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GCC may expand Early College program


Ryan Jarvi/Daily Globe

STACY CROUCH, director of off-campus operations at Gogebic Community College, left, updates GCC's Board of Trustees on the college's Early College program at the monthly board meeting Tuesday. Also pictured is Ken Trzaska, dean of instruction, center, and Jeanne Graham, dean of students.

IRONWOOD - Gogebic Community College's Board of Trustees heard that a number of schools in the Copper Country are showing interest in its Early College program during an update at its meeting on Tuesday.

Calumet School District is completing its first year of the program, with about 85 students participating at GCC's Copper Country Center.

Stacy Crouch, director of off- campus operations at GCC, told board members that several other schools in the Copper Country, as well as Ironwood High School, are interested in partnering with GCC on the program.

"These schools have students who are academically excelling already and are four-year institution-bound, so they have a scope of who they are looking at for that program," Crouch said.

Lake Linden-Hubbell Public Schools has presented it to their school board and is looking into application materials and signing an agreement, Crouch said.

Other school districts considering the partnership with GCC include Hancock, Houghton, Dollar Bay and Jeffers.

The program allows a high school student to take college courses through GCC during their final two years of high school and earn their high school diploma, as well as an associate's degree in arts or science through GCC the following year.

An associate degree normally takes two years for a student to complete, if enrolled full-time. The high school student would basically complete 30 college credits in their junior and senior years of high school, and the remaining 30 credits their first year at GCC's center.

The program would be no cost to the student for the first two years, with the high school picking up the bill.

Jeanne Graham, GCC's dean of students, said when a student applies for college after participating in the program it will not affect their financial aid.

"You're eligible for financial aid based on income the previous year and that has nothing to do with early college or not," Graham said.

Students would be eligible for full financial support as if they were a first-year college student.

Students have to be enrolled in the program by the fall of their junior year, but must first be accepted by achieving the prerequisite scores on a variety of assessments, and having an acceptable high school grade point average to be admitted in the program.

"The (high) school is first looking at their grades and making sure that they think (the students) are a good fit for the program, and then they're sending them to us to further look at the assessment," Crouch said.

Members of GCC's Board of Trustees said they were hopeful that the program may gain new partners with local high schools, and feel it would be a good opportunity for the students and the college.

"A lot of students too are saying, we want this opportunity and if we have to go to Calumet to get this opportunity, they might, so these schools now are looking at it a lot closer." Crouch said.


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