Four years ago, Farwell High School received a Re-Imagine grant through the State of Michigan to create an Early College program, which is currently in its second year of implementation.
This program, which might be described as a “school within a school,” allows enrolled students to earn their high school diplomas while also earning college credentialing through Mid Michigan Community College. Program participants, if they choose, can complete their full associates degrees from MMCC before they graduate from high school.
In order to complete the curriculum requirements for both high school and the college’s associate degrees, Early College students attend five years of high school rather than the standard four.
“We created the Early College model so that we could encourage post-secondary success for all of our students,” noted Dee Yarger, Farwell’s High School Principal. “But, what we’re realizing is that the program does a lot more than just introduce and prepare students for college—it really allows us to expand our opportunities for students and to challenge them in new ways.”
During the first couple of years, college coursework takes place at Farwell high school, so that younger students can be supported in the high school environment. As students progress toward their fifth years, they take more and more classes at MMCC. During their fifth years, participants take nearly all of their courses at the college.
In order to remove as many barriers into the program as possible, the Farwell school district assumes all tuition costs for enrollees.
“Farwell’s Early College program indicates how successfully high schools can incorporate college curriculum into their own programming,” notes Rick Smith, MMCC’s Off-Campus Coordinator. “MMCC works very hard to ensure that college courses delivered in high school settings have the same content and rigor as any of our other college courses. With appropriate tutoring, mentoring, and transition services in place, the students in those courses receive extraordinary support to help them succeed.
Over 80 Farwell students have participated in the Early College program since its inception. Twenty-eight are set to receive college credentials and high school diplomas in May, while one student has already graduated early from the program. These students have been highly successful in the program overall, which is indicated by their 2.85 average college GPAs.
“It’s been remarkable to see the dramatic shifts for some of our students in terms of their performance and motivations,” says Lynette Lentovich, Director of Farwell’s Early College. “We have one student who is successfully engaged in his college career program, though his academic rank was 88th of 90 in his high school class; another student who carried a 1.5 high school GPA currently holds a 3.5 GPA in his college classes. We think that the additional support and mentoring components of the program really contribute to these success stories.”
To learn more about Farwell’s Early College program, contact: Lynette Lentovich at 989-588-9913. To learn more about MMCC’s dual enrollment programming or its other off-campus efforts, contact Jessie Gordon at 989.317.4626 or