Talk about a head start.
Wyoming High School students Max Kallemeyn and Gabby Menard plan to graduate with 60 college credits already earned and paid for, an opportunity they didn’t want to pass up.
“I could get my two years out of the way and then transition to a four-year college,” said Gabby, who’s taking two college courses this semester as a high school junior. “Obviously, it’s saving money too.”
Students dually enrolled at Wyoming High School and Grand Rapids Community College through the Wyoming Middle College program can complete 60 credits transferable to state colleges and universities and/or an associate’s degree without paying tuition. The cost for classes is paid for through the per-pupil foundation allowance from the state.
“It’s another option for students that they may not have realized they had,” said Wyoming High School Principal Nathan Robrahn. “It helps families, certainly financially. It allows kids who maybe didn’t realize they could go to college the opportunity.”
The program, which started last school year, accepts up to 50 students each year beginning sophomore year. Last year 48 students went through the program and this year 42 more are starting. College courses are taught by a GRCC instructor at the high school, removing the burden of traveling off site for students.
Students complete a modified schedule, with a blend of high school and college courses each semester, and will complete a fifth year of high school. To be accepted, students must pass a college-readiness exam following their freshman year to demonstrate they are prepared for the rigorous schedule.
Improving college accessibility
The program doesn’t focus on top academic performers, but on the mid-level students who might benefit from the accessibility of college classes in high school, Robrahn said. College costs are a huge concern and barrier for many Wyoming students and families, so this option is a big help to them. “I probably would have had to apply for a lot of scholarships,” Gabby said. “I think it’s really nice I had the chance to do this.”
Earning the 60 credits needed for the degree isn’t easy. “Our American Government class is no joke,” Gabby said, outside her Introduction to Theater class taught by GRCC instructor Tom Kaechele.
Robrahn said about 55 percent of Wyoming High School graduates go on to a two or four-year college, and administrators are working to increase that to 75 to 80 percent. “College readiness is important to us, and this is another way to increase the number of kids going to college,” he said.
Kenowa Hills Public Schools has a partnership with Davenport University in place for high school students to earn associate’s degrees or up to 60 credits transferable to state colleges and universities. It also requires a fifth year in high school.
Connect: Middle College