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SOU kicks off accelerated Pledge Program

Editor's note: Fifty incoming freshmen will be accepted into the SOU Pledge Program. A previous online version of this story listed an incorrect number.

Southern Oregon University wants to corner the secondary education market in the Rogue Valley, and a new initiative known as the Jackson/Josephine Pledge Program is its latest weapon in that fight.

The program, announced via the school’s website Dec. 11, touts a tuition discount of up to 35 percent for eligible high school students from Jackson or Josephine county interested in an accelerated bachelor’s degree path. The participating SOU programs are business administration, computer science, criminology, criminal justice, elementary education (not including licensure), emerging media and digital arts, health, physical education and leadership.

Lisa Garcia-Hanson, SOU associate vice president for enrollment and retention, said minimum requirements for the new program include a 3.2 GPA, or a 3.0 GPA along with a 1,050 SAT score or 20 ACT score.

“We really want to make this accessible to the most number of students who think this is something they’re interested in,” Garcia-Hanson said.

The program’s not for everyone, she added.

“We are looking for students who know that they can be self-actualizing,” she said, “because obviously it is a three-year program so there’s got to be some motivation on their part.”

In other words, fitting four years' worth of credits into three is no cake walk, but Garcia-Hanson says candidates can cut into the workload by earning college credits while still in high school. Also, in an effort to help ease the burden, those who are accepted will have access to enhanced student support services, including individual advising, coaching and mentoring.

“It’s a challenging program for sure, for the three years, and there may be some possibilities that a student has to do a summer or two if they don’t bring in high school credits or something like that,” she said. “But it is absolutely possible to do it in three years and that’s why it’s limited to those certain programs, because we know those are doable programs.”

Fifty incoming freshmen will be accepted into the Pledge Program. The program is not available for transfers.

The university only recently began actively promoting the Pledge Program, but the response has been positive. To help get the word out, SOU has sent postcards to Jackson and Josephine county high school students who have expressed an interest in the university.

Students interested are encouraged to visit the program’s website at sou.edu/admissions/pledge.html. There, students can fill out an inquiry card. Those who do will be contacted by SOU representatives who can answer questions.

Garcia-Hanson couldn’t say exactly how many applicants SOU has processed so far, but the response has been encouraging.

“We already have more than half a dozen who have already expressed that they’re going to fill out applications and the paperwork is going out this week. And that’s very early for this target we have. We didn’t anticipate how much interest we would have to begin with.”

—Joe Zavala is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach him at 541-821-0829 or jzavala@dailytidings.com.