Early College Program

TCAPS is proud to offer the Early College Program to provide high school students with an increased opportunity to complete transferable college credits while still in high school. Different than dual enrollment, Early College provides students with a defined pathway towards both high school graduation and earning up to two years of college credit or an associate degree at Northwestern Michigan College. For more information, contact Jason Smith at 231.995.1082.

Application Procedure – Priority Deadline May 1, 2017

  • Attend an information session:
    • October 4, 2016: Early College/Dual Enrollment Information Booth
      4:30 PM - 7:30 PM at West Senior High School Fall Festival
    • October 11, 2016: Early College Information Session
      5:30 PM - 6:30 PM at Hagerty Center (prior to TBAISD/NMC College Night)
    • October 18, 2016: Dual Enrollment/Early College Information Session
      6:30 PM - 8 PM at Central High School Cafeteria
  • Set up a meeting with your high school counselor.
  • Fill out an online application form at External Linkwww.nmc.edu/apply.
  • Pay the one-time $20 application fee to NMC.
  • Send your school transcript to NMC through External Linkwww.parchment.com.
  • Take the free External LinkCOMPASS placement test at Northwestern Michigan College (NMC).

Benefits of Early College


  • Get up to two years of college from NMC with FREE tuition (family pays for textbooks and supplies)
  • Take a variety of college classes to help you decide your career path
  • If your passion is robotics, learn more and get ahead on training for your robotics career
  • Experience college courses before you graduate high school

Program Requirements


  • 9th-11th grade students
  • Desire to complete college credits before high school graduation
  • Good work ethic and motivation to succeed
  • Committed to completing the Early College Program
  • Desire to earn up to two years of free college tuition!

Program/Degree Options


Frequently Asked Questions

What is early college?

Early College is an initiative that provides high school students with the opportunity to earn a high school diploma and up to two years of college credit or an associate degree while still in high school. TCAPS has partnered with Northwestern Michigan College (NMC) to offer this unique high school and college program for students.

  • Did you Know? When six or more college classes are completed prior to high school graduation, students are more likely to complete college. (Berger et al., 2010)

How is this different than dual enrollment?

Early College is a set program of high school and college courses that helps a student start on a pathway towards both high school and college completion. Students will select from available early college pathways and complete college coursework that has been pre-selected based on competency models, transferability and articulation of credits.

Why is TCAPS pursuing early college?

The Early College program at TCAPS is being developed to:

  • Keep TCAPS on the leading edge of innovative secondary school offerings, to encourage high school graduation and post-secondary enrollment, and to help our students remain globally competitive, and keep learning at the center of all we do
  • Give students a definite plan and guided path towards secondary school completion and postsecondary enrollment
  • Increase college readiness and opportunity by providing more access to postsecondary coursework for secondary school students
  • Reduce the time and expense associated with postsecondary education for our students and their families

How does early college work?

  • Students, parents, and/or school counselors will identify that a student is interested in pursuing the Early College program. The school counselor will guide the student through the application and enrollment process.
  • Early College will include advanced placement and college courses beginning as early as 9th grade but no later than 11th grade. Students will complete a prescribed set of courses to meet both high school graduation and college transfer requirements. Checklists and planning guides will be made available to counselors, teachers, students, and parents.
  • Students will select a “pathway” which may lead them towards a robust science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) and robotics program of study, or a college transfer program of study which aims to help the student complete general education requirements and transfer to complete a bachelor’s degree in Michigan.
  • Both choices will offer students up to two years of college credit with the potential to earn both a high school diploma and an associate degree from NMC.

How long is the program?

The Early College program at TCAPS is designed to be a five year program for students.  Beginning in 9th grade students will take a set sequence of courses in order to complete all high school graduation requirements and up to two years of college credit at NMC. The fifth year of the program, referred to as the 13th year of high school, will be almost entirely filled with college courses taken at NMC.  Students who enroll in Early College are expected to follow the set course sequence through the fifth year of the program to take full advantage of the opportunity for tuition-free attendance at NMC.

How is this different from what TBAISD offers?

The Early College program at TBAISD has been developed with specific CTC programs in mind.  Students who are enrolled in a CTC program are being encouraged to take advantage of the TBAISD early college program that matches their CTC program. These students will take NMC and Ferris classes in addition to their high school/CTC classes.  Their programs typically begin in 10th grade and require enrollment in courses during fall, spring, and summer semesters. This program is administered entirely by TBAISD, Ferris, and NMC.

Can a student enter Early College in any grade (9th-12th)?

The Early College program has been designed to meet the developmental and foundational education needs of our students.  In addition, courses have been sequenced to allow for high school graduation as well as completion of course prerequisites.  To that end, the course sequences have been designed to begin in 9th grade. Michigan Department of Education does allow for Early College participation by 11th grade, however, the number of college credits the student may earn will be limited.

Who is eligible for Early College?

Any student in 9th-11th grade may be eligible for Early College, however, all students must take the COMPASS test to be placed in appropriate college courses and students must also complete course prerequisites for all college courses.

How does a student apply for Early College?

Any interested student may enroll at TCAPS and apply for Early College at Northwestern Michigan College. A simple application form and free placement testing will be required, as will a commitment by students and their parents to work diligently through the entire Early College program. TCAPS and NMC are committed to preparing students for success in a global economy and society, making this program uniquely positioned to offer focused learning goals for students.

How do I find out more about Early College?

Information sessions will take place in early spring 2014 for fall 2014 enrollment.  Interested students and parents should contact Jason Smithy at 231.995.1082 or jasmith@nmc.edu.

Where will students take their NMC classes?

Currently, TCAPS and NMC are working to offer college coursework planned for 9th and 10th grade students on the high school campus. There may be additional courses offered at the high schools as enrollment allows. College courses for 11th through 13th grades may be offered on the high school campus or at Northwestern Michigan College’s main campus.

Who will teach the NMC classes in the high schools?

NMC will establish a procedure for instructor credentialing which would allow qualified high school teachers to instruct NMC courses in the high schools.

What support will students receive?

TCAPS has numerous resources available for student support including after-school tutoring, during-school Academic Assistance. As NMC students, Early College participants will also have access to NMC’s Tutoring, Math, and Writing & Reading Centers.


Articulation – The process of comparing the content of courses that are transferred between educational institutions.

Articulation Agreement – A partnership between two educational organizations where a simplified, guaranteed process is created for transfer students.  The agreement outlines specific courses and grades completed at the high school or community college that will transfer to the university. They help students begin more defined curriculums.

Associate Degree – Granted upon completion of a program of no less than 60 earned college credits (all courses 100 level or above) at Northwestern Michigan College.

Concurrent Enrollment – College courses used for credit at both the high school and college level. What makes them different from dual enrollment classes is that they are taught by high school teachers who have been credentialed as college instructors. Grades and credit are recorded on an official college transcript as college-level courses.

Credit Hours – A unit of academic credit assigned to a class or course; one credit hour is usually equal to one hour of class per week for a 15 week semester at Northwestern Michigan College.

Dual Enrollment – College courses that may be used for credit at both the high school and college level. Students attend class at a college campus or at their high school. The classes are taught by college faculty members. Grades and credit are recorded on an official college transcript as college-level courses.

For more information, contact Jason Smith at 231.995.1082 or jasmith@nmc.edu.