ISHPEMING — Local students are getting a head start on college with a growing program. ABC 10’s Sarah Mac has more.
Officials from NMU were traveling Friday morning to local schools in the U.P. for the Northern Promise program.
NMU President Fritz Erickson says, “The goal is to provide students who are interested and willing to work hard to take regular college classes before they graduate from high school, so they get a jump on college.”
Their first stop was Westwood High School in Ishpeming, where the program started three years ago.
NICE Community Schools Superintendent Bryan DeAugustine says, “It’s really spawned into something that’s been great for both Westwood High School and for Northern Michigan University and it’s starting to take root across the Upper Peninsula. So we’re proud of the fact that we were the founding school to get the idea started.”
The Promise Program offers concurrent classes for high school students. That means they can take courses as a part of their normal class schedule, at their high school, with teachers on staff at the high school and earn high school and college credit for the same course.
Students say that’s pretty convenient. But wait there’s more! It’s at no cost to the students.
“So far what we’ve done at NICE Community Schools is we’ve made a commitment to provide our students college courses,” DeAugustine added, “we’ve been paying the full tuition. We budget about $60,000 a year to pay for the roughly 20 students who take the classes. Northern’s been, again, great partners, and they’re looking at ways they can reduce those costs for us, because they know that we are paying the full tuition. So they’re slowly bringing the cost down for, which makes it more affordable for each student who takes a class.”
Needless to say, it’s become something the students are sold on.
Westwood Senior Katie Etelamaki says, “I think what I like the most is I get to just have the experience of like how it’s going to kind of be, but it’s still at my high school so it’s not very scary.”
Westwood High School Senior Andrew Manzoline says, “I would recommend it because you get, you know, a college credit paid for by Westwood. So you’re already going in to college, if you take more like I have taken more college credits throughout my career, you go in with a lot of college credits.”
DeAugustine says that Andrew already has 24 college credits under his belt. The credits are transferable to most any school, just like any others at NMU.
The program has expanded to different schools in Escanaba and Kingsford, and officials hope it will go farther.