Dear Fellow Nebraskans:
As a new school year begins, I want to bring your attention to an exciting opportunity for Nebraska students to take online courses from the University of Nebraska High School.
University of Nebraska President James B. Milliken has recently announced that the university is continuing its Nebraska Virtual Scholars program, which provides full scholarships for students in our state to take online courses in important areas like math, science, foreign language and others.
The Virtual Scholars program is providing 100 scholarships this year to students so they can take courses for free, if awarded the scholarship. The scholarships may be used for any of the University of Nebraska High School's more than 100 high-quality, fully accredited courses. Schools must apply on behalf of their students and applications will be accepted until Sept. 13. Applications are available at http://highschoolnebraska.edu/NEScholars.
I encourage Nebraska schools to take advantage of this opportunity. Education is the great equalizer in our society, and every student deserves a quality education. The Nebraska Virtual Scholars program is an especially exciting opportunity for rural schools, because their limited resources don't always allow then to offer advanced-level courses or unique electives.
The Virtual Scholars program provides an opportunity for schools, the university and government leaders to learn more about the challenges facing rural schools and discuss how we can work together to solve some of those challenges through online education. Our goal is to establish a statewide Nebraska Virtual School that would make high-quality online courses available to all students in our state.
As chair of the P-16 Initiative, I know how important it is to increase the number of Nebraskans who graduate from high school, go on to college and earn a degree so they can help maintain a strong economy in our state. In just a few short years, two-thirds of all jobs in Nebraska will require education beyond high school. Yet right now only about one-third of Nebraskans age 25 and over have earned at least an associate's degree.
We need to ensure that many more Nebraskans obtain the skills they need to go to college, and that means providing them with an opportunity to take rigorous courses in high school. In fact, a recent College Board survey showed that 44 percent of the Class of 2010 said they wished they had taken more difficult courses in high school -- especially math, science and writing classes -- to prepare for college and work. A statewide Nebraska Virtual School would help us accomplish this goal for our young people.
Once again, I encourage Nebraska school leaders to take advantage of the opportunity for students to enroll in University of Nebraska High School. The Virtual Scholars program is an important step forward in helping our students become more successful and creating a stronger economy for Nebraska.
Governor of Nebraska