Eastern Michigan University previews college to 9th-graders

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YSPILANTI, Mich. (AP) — Eastern Michigan University is giving ninth-graders a taste of what it’s like to take classes on a college campus.

Nearly 30 high school freshmen make up the new Ninth-Grade Academy, which is offered as part of the university’s Early College Alliance program.

Students in the academy take high school-level classes on the university campus. They’ll then join the existing three-year alliance program as 10th-graders, the Ann Arbor News reported.

The Early College Alliance has given high school upperclassmen from Washtenaw County and neighboring counties the opportunity to earn 60 free college credits while they complete their high school diplomas. The program has existed for the past decade, but the Ninth-grade Academy is in its pilot year.

Students in the program eventually take more college course, and the program allows them to take a fifth year of high school if necessary to complete the requirements for a high school diploma and the equivalent of an associate degree.

The program is one of three that make up the Washtenaw Educational Options Consortium, which is overseen by superintendents of the county’s nine traditional public school districts and the Washtenaw Intermediate School District.

Education officials have found that the transition from a typical high school experience to a program where high school upperclassmen are expected to excel in college classes proved difficult for some, said Ellen Fischer, principal of the program. She also said some teens are reluctant to switch schools after their freshman year of high school.

Fischer said the Ninth-Grade Academy aims to address both issues by letting students start their high school experience in the program and giving them an extra year to develop the skills they’ll need to meet the higher demands of college classes.

“The Early College Alliance first year tends to be really high rigor. Sometimes it’s a really abrupt shift,” she said. “The idea was to provide a more gradual transition for the students.”

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