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UT launches new program for high school students

The University of Texas at Austin is launching a new program to help high school students across the state be more prepared for college. (CBS Austin)

The University of Texas at Austin is launching a new program to help high school students across the state be more prepared for college.

The TEXAS MicroMajor program is intended to bridge the gap between traditional high school classes and expectations students face when they get to colleges and universities. The pilot program is launching in Austin in partnership with Austin Independent School District.

"These students look at ease on the University of Texas campus, but for many their college careers didn't start that way.

"It was a different ball game when I got here," recalls UT student Raul Pineda. Pineda took college courses when he was still in high school, but it didn't compare to actually being a college student

"Like how hard the classes were in a community college were very different than when I got to the university," Pineda says.

The new MicroMajor program consists of four high-quality courses-- some straight from the lecture halls at UT. Students will earn recognition from the university that they're prepared for studies in STEM, arts and humanities and other fields.

"Our faculty would recommend a package of courses that will help prepare students to be competitive," explains Harrison Keller, deputy to the president at UT-Austin.

"We want to provide even more opportunities for our students to earn college credit while they're in high school," says Austin ISD Superintendent Paul Cruz. Earning college credit in high school isn't new, but this new program would give students more direction.

"Instead of just thinking in terms of taking lots of credits, we want students to think about taking credits that really prepare them to do the next thing," Keller says.

Pineda graduates in spring 2017. Looking back, he remembers the learning curve he faced as a freshman, but looking ahead he sees how MicroMajors can impact Longhorns to come.

"If you have these different type of high school classes it will just give them a better direction of where to go when they get to the university," says Pineda.

Austin ISD students can begin applying to the MicroMajor program next spring. UT expects to expand the program across Texas for fall of 2018. To read more about the TEXAS MicroMajor program, click here.

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