- Associated Press - Monday, December 15, 2014

LAPEER, Mich. (AP) - Between dual enrollment, online courses and advanced classes, there are multiple opportunities for students to leave high school with college credits.

Lapeer County Intermediate School District wanted to take it a step further, The Flint Journal (https://bit.ly/1zLJKmi ) reported.

In a partnership with Baker College of Flint, they formed the STEMM Academy, where students could earn up to 60 transferable college credits, a college associate’s degree or a technical certificate at no cost to the students or their families.

The STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medical) Academy would allow students to be in a cohort, take college courses during the school day in Lapeer and then have the option of a fifth year of high school to continue taking courses at Baker at no cost.

The idea of an early middle college is not a new one, said Steve Zott, Lapeer County ISD superintendent, but it’s just another option they want to offer to students.

“It’s not an idea we had to replace those other options we talked about. It was to add another option,” Zott said. “We just think this is an option that students in Lapeer County find very attractive.”

The early/middle college program will launch in the fall of 2015. Four Lapeer school districts - Almont, Dryden, Imlay and North Branch - will kick off the partnership.

A student can earn 24 college credits as a junior, 36 credits as a senior and 48 credits during a fifth year of high school. Those who elect to take fifth-year coursework may walk with their class at graduation but will receive their high school diploma at the completion of their STEMM Academy program.

Juniors and seniors will take the college courses at the Lapeer County ISD Education Technology Center, but during the fifth year of high school, students will attend classes at Baker College of Flint’s main campus, 1050 W. Bristol Road in Flint Township, or at the Baker College Center for Transportation Technology, 1717 S. Dort Highway, Flint, depending upon the area of study.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for students to gain higher education with no cost to their parents,” said Baker College of Flint President Wendy Hemingway. “It’s a great opportunity for students to get an education and get training in a field of their choice prior to graduating from high school. It gives them the skills they need to be employable straight out of high school.”

This is Baker’s first early college partnership, said Jodi Cuneaz, vice president of admissions at Baker. She said Baker is working closely with the high school students who are college ready.

She hopes to see the partnership expand to other areas in the future, Cuneaz said.

“(Students) are often undecided in what route they want to go,” she said. “What this allows them to do is that students are able to engage in that college curriculum and they are able to explore some of those college opportunities in STEMM while they are in high school.”

The STEMM Academy will also include a seminar piece to it, where students will learn more about the college experience, administration process, financial aid and other campus resources to better prepare them for the higher education experience, Zott said.

It will also include an additional adviser format where students can work on a plan after high school and get them more prepared.

“To expect them to really know what type of career they are interested in is difficult. A real problem is that college is expensive. The idea to just go and explore sounds nice, but it’s expensive,” Zott said. “If you can bridge that, do a better job on our end (there will be a more positive result).”

Students will have more information on what careers entail and what to choose and what not to choose in college, Zott said.

There will be some requirements for the students who enter the STEMM Academy. GPA, test scores and Baker’s entrance exam will be used to evaluate who is ready for college courses.

An example of first-year courses includes intro to college algebra, intermediate college algebra, composition 1, composition 2, principles of macroeconomics and American political systems.

“We’re going to better accomplish that transition (to college) to be successful,” Zott said. “Students can have a better focus on what kind of career or focus they might have … We’re very excited.”

___

Information from: The Flint Journal, https://www.mlive.com/flint

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