off the rest of the organizations name: ".Org"

momtwo2
momtwo2

My child is doing this as a Senior. Instead of attending any classes at her local high school, she is taking 4 classes at GA State in Alpharetta, while getting her Econ , English , and Math requirement.  She is not a child that will take lots of AP classes (due to an LD), so this is perfect and gives her an idea how college might be, plus she doesnt take wasted classes at the high school.

Now my son, when he is a Senior,  might hybrid it.   Anotherwords, take some classes at the high school and maybe one or two at College.


I will say that the process was not that easy as first timers, and we are lucky that we have a dedicated counselor at our high school to this.  Also at the college there is a person assigned to the MOWR kids, who was very helpful.  


Word of advice, have your child take ACT or SAT as soon as possible if you are considering this.  For some of these colleges the scores dont need to be great, so having them ready is a big help. 


This is a perfect fit for some, but not for all.   The advantages is that it allows students to sometimes meet Freshman college requirements, it gives them a taste of how college works, and allows them to try classes they may not otherwise have a chance to.  Also the flexible schedule can allow for a Senior to also work a job at times others are not available to. 

The disadvantage is that depending on where the classes are and what the rigor is, some colleges might not think as highly as AP (such as UGA). 

CautiouslyOptimistic
CautiouslyOptimistic

For the right kids, this is a great option.  I actually wish this was an option for my child, but her high school has an alternating block schedule which makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to make MOWR work.

gapeach101
gapeach101

@CautiouslyOptimistic

Our school was also on alternating blocks.  My kids took classes at the HS either first block of the day or last block of the day.  Truth be told, they only needed 1 English class to graduate by their senior year, so they took 3 classes at Ga State, and their english class at the HS.  I did have to explain to the HS counselor that they were not going to take 5 HS classes with their 3 college classes.  

CautiouslyOptimistic
CautiouslyOptimistic

@gapeach101  Sorry to be obtuse, but can you explain further?  My daughter's first class of the day is different depending on the day and week.  This week she has AP Psych first thing MWF and next week it will be T/Th.  The days she does not have AP Psych first thing she has French3.  So even if she took a Tu/Th MOWR class, she would miss different classes each week.  Her school discourages MWOR because of this.  

redweather
redweather

@gapeach101 @CautiouslyOptimistic Some counselors are very uninformed. Either that, or they have been counseled to make MOWR sound unworkable. I believe high school students are required to take 6 classes.  If a student is taking 3 college classes, he/she only has to take three high school classes.

redweather
redweather

@CautiouslyOptimistic @gapeach101 I wonder if this method of scheduling is widespread. It seems designed to prevent MOWR. I should add that high schools are not required by law to participate, so maybe this high has decided it will not participate.

gapeach101
gapeach101

@CautiouslyOptimistic @gapeach101

My kids would take English first period of the day, then head for Ga. State for what ever classes they were taking down there.  One of them headed back to school on chorus days, which met the last period of the day.  They spent a lot of time at home alone.  That was their reward for their previous excellent work in HS.

I will say it took a lot of coordination the first year.  My kids were limited to what sections of classes they could take at Ga State because they couldn't be there at 8:00.  The teachers at the HS were willing to let them leave class 15 minutes early if needed.

Bill Teacher
Bill Teacher

Why not just graduate everyone at 15 and send them off to college? High school is for high school, and college is for college.  This is all about ambitious parents trying to push their hyper competitiveness on their kids.  If high school educations were decent, the kids would be ready for college without all this nonsense. 

Proud_Teacher
Proud_Teacher

At my high school in DeKalb, MOWR has basically been shoved down our juniors' throats.  Per the county, ALL juniors, whether they were interested or not, were required to take the entrance exam...for a cohort that was only going to consist of about twenty students.  Some students were told they needed to take the exam again if their scores were't high enough.


I agree that MOWR is a great program for some students but not for  our most brilliant students who aspire to attend Ivy League schools or other extremely competitive universities.  Yet these were the students who being pressured into enrolling in this program.  I ask you, how will an English credit from DeKalb Tech help a student who wants to go to MIT or Carnegie Mellon?  

redweather
redweather

@Proud_Teacher This is the first I've ever heard of an "entrance exam" administered at the high school.  Can you explain more fully?

Alchemist0207
Alchemist0207

@Proud_Teacher Stay away from the technical colleges If you want your child to be really prepared. For MIT or Carnegie Mellon, Georgia State is the better option.

gapeach101
gapeach101

@Proud_Teacher

Dekalb Tech is not the only school.  All my children did their senior year at Ga. State,  and indeed one ended up at an Ivy League school.

PJ25
PJ25

Is this the same thing as Dual Enrollment?  It sounds like it.  Dual Enrollment is huge at our high school and you'd have to be crazy not to do it if you were going to college after HS. 

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

Who is the system-wide MOWR coordinator?  Things like this (basic information) should be put out centrally.  Surely there is someone in a politically prominent family who needs a job?!

redweather
redweather

@Wascatlady At this point in time that would be GAfutures.org, I guess. Not sure who is on the payroll.

newsphile
newsphile

@Wascatlady Fortunately, in our school system the student advisors include this among the list of options for high school students. 

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

Sorry to be unclear.  I meant state-wide.

Another comment
Another comment

Some Schools push this and others don't. For example a few years ago Riverwood was really pushing this, because the school was at over capacity. So they had many seniors doing dual enrollment at GA perimeter in Dunwoody in the Honors program.

While over at Campbell in Cobb literally the next high school, just across the River in Cobb County ( Both County IB Magnet program schools). They were letting seniors doing 1/2 day senior years or take meaningless fun classes. Luckily, my child was still barely 17 at the beginning of senior year and I said absolutely not. She would take dual enrollment. She was the first and only student at Campell in 2012/2013 to be in Dual enrollment. She earned 15 full college credits.

I had to fight to have them allow my child to take the Dual enrollment classes. I latter found out why they would rather not. The college gets the majority of the State funding. Just for example my daughter took 15 credit hours at GPC and 1/2 credit of PE at high school. She participated on a fall Varsity Sport team and a Spring Varsity Sport team. Just for simplisty lets assume the state funding in the year for her was $5,500. GPC told me they received $5,000 and the high school faught me so hard because they only got to keep $500 for her. That is why some states push thing like coming in a period late or leaving a period late. All within the funding triggers. Instead of dual enrollment that benefit the student.

Once my child had a partial semester in she was greatful. She has really appreciated her mother pushed for this with how this 15 college credit prepared her. Actual college level work, even at GPC is much different than AP taught in a coddled high school environment.

redweather
redweather

@Another comment Not sure about the information you've received regarding funding. However, I have heard that many high schools prefer to have as many students as possible in AP classes because it makes them (the high schools) look better on some statewide rating. Not sure if this is so.