(Pictured left - Early College participants with the Board of Education)
Students at Crete-Monee High School are getting an early start on their future through participation in the school’s Early College Program. Through this program, students can earn approximately one year of college credit while still enrolled in high school. District 201-U partnered with Prairie State College on this ground-breaking program; the first of its kind in the southland providing students with an early glimpse of college life.
“The first thing I noticed was the freedom the program offered. I was responsible for attending class and there were no teachers making me do my homework,” said Ian Young, CMHS Early College participant. “It’s challenging but different. It’s a new place with new people but we’ve developed a connection. We all know that we want to be here and are ready to take the next step in our future.” Participation in the Early College Program is at no expense to students or their families and allows seniors to earn 12 to 15 hours of transferrable college credit per semester to a four-year university.
Currently in its second year, qualified Crete-Monee High School students attend classes at Prairie State College full-time for the entire school year and return to the high school only for the last class period. Students are dually enrolled allowing them to take courses at the college but still participate in extracurricular athletics and activities that are offered at the high school. This school year, 23 Crete-Monee High School seniors are enrolled in the Early College Program earning course credit in English, math, and career technical preparation classes. The program was designed to expand course availability and educational opportunities for students and to encourage more students to consider higher education. “This experience has been an eye-opening one. I’ve definitely learned about personal responsibility and it’s helped open my eyes to the skill level I need to excel in a college setting,” said Keynan Harden II, CMHS Early College participant.
In order to participate in the Early College Program, students must be a senior and meet all placement criteria of Prairie State College. Participants also must be on track to graduate. “We foresee the time when a student will be able to graduate from Crete-Monee High School with one year of transferable college credit in the core curriculum areas. This will provide a strong advantage to our students both academically and financially in terms of reaching a college degree,” said Tom Hysell, Vice President of the Board of Education. In the coming years, Crete-Monee School District along with Prairie State College are looking to continue expansion of course offerings and development of a broader program structure for future students.