UC, Akron Schools partner to bridge IT skills gap

UC, Akron Public Schools and Stark State sign partnership to create Early IT program

Akron high school students eager to begin careers in information technology can now get a head start before they graduate high school, thanks to an agreement formalized Thursday between the University of Cincinnati, Stark State College and Akron Public Schools.

The partnership provides students at Akron’s Kenmore-Garfield High School with a unique opportunity to complete up to 43 hours of college credit while in high school. Students who complete their freshmen year of the information technology bachelor’s degree program while in high school will automatically be accepted to UC as sophomore IT majors and immediately be eligible for co-op placement.

The program, which is provided at no cost to high school students, not only saves students a year’s tuition money, but also makes it possible to graduate with little to no debt while gaining practical work experience. Entering sophomores can earn money to pay for classes via co-op, which makes college an affordable option for students from all socio-economic backgrounds, said Akron Public Schools Superintendent David James.

“This is a big win for our students both academically and financially,” said James. “Earning college credits and working a co-op to offset the cost of tuition gives our students a huge advantage to earn a degree while minimizing student loan debt.”

A man standing behind a podium waves a cell phone

Hazem Said, UC's director of the School of Information Technology, speaks during Thursday's announcement of the formation of the Early IT program at Akron Public Schools' Akron’s Kenmore-Garfield High School Photo courtesy Akron Public Schools

Akron Public Schools is the latest district to adopt UC’s Early IT program, which launched in 2017 and now boasts more than 2,000 students in 25 school districts, including three Greater Cincinnati private high schools. The innovative program breaks down the barriers between K-12 and higher education in an effort to accelerate the pipeline of IT talent across Ohio.

Participants in the Early IT program must take six IT-related high school classes, as well as three other College Credit Plus courses. All classes must be passed with a grade of C or above to qualify for automatic admission to UC.  

This is a big win for our students both academically and financially. Earning college credits and working a co-op to offset the cost of tuition gives our students a huge advantage to earn a degree while minimizing student loan debt.

David James, Akron Public Schools superintendent

Students can also choose to go on and complete their associate’s degree at Stark State and enroll in UC’s online IT program while being supported by Stark State.

“We are excited to bring this opportunity to students at our career academy sister school. We look forward to strengthening our partnership with the University of Cincinnati to support our students,” said Para Jones, president of Stark State.

UC’s Early IT program demonstrates each of the key platforms in Next Lives Here, the university’s strategic direction: academic excellence, urban impact and innovation agenda.

“In a talent and information economy, we must all come together to create innovative opportunities for our students,” says Hazem Said, professor and director of UC’s School of Information Technology. “The Early IT program seeks to significantly increase the quantity, quality and diversity of the state’s IT talent pool.”


Featured image at top: Representatives from UC, Akron Public Schools and Stark State College formalize the partnership forming the Early IT Program at Akron’s Kenmore-Garfield High School on Thursday, Feb. 20. Photo courtesy of Akron Public Schools

Next Lives Here

The University of Cincinnati is classified as a Research 1 institution by the Carnegie Commission, is ranked in the National Science Foundation's Top-35 public research universities and secured a spot on Reuter’s World’s Most Innovative Universities list. UC's students and faculty investigate problems and innovate solutions with real-world impact. Next Lives Here.

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