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New agreement connects three Herkimer BOCES programs to Herkimer College degrees

Central Valley Thunder enrolled in one three programs can now earn College Now credits. Learn more from this story from Herkimer BOCES.

When Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES Information Technology Academy junior Anthony Treonze completes the ITA program, he will already have 29 credits finished for a computer network technician associate degree at Herkimer College.

That’s thanks to a new partnership between Herkimer BOCES and Herkimer College that allows graduates of three Herkimer BOCES programs to enter Herkimer College with close to a year’s worth of a related associate degree already done.

Students have the choice to earn College Now credits, which can be applied to their degree at Herkimer College or transferred to another college. Or they can complete a two-year degree at Herkimer College using articulated credits and then go on to a four-year college – which is what Treonze plans to do.

“I think it’s really cool,” he said. “You get a year of college right out of high school – for free too. That’s really big.”

The partnership follows the model of a guided pathways articulation agreement and went into effect starting this school year. Current Herkimer BOCES seniors in the three programs are able to pick up some credits, and this year’s juniors are the first to feel the full effect of the agreement.

In addition to the Information Technology Academy graduates earning up to 29 credits toward a computer network technician associate degree, Herkimer BOCES visual communications media arts graduates earn up to 28 credits toward a general studies associate degree, and Herkimer BOCES criminal justice graduates earn up to 22 credits toward a criminal justice associate degree.

Students are awarded the Herkimer College articulated credits if they complete the BOCES program and earn an 80 percent or higher grade, receive a recommendation for credit from Herkimer BOCES and enroll in the related degree program at Herkimer College.

The agreement provides flexibility for students and their families by also allowing the option of attempting any of the credits through Herkimer College’s College Now Program at the regular College Now rate, which is $55 per credit hour as of the fall 2017 courses.

Students have to decide prior to taking the credits whether they are enrolling for College Now. Courses taken through College Now are credits earned at Herkimer College and will appear on an official college transcript and may be accepted by other colleges based on the specific transfer credit policy for a student’s college of choice.

A ‘powerful’ partnership

Herkimer College Provost Michael Oriolo said this agreement adds to an already strong partnership between the college and Herkimer BOCES.

“It’s a win-win,” Oriolo said. “It helps us with our enrollment and graduation rates in those programs. The benefit for the students is that instead of just accumulating credits, they are earning credits that fit into a distinct program on campus. They’re taking specific courses toward a degree, and they’re being prepared for courses in that discipline.”

Oriolo said college officials appreciate that both the college and Herkimer BOCES aim to support students in the community and offer them opportunities.

“It’s just a powerful way to do that with this partnership,” he said.

The agreement is the result of much planning and hard work by both entities, Herkimer BOCES Assistant Superintendent for Administration James Picolla said.

“This cutting-edge partnership helps create a better, brighter future for the education of students in the region,” Picolla said. “We hope we can build on this model and offer other program agreements in the future.”

‘A year of college’

Herkimer BOCES Information Technology Academy instructor James Hunt said he likes that the articulation agreement is in place for his students.

“That basically is a year of college done, and with the articulation agreement credit option, it’s free,” Hunt said. “It’s a fantastic opportunity for them.”

The agreement benefits students because they have two years at Herkimer BOCES to get a feel for what a college class is like, Hunt said.

“I try my best to run my course the same way a college course runs,” he said.

At the same time, Herkimer BOCES career and technical education students also are earning a high-school degree and being prepared for entry level jobs in their career field, Hunt said.

ITA student Treonze, of Mount Markham, said his ultimate goal is to work in cybersecurity or software development and make a difference – whether that be a breakthrough in his industry or an impact on the world in general.

He appreciates the opportunity to earn the credits while in high school and the chance to experience a college-level class, he said.

“Not every person can say they have a year of college right out of high school,” he said.

‘Going to help me’

Jennifer LaGrange and Carmela Cancelmo, both of Little Falls, are juniors in Herkimer BOCES visual communications media arts program instructed by Melinda Maycock. They are planning to take advantage of the option to enroll in College Now credits.

“I think it’s great,” LaGrange said. “College is a lot of money, so I think it’s great. It’s really going to help me out a lot.” Cancelmo agreed.

“I think it’s great to get a head start on college while in high school,” she said.

Herkimer BOCES criminal justice instructor Shane Dietz said there is a lot of good that comes from the agreement, and it’s up to the students to take advantage of it.

The articulation agreement covers about a year of college, and there are some jobs in criminal justice that just require a two-year degree, Dietz said.

“It’s a great opportunity for them,” he said.

Criminal justice student, Avauna Phillips, of Central Valley, said she is considering the College Now option, and she wants to become a psychologist.

“I would say it’s a good opportunity because by taking these classes, we can have some idea what to expect at a college level,” Phillips said.

Criminal justice student Sarah Neff, of Central Valley, said she is still considering whether she will attend Herkimer College, and she wants to work in a police canine unit. She said she is happy to know she can use the articulation credits if she does attend Herkimer College.

“I just really love the idea of it,” she said.

Learning about criminal justice starting in a Herkimer BOCES career and technical education program is beneficial – such as hearing stories from Dietz about what it’s like to work in the career field, Neff said.

“It just gets you prepared,” she said.

‘College ready’

It’s a leg up for students and an economic benefit for families that students can leave high school with 22 to 29 college credits through the agreement, Herkimer College Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Dr. Robin Voetterl-Riecker said.

“Beyond that, it really does help students get college ready,” she said. “The expectations embedded in the courses are college-level reading, writing, discussions – it’s the academic rigor we expect here at the college.”

There is a big transition between high school and college as far as academic expectations, emotional demands and personal responsibility, Voetterl-Riecker said.

“Whether students realize it or not, they’re developing and growing academically and personally,” she said.

Herkimer BOCES students in the programs are not only set up to be significantly ahead of the curve at Herkimer College, but then they have the ability to go on to a four-year college, she said.

‘Creating opportunities’

Herkimer BOCES School To Careers Director Dr. Christopher Groves said BOCES and the college having a lasting partnership, and it was great to see them come together for this plan.

“The focus was to create outside-of-the-box opportunities within our individual confines and to push the boundaries again to come away with a product that further improves the relationship between the educational institutions,” he said. “It’s good for the region.”

The agreement helps position and prepare students for success, Groves said.

“This is about creating opportunities for students that otherwise they may not have had – bridging students from the high-school experience to the college experience,” he said. “The bottom line is: This is good for students.”

Herkimer BOCES Career and Technical Education Principal Kathy Fox said earlier career planning taking into account the option of tying BOCES programs to college can help the agreement be even more effective going forward.

“This is a new partnership, and students can go up there – and with proper planning – get a degree in one year,” she said.

Herkimer BOCES programs were identified that are in career fields that typically need college, so the agreement could lead to better employment chances, Fox said.

“The more opportunities we can expose students to when they’re in high school, the better off they’re going to be,” she said. “They’re going to see more avenues to better careers.”