The Academy for Health and Medical Sciences is a rigorous and selective four-year, full-time small learning community of motivated and talented students working concurrently toward their high school diploma and their Associate Degree in General Science. It is a partnership between Somerset County Vocational and Technical High School and Raritan Valley Community College.
The goals of the Academy are to implement challenging cross-curricular educational experiences that promote critical thinking skills, foster opportunities for leadership and show the connection among disciplines, and to provide authentic clinical experiences through professional and community partnerships, exposing students to related career opportunities. Graduates of the Academy have gone on to continue their education at many prestigious four-year institutions (see list below).
Students in both Somerset and Hunterdon County are eligible to apply to the Academy during the spring of their 8th grade year and must satisfy selective admissions criteria for acceptance. They must also meet rigorous academic standards for continued enrollment. Once accepted, Academy students earn college credit during the course of the regular high school day. During their junior and senior years, students enroll in college courses at Raritan Valley Community College.
Graduates of the program have continued their education at such prestigious schools as Vanderbilt University, Johns Hopkins University, Drexel University, Brown University, Cornell University, Dartmouth University, Princeton University, George Washington University, New York University, Lehigh University, Temple University, UC-Berkeley, University of Pennsylvania and University of Virginia.
"The Academy is a place that helps nurture a student who is passionate about what they want to do in their lives.” – Meina K., Class of 2011
Applications to the Academy are available at Somerset County Vocational and Technical High School's website.
Will the Academy for Health and Medical Sciences be a good fit for my son or daughter?
This program, for students in grades 9-12, is a partnership between Somerset County Vocational and Technical High School and Raritan Valley Community College. Students from Somerset and Hunterdon counties will experience a rigorous and comprehensive program committed to ensuring high standards and challenging opportunities through the integration of college level academics and enrichment activities. All students must satisfy selective admissions criteria for acceptance into the Academy program. This program requires maturity, good time management skills, and excellent study skills. Most students also express an interest in careers in health and medicine such as Physician/M.D, Medical Research, Pharmacy, Biomedical Engineering, Animal Science, Nursing, etc.
What are the benefits of this early college program?
The Academy provides high school students with the opportunity to earn an Associate Degree in General Science. In addition, this program is an excellent preparation for admission to four-year college programs, building self-confidence in a small learning community.
Are high school students too young to do college level work?
Over the last decade, opportunities have expanded for high school students to earn college credit. Students in dual enrollment programs remain formally enrolled in high school but take college courses, taught by either high school or college faculty, in classrooms located either at their high school or on a college campus. More and more community colleges are developing ways to accelerate high school students by enrolling them in college courses. Students from a wide range of backgrounds and with diverse prior accomplishments are demonstrating that the academic challenge provided by college-level courses can be an inspiration, not a barrier. High schools with career academies, such as this one, are among the highest performing schools in the nation, according to research.
How does the Academy program work?
Students earn college credit during the course of the regular high school day. Credit and grades earned through this collaborative program will appear on an official transcript from Raritan Valley Community College. During the junior and senior years, students enroll in college courses at Raritan Valley Community College. The four-year program of study is posted here.
How are standards of satisfactory progress defined for an Academy student in “good standing"?
Academy courses are offered in a predetermined four-year curriculum sequence based upon NJDOE requirements for a high school diploma in conjunction with RVCC requirements for an Associate Degree in General Science. Since this is a rigorous and accelerated program, students must meet certain criteria for continued enrollment in the Academy. In order to progress through the program, a 3.0 minimum cumulative GPA is required. In addition, a grade of D, F, or W in any course will make a student ineligible to continue in the program. An identified appeals process is in place for juniors and seniors who do not meet the above referenced standards. NOTE: In fall of the sophomore year, students must take the RVCC placement test in reading, writing, and mathematics and score at the appropriate levels indicated for college level English and Precalculus. Students who do not satisfactorily place will be offered enrichment opportunities prior to taking the test for a second time in the spring. If a student is unable to place into the college-level courses at the spring retest, he/she will not be permitted to continue in the Academy beyond the sophomore year.
Will competitive colleges and universities across the country accept the transfer of RVCC college credits earned as part of the Academy for Health and Medical Sciences?
In general, RVCC credits earned in the transfer designed AA and AS degree programs transfer very well to highly competitive colleges and universities. Decisions about transfer credit acceptance are the prerogative of the receiving college. Thus, it is always best to research the transfer credit policies of the colleges and universities of interest. Most colleges display these policies on the prospective student portion of their website and many also have a transfer student office or designated representatives on the admissions staff. Parents and students should be aware that some colleges restrict the transfer of dual enrollment credits – that is, college credits earned while enrolled in high school.
Should I be concerned if a college of interest places restrictions on the transfer of dual enrollment credits?
It is important to keep in mind that this Academy and other career academies established across the country provide extraordinary opportunities for bright and motivated students to accelerate their education. The vast majority of colleges do accept in transfer dual enrollment credits earned at community colleges. Even if Academy students were to be denied certain transfer credits, the rigorous and accelerated program provided by the Academy should enhance their chances of success in the challenging science and medical programs they pursue.
How many credits will be transferable to New Jersey’s 4-year state colleges and universities?
On September 13, 2007, then Governor Corzine signed into law legislation P.L. 2007, Chapter 175 establishing a statewide transfer agreement that provides for the seamless transfer of academic credits from a completed associate of arts or associate of science degree program to a baccalaureate degree program. The law guarantees that the transfer-designed associate degrees (AA and AS) earned at any of the state’s 19 community colleges “shall be fully transferable and credited as the first two years of a baccalaureate degree program at the four-year public institution of higher education in the State to which a student is admitted.” While the law does not cover the private colleges and universities in New Jersey, many of those institutions have established transfer policies that provide for the transfer with full junior standing for AA and AS degree holders from NJ community colleges. The law does not provide any guarantees of admission and students must select an appropriate associate degree for their particular major. Students must also fulfill any prerequisite courses required for admission.
Will the transcripts and diploma be issued under the Somerset County Vocational & Technical High School logo or will the Academy have a separate identity?
The Academy for Health and Medical Sciences follows a “school within a school” model. Although the high school diploma and transcripts are issued by Somerset County Vocational-Technical Schools, the Academy has a separate CEEB code and School Profile.
How does the Academy program compare with College Board Advanced Placement (AP) courses?
AP credit is awarded based on a student’s performance on an exam given at the end of the course. RVCC credit will be granted to Academy students as a grade on a transcript reflecting performance throughout an entire college course. Academy students can earn an Associate Degree while still in high school, not just a few college credits. In addition, the Academy experience blends the curriculum of high school work and college level work into a single academic program that meets requirements for both a high school diploma and an Associate Degree.
What can be done to accommodate the varying levels of math abilities so that instruction is sufficiently challenging for gifted students?
The math curriculum is based on the graduation requirements for a high school diploma as determined by the New Jersey Department of Education and the requirements for an Associate Degree as determined by the RVCC Board of Trustees. Because of the cohort nature of the Academy program, students must follow the math curriculum predetermined by RVCC and SCVTHS. Extracurricular math programs, competitions, “Math League” and other independent study programs will be offered to students seeking advanced studies. During the junior and senior years, there will be opportunities for qualified students, who are invited by their professor, to take supplemental “Honors” courses. (Note: Students will need approval from the Academy prior to registration, and they will be responsible for applicable course fees.)
What clubs are offered to Academy students?
Literary Club, Fiber Arts, Math League, Environthon, Bio League, and SkillsUSA (a student leadership organization) are among the clubs available to students. In addition, students can participate in any extracurricular activity or sport offered in our district or in the home district. Juniors and seniors may choose to participate in clubs and organizations offered on campus at RVCC. Eligible students (during 11th and 12th grade) may also participate in Phi Theta Kappa, RVCC’s academic honor society and the National Honor Society at the high school.
What kind of academic support services are provided to Academy students?
Academy students have at their disposal the full range of student services available to RVCC students including tutoring, Career and Transfer Services, and access to both the library and athletic center, as well as services for Academy students only: special orientations, customized Student Success Workshops and personalized, proactive academic advising tailored to their cohort on an ongoing basis.
Are there opportunities to develop public speaking and presentation skills?
All students are given the opportunity to engage in public speaking activities when giving in-class presentations. In addition, the Academy students are encouraged to participate in various SkillsUSA competitions such as Prepared Speech, Extemporaneous Speaking, and various events that involve presentations and demonstrations.
How does my child get to the Academy?
Transportation is provided by the sending district and arranged in conjunction with the Pupil Services office.
What are the costs to the parent?
For the Class of 2017, parents incur the following tuition costs* per year:
$200 for Grade 9
$600 for Grade 10
$900 for Grade 11
$1100 for Grade 12
Beginning in junior year, students and their parents are responsible for purchasing all textbooks and supplemental materials for any RVCC course.*Tuition costs for subsequent incoming classes will be reviewed annually.
How do parents get information about their student’s academic performance?
Since students are enrolled in college courses they are covered under the Federal Law known as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Parents and students should have open lines of communication about academic performance. It is up to the student, as they advance through the Academy program, to take initiative and to discuss their grades and academic progress with their professors. From time to time professors update the RVCC advisor, and if students are not progressing satisfactorily, the advisor may contact the student for a meeting to discuss an action plan to address this. While students are enrolled in RVCC courses, information about an Academy student’s progress must be obtained from the SCVTHS Pupil Services Department and Academy supervisors.
How are parent-teacher meetings scheduled?
The Academy Faculty is available by appointment; parent initiated conferences are arranged via the guidance department.
Is there an opportunity for parental involvement in the Academy?
Currently there is a Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) for our high school that invites all parents to participate in activities aimed at generating resources for student programs that are not normally funded by the Board of Education.