Beginning this fall, the Grand Haven, Spring Lake, Coopersville and Allendale school districts will collaborate with Muskegon Community College to offer the Northwest Ottawa County Early College Initiative. Students accepted into the program may take Muskegon Community College courses beginning in their junior year of high school to achieve a two-year associate's degree for little cost to them.
Students in the program would attend high school for an additional year and would split their day between the two schools.
The deadline for applications was last week.
Spring Lake High School Principal Mike Gilchrist said students would participate in high school graduation celebrations with their classmates, but they wouldn’t receive their high school diploma until after their 13th year — as well as an associate's degree from Muskegon Community College.
“They would be ahead of the game,” Gilchrist said.
Since each school has a limited number of spaces, students must go through an application process requiring two letters of recommendation, a written essay and a family interview, and advisors must find the program would have value for the student.
Gilchrist said it’s for young men and women who work hard and want to attend college, even if they aren’t straight-A students.
Brian Sabo, a Spring Lake High School counselor, said it’s exciting to talk to students about the program because they are starting to face the reality of what it means to pay for post-secondary education.
“You can see the excitement in their faces of getting two years for free,” he said.
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