CSU Dominguez Hills Partnership with California Academy of Math and Science Gives High Schoolers a Head Start on Bachelor’s Degree
California State University, Dominguez Hills and the California Academy of Math and Science (CAMS), which is located on the Dominguez Hills campus, have developed the CSUDH Science Opportunity Program, a unique partnership that will provide incoming 10th graders with an opportunity to earn up to 50 units of college credit toward their bachelor’s degree in the sciences.
“This is wonderful opportunity for our students,” says CAMS principal Dr. Janice Filer.
In addition to offering college-level science classes to CAMS students, the program will provide priority registration, advising, and scholarships to those students who choose to pursue their bachelor’s degree at CSU Dominguez Hills. Charles Hohm, dean of the College of Natural and Behavioral Sciences, leads the committee that is establishing this program, which already has 90 applicants for a college chemistry course to be taught this summer. He says that three selling points of the cohort for students are the caliber of Dominguez Hills’ faculty, the small class size with more individual attention, and the economic advantage of a shorter time to graduate and start working on their master’s or doctorate degrees.
“There is a lot of research opportunity [students] get once they’re here,” he says. “We have a great record of moving them into very prestigious, top-drawer graduate programs, and you could get out of here in two-and-a-half years with very little debt.”
Hohm, a sociologist, says that the program addresses the lack of minority students in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines.
“There is a lack of enough Americans going into those [fields] to begin with,” he says, “and there is a tremendous need to have more minorities in them. Our faculty is very competitive with other universities when it comes to getting grants and a lot of the grants are for getting our students into doctorate programs, so that they do not have to work so much outside of school but can spend more time in the labs with these difficult majors and be successful.”
CAMS students already can earn up to 22 units of college credit by taking courses at CSUDH while still in high school. Filer said that most four-year colleges accept the transfer credits, which means many CAMS graduates can start their college career in sophomore status. This program is unique, Hohm says, in that it focuses on science courses, which usually are not offered to students due to the class and lab time commitments. The program committee, made up of faculty from both campuses and CAMS counselors, have been working on ways to change that, from offering the summer science courses to developing flexible school year schedules that will allow students in the cohort to take more science and participate in college-level research.
Although the CSUDH Science Opportunity Program currently focuses on the sciences, Hohm hopes that it will include other disciplines in the future.
Filer says that there has been a lot of collaboration between the high school and university over the 19 years of CAMS existence. CAMS students have use of CSU Dominguez Hills’ athletic fields, dining area and other facilities, while faculty from both institutions cross the fence regularly to teach at both institutions. Filer is an adjunct faculty member in the university’s School of Education, and Jim Hill, chair of the physics department at Dominguez Hills, volunteers many hours working with the CAMS afterschool robotics club. Teacher education students at Dominguez Hills observe CAMS classrooms while working toward their credentials and CAMS students have the use of the University Theatre and its staff for their campus’s theatrical productions.
Filer underscores the unique opportunity to students at CAMS, a Long Beach Unified School District school, which has consistently been featured on lists of the best high schools in many publications, including U.S. News and World Report and Los Angeles Magazine. The current enrollment is only 600 students, compared to an average of 4,000 students per high school throughout the district, which gives CAMS students the personal attention from their own faculty and staff – and opportunities to accelerate their path to college at the only four-year university in the South Bay.
“To have a 600-student population on a university campus, with access to that campus’s facilities and courses is quite a privilege,” notes Filer.
The first class of the CSUDH Science Opportunity Program will begin on Monday, June 14 and meet for six weeks of lecture and lab time Monday through Thursday, ending on Thursday, July 23
For more information on the CSU Dominguez Hills-CAMS partnership, contact Dean Hohm at (310) 243-2547. To learn more about the College of Natural and Behavioral Sciences, click here.
- Joanie Harmon