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CLK Early College Program empowers students, helps reduce tuition expense

CLK Early College Program empowers students, helps reduce tuition expense

Eight years ago, CLK Public Schools launched the Early College Program, in partnership with Gogebic Community College (GCC), to offer high school students the opportunity to complete six years of education in just five years. Since then, the Graduating classes at Calumet High School have earned thousands of college credits -- and saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in tuition. The voluntary program continues to motivate Calumet students to pursue educational opportunities that push them higher and inspire them to explore and learn new things.

In the CLK Early College Program, participants take college classes from GCC during their four-year high school career, then add a fifth year, graduating with both a high school degree and an associate degree in arts or sciences. Normally it takes two years just to complete an associate degree. Best of all, the five-year educational experience is free for students who complete the fifth year.

The program also empowers students who wish to pursue a bachelor's degree. Up to 63 of the college credits earned in the program may also be transferable towards an undergraduate degree, such as a B.S. or B.A., from a four-year college or university.

"This program makes a lot of sense financially, but it's also a great way for students to challenge themselves academically," says English teacher Kate Bonacorsi. "It gives them more opportunities to diversify their own curriculum in the ways that fit their needs and helps them take charge of their own learning."

The Early College Program has blossomed over the past three years, growing from 64% student participation in 2019 to 77% participation in 2021. Since 2019 alone, 274 students have taken part in the Early College Program, earning a total of 5,172 college credits, with each graduating class saving an average of $194,812 to $1.2 million in college costs based on community college and university tuition costs.

Calumet High School student Isabelle Holmstrom appreciates the support she’s received through CLK Schools' Early College Program. "I like that I can get a head start on college while still in high school and that it's free. Also, because it's taught in high school it's very convenient." Student Bella Harju agrees. "I like that I get to earn college credits for free while also getting high school credits. I think this will truly benefit me in the future and save lots of money." Keith Billeck also likes the chance to get a taste of college. "It's a great way to get a look into how a college classroom works and feels. All in all, I think it is a very good program that benefits students like myself in a ton of ways."

To learn more about CLK Schools Early College Program, check-out the Calumet High School web page.

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Public Schools of Calumet, Laurium & Keweenaw

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