Early Middle College is officially launched in St. Joseph County 60 students to take advantage of new program offering free college credit

Whether one’s path is an associate degree, a certificate program, a career and technical program or up to two years of transferable college credit toward a bachelor’s degree, high school students can now take advantage of free college credit through Glen Oaks Community College as part of the new Early Middle College (EMC) program in St. Joseph County.

“This is an exciting time in St. Joseph County,” said Anita Lopez Schlabach, St. Joseph County EMC coordinator. “The EMC program opens doors for students, particularly first generation college students, who may not have had access to education before, and the nice part is that there are a variety of choices from which students can choose. We expect this initiative to raise the education attainment level of the population in the county which, in turn, will help boost the area’s economy.”

A handful of students in the county (2018 graduates) began their journey in a pilot program last fall. Early Middle College students follow a rigorous educational development plan and attend an additional year (13th grade) to complete both high school and college program requirements simultaneously.

“Students in the EMC program work with a school counselor in developing an educational plan that’s designed specifically for them,” said Schlabach. “In the spring of one’s sophomore year of high school, students and a parent/guardian attend a mandatory orientation or ‘Signing’ which occurred this week at Glen Oaks. The students in the program receive an exceptional academic experience that promotes student success while reducing the time and expenses of a college education, as the tuition, fees and books are paid for by the school district. The Michigan Department of Education will continue to pay the district its per pupil allowance for students during their fifth year.”

Schlabach was hired last fall as the coordinator of the SJC EMC program and has been busy working with the high school counselors and the St. Joseph County Intermediate School District to develop and promote the new program.

Parents and students interested in learning more about the program can contact Schlabach at (269) 294-4234.

The St. Joseph County EMC Program is made possible through a collaborative partnership between the St. Joseph County Intermediate School District, participating St. Joseph County high schools, St. Joseph County College Access Network (CAN) and Glen Oaks Community College.