Is IOAPA Right for Me?

With IOAPA registration opening this week, we wanted to offer some final considerations for students and mentors considering IOAPA courses. The sections below are broken down into considerations for students and considerations for mentors.

Considerations for Students

  • Time: IOAPA courses require more time than typical grade-level courses, because the content is more advanced and students may need time to adjust to the online nature of the course. When considering enrolling in an IOAPA course, students should consider the other demands on their time, including other courses, extracurricular activities, sports, jobs, and anything else they might be involved in. It would be reasonable to expect to spend 5-10 hours per week on an IOAPA course. Will that be possible in your schedule?
  • Independence/Self-Motivation: IOAPA students must be capable of working independently and motivating themselves. Our classes are different from those typically offered in middle and high school, because instead of receiving whole-class instruction, IOAPA students independently access their course materials whenever they choose. This flexibility can be great for many students, but it requires self-motivation to avoid procrastination. If you’re not sure whether you have sufficient skills in these areas, talk to your IOAPA mentor about what they might look like.
  • Eligibility – High School: High school IOAPA students must be able to handle the academic rigor of college-level courses. Each course in our Course Catalog offers suggested prerequisites and/or pre-tests, and these may be used to determine eligibility for individual students.
  • Eligibility – Middle School: IOAPA has more specific eligibility guidelines for middle school students. Students must participate in an above-level test (I-Excel for 6th graders, ACT for 7th and 8th graders) and obtain a score at or above the 50th percentile. Additionally, it is very important that the student performs well on grade-level standardized assessments (such as the Iowa Assessments), with scores at or above the 95th percentile in the course content area. Other considerations for eligibility include prior exposure to relevant coursework to provide sufficient background knowledge and skills, and scores well above average on any other standardized tests students may have taken, such as the CogAT or an IQ test.

Considerations for mentors.jpeg

  • Time/Scheduling: As an IOAPA mentor, you will need dedicated time to meet with students, answer their questions, proctor exams, and support them in overcoming any challenges they face. Previous mentors have suggested that routine, face-to-face meetings with students are extremely beneficial. Do you have time in your week to provide that support to students?
  • Student Relationships: Research on mentoring suggests that the relationship between the student and mentor is a key to success. Do you have existing positive relationships with the prospective IOAPA students? If not, do you think you will be able to develop positive relationships early in the year?
  • Content Knowledge: In most cases, mentors are not responsible for teaching course material or answering questions about course content. However, some understanding of basic content will be beneficial in answering students’ questions or providing them with resources. In our computer science courses, content knowledge is especially beneficial, and it is required for our AP Computer Science Principles course, which does require the mentor to provide instruction.
  • School Eligibility: This consideration is for both mentors and site coordinators. IOAPA requires that IOAPA courses are scheduled into the students’ regular school day, and that schools provide a designated time and space within the school building for students to work on their course(s). In addition, the school must provide lab space and equipment for science courses (if applicable), and the necessary technology and textbooks for all courses. The school must be an accredited school in the state of Iowa, the course must not be offered through the school district (or at the student’s grade level, in the case of middle school courses), and the school must not enroll more than 6 students per course. For more information relevant to site coordinators and mentors, please see our Site Coordinator and Mentor Handbook.

Still not sure if IOAPA is right for you? Click around our website to get more information about the courses we offer, the supports we provide, and the requirements for enrolling. If you have additional questions, contact us at ioapa@belinblank.org.

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