Program Gives Irondale Students Head Start On College

NEW BRIGHTON, Minn. (WCCO) — A new program called “Early College” at Irondale High School in New Brighton will give all students, not just those at the top of their class, a chance to earn college credit.

While almost all high schools offer some access to college courses, this program is aimed at students who are in the 30th to 70th percentile academically in their class. Students who excel at this program can get a two-year degree from Anoka-Ramsey Community College while taking all their classes at Irondale.

In addition to the financial benefits, educators said by starting the college discussion with kids in ninth grade, it will make young people realize they are college material. Many students said they are excited about the program.

No one in Nathaniel McGee’s family has a college degree. Now he plans to enroll in Irondale’s “Early College” program and earn a two-year degree from Anoka-Ramsey Community College.

“I am really thankful for it,” McGee said. “It’s the best program I have been in in my entire life.”

Alexzia Shobe said she is planning to enroll too.

“Starting early on college saves you money it keeps you next to home and family and friends,” Shobe said.

Both McGee and Shobe said their families are thrilled that the classes come at no extra cost.

“Considering that it is free anyone should be happy to take this program,” McGee said.

A two-year degree at Anoka-Ramsey costs $10,000. Even if students don’t complete the two-year program, they will still be earning college credit that can be used when they do go to college. Another plus: Educators said just by getting students to start taking college level courses, more will end up going to college.

“This is real purposeful stuff where students realize they are a college bound student,” said Rob Reets, an English teacher at Irondale.

Students said another advantage is that all the classes will take place at the high school. Students said this allows them to enjoy the full High School experience without facing the intimidation of taking courses at a junior college or college with older kids.

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