High school seniors count down the days till they graduate. But for students in Oregon, that countdown may be extended another 365 days. Several high schools throughout the state are implementing an optional fifth year for their students, which will allow them to extend their education without leaving home. The way it works is somewhat simple. The high school partners with a local community college, which offers its classes in the high school. When the year ends, students receive their high school diploma and are able to enter college as sophomores. Administrators believe that by offering a college curriculum in a familiar environment, students are more likely to stick out the full four years — something only 60 percent of Oregon college students currently do.
And unlike the first year of college, the 13th year of high school is free. The school continues to receive money from the state — about $6,500 per student — and uses it to pay for their community college courses and books. Not to mention the students can forgo a meal plan and hold off on buying dorm decor.
Of course, that $6,500 doesn't cover everything. Any additional money needed to support the 13th year comes directly from the high school budget, which many in Oregon believe is already severely underfunded. While this makes some hesitant to tack on an extra year, others believe the benefits far outweigh the cost. As Rebecca Schuman notes in her article, "Welcome to 13th Grade," a fifth year of high school is the ideal option for those who aren't emotionally prepared to take on college.
"I'd rather see them endure the 13th grade back in high school than continue acting like 13th graders where they are expected to be adults," she writes.
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