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For more than a decade now, Kamehameha Schools Maui and the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College have partnered to offer early college, dual-credit courses to KS Maui students.

Last fall, the University of Hawaiʻi and Kamehameha Schools formalized a new partnership, known as Hui Hoʻopili ʻĀina, aimed at improving Native Hawaiian student success while creating a sustainable Hawaiʻi. But the two educational institutions have been collaborating for years on many fronts, including the early college program at KS Maui.

“We wanted to start this culture early-on, of creating a college mindset,” said Jay-R Kaʻawa, KS Maui academies principal.

“It’s really paid off for our families financially by having our students get a head start on a college career while they are in high school.”

Kamehameha Schools Maui senior Richard Renaud

Through the partnership, UH Maui College instructors teach college-level classes on the KS Maui campus, allowing students to earn both high school and college credits.

From 2005 till 2016, more than 500 KS Maui students have taken these courses, earning more than 3,370 college credits in a wide range of subjects from math and science to history and English. Students get to experience courses like English 100, Calculus 205 and 206, Statistics 115, Psychology 100 and Sociology 100.

“I think it’s really crucial and you get that big step in college and it just gives you that boost,” said KS Maui senior Richard Renaud.

“It’s good to know what college classes are like so you can prepare for it. I got to mentally prepare for college and these dual credits are definitely going to help.”

Setting students up for success

National research reinforces that high school students who take early college classes are more successful when they transition to college. Early college also lowers the cost of higher education.

“They’re more likely to enroll in a college, they’re more likely to be successful in college, they are more likely to persist and they are more likely to complete a degree,” said UH Maui College Chancellor Lui Hokoana.

Through surveys KS Maui has conducted with alumni who have gone through the early college program, that thinking has been validated. Alumni have indicated how they are better prepared for the college transition and are acclimated to the rigor of a college course, even though they were still in high school.

KS and UH are now expanding the early college program to KS Kapālama and Hawaiʻi campus students. At KS Maui, the campus is also looking to offer more courses to students in the next five years with the goal of having half of the seniors earn at least six college credits before graduation.

The success of the KS Maui partnership has also allowed UH Maui College to expand the dual enrollment program throughout Maui County.

“It doesn’t matter whether students come to us or not, but we want to make sure to provide higher education opportunities to our entire community,” said Hokoana.

Through Hui Hoʻopili ʻĀina, UH and Kamehameha Schools are committed to community engagement and partnerships that will result in increased access and success for Native Hawaiian post-secondary students.

Kamehameha Schools Maui classroom
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