Over the past year, Ithaca High School developed and submitted an Early College Program to the State of Michigan for approval. The school recently received approval for the program’s launch in the fall of 2017.

This program, which might be described as a “school within a school,” allows enrolled students to earn their high school diplomas while also earning college credentialing through Mid Michigan Community College (MMCC). Program participants, if they choose, can complete their full associates degrees from MMCC before they graduate from high school.

In order to complete the curriculum requirements for both high school and the College’s associate degrees, Early College students attend five years of high school rather than the standard four.

“We created the Early College model so that we could encourage post-secondary success for all of our students,” noted Charmian Fletcher, Ithaca Public Schools Superintendent. “The program does a lot more than just introduce and prepare students for college—it really allows us to expand our opportunities for students and provide them with the necessary training and certification to find employment in high-demand careers in mid-Michigan.”

During the first couple of years, coursework takes place at Ithaca High School. As juniors, Early College students are typically enrolled in online coursework for MMCC. By their senior year, students in the Early College program take some or the majority of their coursework on the MMCC campus. During their fifth years, participants take nearly all of their courses at the College.

In order to remove as many barriers into the program as possible, the Ithaca School District assumes all tuition costs for enrollees.

“Ithaca’s Early College Program indicates how successfully high schools can incorporate college curriculum into their own programming,” notes Rick Smith, MMCC’s Associate Dean of Academic Outreach. “MMCC works very hard to ensure that college courses delivered in high school settings have the same content and rigor as any of our other college courses. With appropriate tutoring, mentoring, and transition services in place, the students in those courses receive extraordinary support to help them succeed.”

To learn more about Ithaca’s Early College Program, contact Ithaca High School Principal, Steve Netzley, at (989) 875-3373. To learn more about MMCC’s dual enrollment programming or its other off-campus and Early College efforts, contact Rick Smith at rjsmith2@midmich.edu or (989) 386-6622 extension 631.

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