This fall up to 50 eleventh-grade students will be the first to participate in an intensive five-year high school called “Early College of Muskegon County” (ECMC). Rather than graduating during their senior year, ECMC students will add a 13th year and have the opportunity to earn up to 62 college credits while they finish their high school diploma. Officials from Muskegon Community College (MCC) and the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District (MAISD) plan to begin marketing the program this week following approval by the Michigan Department of Education.
“Students benefit by blending their work to complete a high school diploma and an associate’s degree,” said MCC Vice President for Academic Affairs Teresa Sturrus, adding that “other successful early or middle colleges are currently operating in Michigan.”
MCC’s Sturrus and MAISD Associate Superintendent of Academic Services Jeanette Magsig worked together with local educators to craft the program and iron out the details. ECMC is designed to serve students who are “at risk” of not enrolling in post-secondary education. It will be jointly operated by the two organizations.
Each year three to four eleventh grade students from each public school district, and four to five students from non-public schools, will be invited to attend the Early College of Muskegon County. An application and interview process will be used to select students for the program. The students’ test scores and letters of recommendation will also be considered as part of the application process. The program is funded through per pupil state funding.
“Early College of Muskegon County is a new and bold approach based on the principle that academic rigor, combined with the opportunity to save time and money, is a powerful motivator for students to work hard and meet serious intellectual challenges,” said MCC President Dr. Dale Nesbary.
According to MAISD Superintendent Dave Sipka, ECMC has been two-and-a-half years in the making. “This will positively impact the local economy. In addition to preparing more highly educated students to enter our workforce, we are opening doors for those teens whose families struggle financially. ECMC students will be the first in their families to attend college.”
For more information, contact Teresa Sturrus, MCC Vice President for Academic Affairs, at (231) 777-0251.