Early College Programs: A Head Start to Your Future

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Cassandra Lawton
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Community college was important in my family. My grandmother went to Muskegon Community College (MCC) for nursing while taking care of two young kids as a single parent. She attained her Associate’s degree and unfortunately had to stop there. She always tells me she wishes she went further. My sister also attended MCC and she is now at Central Michigan University (CMU) studying English. I always assumed I was going to go to MCC as well, but I ended up going a lot sooner than I thought.

An amazing program called the Early College Program came to my high school allowing students to enroll in college courses beginning in 11th grade. Participants could earn an Associate’s degree one year after graduating high school and it would be completely paid for. After much thought, I joined the program and in 11th grade I began taking six college credits. I went on to graduate with a high school diploma and received my Associate’s degree one year later. I am now at Michigan State University (MSU) where I am majoring in Human Development and Family studies. I plan to become a Marriage and Family therapist.

I have many fond memories of my community college years. After my first semester at MCC I was invited to join Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) where I later became an officer in charge of fundraising. I raised almost $3,000 during my term, and learned many valuable lessons.

In my second year at MCC I took an American Government course. Although the subject was one of my least favorites, my professor made the course fun and enjoyable, even when we deciphered the Pledge of Allegiance! He cared very deeply about his students and even now three years later, goes out of his way to write letters of recommendation for me.  

My favorite place to study on campus was on the second floor by the education office. There is a desk and window where I could see the pond, a raised garden patio, and the river. It is a beautiful place to sit and look at the outside, and a very peaceful place to study.

I took advantage of many of the wonderful resources at MCC, including advisers (who I saw countless times), a writing center, and a help desk for technical issues. There are also physical resources such as study rooms, the testing center, and even music rooms that were free of charge for students. I was always able to find help when I needed it. The resource I used the most on campus is the writing center. They were open five days a week, and had multiple people to read and offer help with any type of assignment. I was even able to bring a couple of novel chapters in and they edited them for free.

Looking back on everything, joining the Early College Program and going to MCC was one of the smartest decisions I’ve ever made. I saved a ton of money, gained so many priceless experiences, and met some amazing people that even now help me through my higher education.journey. A huge thank you to Muskegon Community College and the Early College program for allowing me to be a part of their amazing family.


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