In a new partnership between the Ingham Intermediate School District and Lansing Community College, high school students have a chance to start college early and it's all free of charge.
"We just received a grant of about $400,000 that will start the middle college here at LCC," said Stan Kogut, the superintendent for the Ingham Intermediate School District.
It was a state grant that was part of the state mandated ReImagine Districts in Michigan proposal. Districts were required to come up with plans to help redefine and help their schools. ISD came up with a concept to help high school transition into college while earning credits and potentially even a degree.
You won't be able to physically see The Middle College but, starting their junior year, students will take their required high school classes at LCC to get their diploma; and then, when they're ready, start with the college classes.
"It provides so many opportunities especially for kids who may not have gone off to college or whose parents can't afford it --- they can start to say, 'hey, I can do this; here's a way to do it," said Kogut.
High schoolers in Ingham County who are accepted, even have an option of staying for an extra year after their senior year to earn an Associate's Degree. The money they get from the state, their foundation grant, will follow them through this program, helping to offset the cost and it would continue if they choose to stay for an extra year
"They'll learn a little what it's like to be in a college and understand the freedoms and accountabilities that go with college and then transition to a full college life," said Kogut.
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or STEM is the main focus of the program.
"These students coming here will be in one of those fields and get college credit," said Kogut.
LCC President Brent Knight is equally excited about the new venture.
"It's important for students to advance in science, math, engineering in particular and we need more college graduates in Michigan," said Knight. "It's a way for high school students to get a headstart on earning college credit [and] it's at no cost to the students so it's a wonderful financial advantage," Knight said.
"Students are ready for that change, for something different," said Kogut. Especially as online courses start to gain popularity, he added. Kogut believes this is the program that students need.
And if the current students at LCC are any indication:
"[Middle College] would have saved so much time, it would have been much easier and faster," said second year student Tyler Zamra.
"I'm kind of jealous matter of fact," said first year student Titus Baldwin.
"There aren't enough students doing [sciences] and most want to get into sports or something else so getting into technology, which is really, really big now a days, that's a great opportunity," said Baldwin.
And when he found out it was free....
Baldwin laughed, "I really wish I had that when I was in high school." Baldwin took some time off between high school and college but says this program would have been college an automatic and immediate choice.
"Out of high school, you get to the big world and it's hard and a little different," said Baldwin. "If this opportunity was there, I definitely would have taken it."
Another first year Keanna Berry says the program would have been a benefit.
"You get to start early and get to your career," said Berry.
All incentives that students say would make going to college an automatic choice.
For more information on the application process just click on the link below or call the Ingham Intermediate School District at (517) 244-1212.