It’s been a year of growth for the East Central College Early College Program. Compared to September of last year, student headcount has increased nearly 23 percent.

“We’re seeing substantial gains in Union, Washington, Owensville, St. Francis Borgia and Cuba,” said Megen Strubberg, Director of Early College Programs. “We also recently partnered with Nichols Career Center in Jefferson City in culinary arts, which is a first.”

More than 540 students are taking advantage of earning college credit in high school in 2019.

“We have worked very hard to communicate the benefits of early college programs, including dual credit and dual enrollment classes,” said Strubberg,” especially with regard to Missouri’s Core 42 initiative, which guarantees credit transfer for general education courses at all public higher education institutions in the state.”

Developing an early college program is part of East Central College’s new strategic plan, SOAR to 2024.

“Our goal is to increase the headcount of our early college students to 660 by 2024,” said Heath Martin, Vice President of Student Development. “We are almost halfway to that goal in the first year, which is very exciting.”

Working and communicating with high schools is key to growing the program.

“Our long-term goal is to work with local districts to create a true Early College Program, which will allow students to graduate high school with a post-secondary credential, up to an associate’s degree,” said Strubberg.

Additionally, East Central College is making it easier financially for high school students to get college credit.

“We will offer the Three for Free program again in 2020, which allows students to take one course tuition free over the summer,” said Martin.