TRAVERSE CITY — The early college program at Suttons Bay High School is wrapping its second year, and teachers and administrators want to see more students enroll in the fall.
Suttons Bay Public Schools, Suttons Bay Virtual School and Northwestern Michigan College teamed to give students the opportunity to earn both their high school diploma and associate degree in five years. There are 11 students in the program so far.
Suttons Bay High School guidance counselor Sarah Christensen said students sign up for the program during their sophomore year. Students attend both high school- and college-level classes either at the high school or through the virtual school and then move to the NMC campus for career-focused courses in the fifth year.
Suttons Bay Public Schools pays for NMC tuition and fees during the program.
“It’s a great program for students who might be the first one in the family to go to college because of the support that we’re offering here in the high school while they’re taking college courses,” Christensen said.
Christensen, teachers and current early college students are hosting an information night about the program this evening. The information session is geared toward current high school freshman and their parents.
Christensen said the question she hears most from students concerns the five-year track. Students don’t want to feel like they are still in high school during the fifth year, and Christensen assures them that they won’t.
Students participating in the early college program still can walk with their peers at the graduation ceremony after four years, though they won’t receive their diploma until the following year.
During the fifth year of the program students will be taking all but one class through NMC, and students can take the last high school credit online.
“They would basically be a full NMC student, and the district pays for the tuition,” Christensen said.
Today’s information session begins at 7 p.m. in the Suttons Bay High School auditorium.