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Students Can Now Get Their High School And College Diplomas At Once

An innovative partnership between Montgomery College and Montgomery County Public Schools will not only cut the cost and time it takes to earn a degree, but it will launch the futures of our next generation of county teachers. In the process, friends and loved ones will have to pack extra tissues for graduation week festivities. Students at all MCPS high schools now have the opportunity to graduate with an associate’s degree from the College while simultaneously earning their Maryland state high school diploma.

Through the Early College Associate Degree Program, qualifying students will attend Montgomery College full time on the Rockville Campus during their 11th and 12th grade years of high school. Their course work at MC will also complete their high school requirements. Scheduled to begin in the fall 2018, the College plans to serve 30 students during the first year, then 55 students in the fall of 2019. About 300 students and parents attended an information session March 12 at the Rockville Campus.

“We have opened the door to dual enrollment to any student in the county who is interested in earning college credit,” said Dr. Elena Saenz, director of academic initiatives at the College.

Students will still be able to participate in extra-curricular programs, athletics, and other school events offered at their home high school. Students will participate in cohorts, attend classes taught by MC faculty, and receive guidance.

Saenz added, “Early College provides a diverse population with the opportunity to access higher education while still in high school that results in a reduction in time to earn a degree and a reduction in the cost of a degree.”

The total cost for one student to complete the EC program is approximately $5,800 for tuition, $5,500 for students in the free and reduced meals program at MCPS. Currently, for an in-county student at MC, tuition and fees for 60 credits totals about $9,950.

“We are always excited to partner with MC in an effort to provide enriched opportunities for our students and Early College program is the latest of many partnership efforts,” said Dr. Genevieve Floyd, supervisor of the career and postsecondary partnerships for MCPS.

The program provides the option of earning one of two degrees: the Associate of Arts in Teaching focuses on teaching mathematics at the secondary level; and the Associate of Science, Mathematics track focuses on general science with a mathematics emphasis. Once students hold a degree, they will be able to transfer to a four-year institution. The program stems from piloted efforts at Northwood and Northwest high schools. Offering a teaching degree sets students on a path to become teachers intentionally addresses workforce shortages.

“EC will indeed save time and money for students in their pursuit of a college degree, however, EC and the other dual enrollment programs also present a platform to build the skills of students in areas such as time management and communication,” Floyd said. “Because of the structure of the program, students will undoubtedly increase their level of independence and maturity, which will prepare them not only for college success, but in life.”

The deadline for prospective 10th-grade students to submit an interest form is April 16. Requirements for the program can be found in detail at the MC/MCPS Early College website.

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