SMC’s Early College offers juniors, seniors a jump startPublished 8:00am Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Southwestern Michigan College Board of Trustees reviewed early college opportunities provided to area high school students, accepted $45,218 in gifts and grants, awarded service pinsand conducted other business Tuesday during its regularly scheduled meeting for April on the Dowagiac campus.
“The Early College program offers academically-prepared high school students three different ways to take higher level courses and earn college credit while they are still in high school,” said SMC President Dr. David Mathews.
“The program also expands the occupational training opportunities of students in local high schools.”
To be eligible to enroll, Early College students must meet SMC’s admission criteria and have the recommendation of their high school counselor.
During the past academic year, 331 high school students participated in SMC’s three Early College programs.
The first type of SMC’s Early College opportunity is called Dual Enrollment.
The Dual Enrollment program provides eligible high school students with the opportunity to take an almost endless range of college credit coursework on one of the two campuses of SMC while still enrolled in high school.
Transfer clusters of related courses have been developed to meet the need of local high schools to offer upper level mathematics, science and other course work to their students.
Class times and locations are arranged on both of SMC campuses to be convenient for area high school students.
High school students can enroll in clusters of two or three math, science or other general education courses.
New for the coming fall semester, SMC is beginning both a math/science cluster and an honors cluster at the college’s Dowagiac campus and an honors cluster at the Niles Area Campus.
The second type of SMC’s Early College opportunities is Occupational Academies.
These academies allow high school juniors and seniors to spend one half of their day on the campus of SMC, taking two to three workforce preparation courses each semester in agricultural science, automotive technology, business, coaching, computer aided design and drafting, design and graphic arts, education and human services, electronics, emergency medical services (EMT), health care, precision production technology or welding technology.
Occupational Academies began in the mid-1990s in collaboration with Lewis Cass Intermediate School District.
Funding is through the federal Perkins Career Technical Education Grant that provides for tuition, books and other ISD services.
Last year, 71 students participated in the Occupational Academies program with approximately half of those continuing at SMC after high school graduation.
The third type of SMC’s Early College opportunity is called Direct Credit.
This highly selective program allows the most advanced students in several area high school programs to follow SMC’s outcomes-based curriculum which is followed by a college-approved outcomes-based final exam.
Those students participating in this option who score well on the college’s final exam can earn college credit – all while remaining at their high school.
“Southwestern Michigan College’s Early College program, including Dual Enrollment, Academies and Direct Credit, allows local high schools to provide a higher level and wider range of course offerings than they could on their own,” said SMC Board of Trustees Chairman Dr. Fred Mathews.
“SMC’s Early College programs are a great service to the families of our region by providing a jump start to a college education while still in high school.”