GWINN — Officials from Northern Michigan University visited Gwinn High School Tuesday to seal the deal on a concurrent enrollment program.

Northern Promise is a program created by NMU to offer an alternative way for high school students to get college credit. Gwinn High School just became the fifth local school to join the fledgling program.

“We deliver regular college courses right here at the high school,” said NMU President Dr. Fritz Erickson.

“We’ll be offering Calculus and English 111 – that will be four credits – so our students conceivably could leave here with eight college credits next year without having to leave our campus,” said Gwinn Area Community Schools Superintendent Tom Jayne.

The courses are taught by teachers who meet accreditation standards, and curriculum matches what the students would learn by taking the classes directly on NMU’s campus. While they won’t have to make the drive to Marquette, students will still get a peek at the demands of post-secondary education.

“In addition to the classes and the credits, it also kind of gives us a jump start on what college is like,” said Nicole Usher, a Gwinn High School senior.

“These classes are college classes, and with that comes the high expectations, the rules that govern a college class,” Jayne added.

“You can learn a little bit about the college life without having to be thrown into it all at once,” said senior Victoria Lauren.

“If they can have a college class under their belt and they get a good grade and have that confidence, it makes that transition a lot smoother,” said Darren Smith, a Calculus and Physics teacher at Gwinn High School and adjunct faculty at the NMU Physics Department.

In addition to exposure to college life, students in the program can save time and money by getting a head start toward completing a degree.

Levi Lauren, a junior at Gwinn High School added, “I hope to finish my prereqs, and then hopefully just be able to finish my majors a lot quicker.”

“The biggest cost savings happens when you control time to degree,” Erickson added, “and if we can help the students spend a semester or a year less in college, that’s real savings to the family.”