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

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 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.


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About the Author

Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.