By Chloe Ranger-Raimundi
Grand Rapids Community College offers the Early Middle College (EMC) program, designed for high school students to graduate with an Associates degree.
Salina Feliciano-Wheeler, a GRCC student who is participating in the EMC program through Cedar Springs High School, states, “overall I’d say it was a pretty good [experience].” She is currently completing her 13th year.
Through this program, the student is enrolled in high school classes and GRCC courses simultaneously during the sophomore, junior, and senior years. The student must complete a 13th year, in which they attend classes solely at GRCC. Upon completion of the 13th year, the student receives an Associates degree, backed for transfer by the Michigan Transfer Agreement.
The program is offered through partnerships with Cedar Springs, Wyoming, East Kentwood, Ottawa Hills, Kent Intermediate School District, and the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District.
All tutoring and extracurricular clubs are available for the student to participate in. Feliciano-Wheeler said, “we were encouraged to participate in tutoring labs but, as for activities, we didn’t really get the chance to do anything.” As EMC students are not on campus until the final stages of the program, it is difficult to get involved.
“This program was great, although it was a pain at times,” Feliciano-Wheeler said. “I wish we had more of a choice for the classes we took during our first two years.” Course work for the first two years of the program are pretty much set. Personalization for course work comes in the senior and “super senior,” or 13th, year.
Within Feliciano-Wheeler’s cohort, the group of EMC students in her graduating high school class, there were students who enrolled in the program with no plans of transferring to another college or university after graduation. This was a great opportunity for these students to get their Associates of the Arts and begin their careers.
Other students planned on transferring,. The transfer is accepted mainly by schools in Michigan. Credits gained through this program are not recognized by many schools out of state. The degree received though EMC is not accepted by the majority of the Ivy league schools, as the courses are completed concurrently and for high school credit.
When asked about retaking this program, if she was given the opportunity to restart her schooling career, she responded that she would have enrolled in this program again: “It gave me a head start.” Feliciano-Wheeler expressed that she believes “this program should’ve been pushed harder for people to take.”
Just as with any college acceptance, all decisions should be made under careful consideration of future goals.