UAF, Fairbanks school district launch middle college

Students in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District will soon have the opportunity to complete their high school careers with up to two years of college credit, tuition-free.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks and the school district have joined forces to create North Star College, a middle college program that will allow students to take UAF classes at the Fairbanks campus while still in high school. The school district will cover tuition and transportation, and students will earn both high school and college credit for their UAF classes. The first group of students will start classes in the fall of 2020.

UAF middle college
UAF photo by JR Ancheta A student reads in the Murie Building atrium on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus.

“This is the result of shared vision between the Fairbanks School District and UAF to expand academic opportunities for students and create a robust bridge between secondary and postsecondary education in our community,” said Superintendent Karen Gaborik. “I am thrilled that we’ve been able to jointly build a middle college model for Fairbanks.”

While UAF has, for many years, allowed high school students to take courses, North Star College fully integrates college courses into each student’s public high school curriculum. North Star College students will be able to take 7-15 credits each semester. Students’ course schedules during the 2020-2021 school year will include political science and economics. They will round out their schedules with courses chosen from UAF’s core content offerings. A dedicated space on campus will give North Star College students a place to check in, study or meet between classes.

“We are excited about this new partnership with the school district and are looking forward to welcoming our local high school students into Nanook Nation,” said UAF Chancellor Dan White. “We are ready to help them get a jump start on their college careers and hope they choose to continue on and complete their UAF degrees once they graduate from North Star College.”

For the 2020-2021 school year, North Star College will be open to seniors only and will accept 40 students. In order to be eligible, students will need to be on track to graduate on time, have a minimum GPA of 2.5 and have two references. Eligible students will be entered into a lottery and will be randomly selected for admission.

UAF and the school district plan to expand the program the following year and admit more students, as well as open it to both juniors and seniors.

The university will host an informational event for students and their parents on Thursday, Jan. 30, from 6-8 p.m. in rooms 301 and 305 of the Engineering Learning and Innovation Facility.