Posted January 14, 2020
The Lorain County Early College High School (ECHS) program on Lorain County Community College’s campus is a great opportunity for eighth-grade students to earn both a high school diploma and a two-year associate degree at the same time.
“Each year at the College’s commencement ceremony, I am proud to recognize the 70-80 Early College High School graduates who march across the stage with the LCCC graduating class as they receive their associate degrees. To be able to earn two degrees by age 18, at no cost to their family and experience life on a college campus is simply an amazing experience for these students,” said LCCC President Marcia J. Ballinger, Ph.D. “They often have no history or tradition of college in their family, but the small learning community that ECHS gives them provides the support they need to succeed.”
Early College High School began at LCCC in 2003 through a partnership between the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, KnowledgeWorks Foundation and Jobs for the Future. Since then, more than 500 students from Elyria, Lorain and around the county have graduated from the program. Collectively, ECHS students have earned more than 30,000 college credits, which adds up to a cost savings of more than $7 million for local families.
Now enrolling for fall 2020, priority registration is for students who will be the first in their family to earn a college degree. They will enter the ECHS program as ninth graders through Lorain or Elyria High School or as an open-enrolled student through Elyria. Students attend all four years on the LCCC campus and take high school and college courses earning dual credit, many students graduating with an associate degree and their high school diploma. Tuition and books are free.
Mason Repas of Elyria graduated from Early College High School last year and is on her way to a bright future. When considering enrolling, she said, “I saw how LCCC supports student growth, and I wanted to take advantage of all the opportunities it afforded students, before, during and after high school.”
Repas’ success at ECHS led her to the Honors College at Cleveland State University in the fall of 2019, confident she was well prepared, thanks to the associate of arts degree she earned at LCCC. And because she had a leg up on the general education credits that most students spend their first two years in college earning, she has the time and freedom to explore her interests through a variety of experiences, taking a course load that aligns with her passions.
“I’m super excited,” said Repas. “I’m ecstatic to be able to study things that interest me and enter a world that, hopefully, I’m going to enjoy spending the rest of my life in.”
Repas’ goal is to complete an English major and theater minor with an eye toward completing CSU’s Master of Urban Secondary Teaching program immediately thereafter. She says her LCCC experiences have fully prepared her for the demands of college course work.
“All of the Early College academic success coaches and faculty have been instrumental in guiding me over the last four years,” she said. “Those at LCCC truly want students to succeed.”
Several current ECHS students agree with Repas. “Early College gives you the opportunity to experience the rigors of college life prior to graduating high school,” said Kaitlyn Armstrong of Lorain.
Malik Jones, also of Lorain, said “Early College is a challenging and fun environment where everyone cares about you and is willing to help you succeed.”
“Early College high school provides you with a lot of opportunities and helps you work towards your future career at a quicker pace,” noted Lyndsey Hall of Elyria.
Interested eighth-grade students and their parents or guardians can learn more about the ECHS program at several upcoming information nights. These will be held:
• Elyria High School Performing Arts Center, Tuesday, January 21 at 6:30 p.m.
• Lorain General Johnnie Wilson, Thursday, January 23 at 5 p.m.
• Lorain Longfellow Middle School, Thursday, January 23 at 7 p.m.
• Lorain County Community College, College Center Commons, Wednesday, January 29 at 6:30 p.m.
For more information on the program or the information nights, call (440) 366-7689 or visit http://www.lorainccc.edu/earlycollege.