Midland Public School students earn college credit this year

COLLEGE CENTER – Some Midland public school students are positioning themselves ahead of the college learning curve.

Midland Public Schools Curriculum Specialist Tracy Speaker-Gerstheimer said 18 students are the first cohort of high school students earning up to 60 transferable college credits through the district’s new early middle school program.

“There’s a significant percentage of our students and families who might look at our program and say, ‘What a great opportunity to help my child save time, money and maybe get into the adulthood with very little debt,” President-Gerstheimer said.

Students enrolled in the new program gathered Wednesday at Delta College’s main campus for an orientation. Midland Public Schools announced in February that its two high schools — HH Dow High School and Midland High School — would offer early middle school starting at the start of this next school year.

According to the Michigan Department of Education website, “a first college is a five-year (state-approved) program of study.”

Dow High junior Merrick Shuman said the program will help him “hang out” with animals faster as a budding vet. He expects to spend more time studying and preparing for classes in the program.

“I feel good to have a bit of a head start,” he said, adding that his parents, Jonathan and Karla Shuman, have been supporting him in the new program.

Early college students are enrolled in both online and traditional learning environments, taking advantage of the flexibility that comes with college coursework. Some will take classes at Delta College’s main campus and/or at the Delta campus in Midland.

Wednesday’s orientation resonated with a traditional orientation for freshmen because it was largely structured by the college. Most students were able to learn about accessing key resources, such as retrieving ID cards and borrowing books from the library.

“Everything that’s available to a traditional Delta College student is also available to early college program students,” President-Gerstheimer said.

All students will take their first college English course and a sociology elective in the fall. The courses were chosen based on Michigan’s transfer agreement.

“We want students to take courses that will help them wherever they go,” President-Gerstheimer said. “We don’t want them to participate in a buffet; we want them to take courses that will lead to a degree. These are the ones that will be accepted into any public university in the state.”

Michigan has 114 early college programs, including in the Bullock Creek and Coleman districts. Meridian Public Schools offers a comprehensive program at Meridian Early College High School, where every student is automatically enrolled in the program.

Local programs work closely with post-secondary partners to provide students with the opportunity to earn a high school diploma and one or more of the following:

  • An associate degree
  • A professional certification
  • The Michigan Early Middle College Association Technical Certificate
  • Participation in enrolled learning
  • 60 transferable college credits

Midland students could attend Delta College or Davenport, per district agreements. President-Gerstheimer said the Davenport program specializes in cybersecurity. She said she hopes to further promote the opportunity with Davenport this coming year after the first cohort of students choose Delta for courses leading to college credit.

Midland Public Schools hopes to expand the program. President-Gerstheimer said she hopes to see about 100 students enrolled as the program scales. Those eligible each year are incoming juniors or seniors with a minimum 3.0 grade point average.

Each year, nearly 1,000 area students experience college life through Delta College’s dual enrollment program.

“Students can get the college experience while they’re still in high school,” said office professional Shelley Slivinski of the Dual Enrollment Office. “They know what to expect when they graduate from high school and go to college.”

Parents and families interested in the program can apply before January 26 to participate in the 2023-2024 school year. The following schedule includes parent and student information meetings with tentative meeting locations:

  • 6-7 p.m. Nov. 16 at the Dow High School Media Center
  • 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. December 7 at Midland High School Cafeteria
  • 6-7 p.m. January 12, 2023 at the Midland Public Schools Administration Center

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