From left at the SJC Early Middle College “Signing” night at Glen Oaks are Anita Lopez Schlabach, SJC EMC coordinator, Karin, Jakob, Hunter and Mark Zona

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 (13 th
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.