Early college program kicks off in Jackson Co. on Thursday

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JACKSON, Mich. (WILX) -- Students of Jackson Co. can now take part in a new educational opportunity.

The Jackson County Early College (JCEC) is holding a kickoff event on Thursday, at 5:30 p.m., on the Central campus of Jackson College.

"The Jackson County Early College (JCEC) program represents a transformational shift in education for the children of Jackson County," said Jeff Beal, Superintendent of Jackson Public Schools. "This shift moves from a traditional K-12 approach to a much more robust K-14 pathway that will be tailored for every child to find their way from the classroom to a career."

The new program is open to students in every public high school in the county.

It's designed to help students beyond traditional dual enrollment, in which students select their own college courses, toward a career path. This offers a maximum of 60 credits at a small fraction of the cost, according to the JCEC.

"As early as ninth grade, students can begin taking classes on campus at Jackson College and get a head start on working towards an associate degree, certification, or credential."

They say that JCEC students will see significant cost savings for their education compared to most traditional college students, with much of the expense covered by the home district.

This program will also have "Universal Exit" which allows students the flexibility to leave the program at any time up to or before the end of their 13th year, provided they are meeting State of Michigan high school graduation requirements.

"This is an inclusive program designed to encourage students from all backgrounds to earn college credits, a degree, or a certification; and be prepared for a meaningful and successful career in the community," said Jean Logan, Jackson County Early College Administrator. "One of our desired outcomes is 'community retention' - creating a workforce that will remain in the area to support the growing economic base. The potential to impact Jackson County's business community in meeting its workforce needs is substantial."

Students can apply now for the program and begin classes at Jackson College in the fall of 2018.

The kick off event is Thursday, March 8 at 5:30 p.m. in Bert Walker Hall, rooms 144 & 145, on the Central campus of Jackson College.