New FCPS program to offer more than a high school degree

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The Early College program will offer students a chance to earn an associate's degree

FREDERICK, Md. (WDVM) — Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) is expanding its Dual Enrollment programs, like Open Campus, to include a major academic milestone: an associate’s degree.

“This is our first program that is focused on a college completion outcome. We did not have a program where students were supported through the opportunity to complete an associate’s degree,” explained dual enrollment coordinator with FCPS, Diana Sung.

The Early College program will allow sophomore students to attend Frederick Community College (FCC) in their junior and senior years.

They’ll follow the FCC academic calendar and choose their own courses and schedules, with credit going towards both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree.

“We are offering a lot of different majors that students can choose from, it’s not just one pathway they can choose. About 90-percent of our majors open to these early college students,” explained Andrew McClain with Frederick Community College.

McClain adds that some courses will not be available to this cohort, including those that are age-restricts and those that require certain admittances, like the school’s nursing program.

Sung says the program is focused on providing an opportunity for those who may not see higher education as an option due to financial barriers or additional challenges.

“Students who maybe their parents didn’t attend college, some students of color, sometimes students who maybe don’t have an advocate in their corner. The students who benefit the most from this kind of early college program are the students who maybe traditionally would have more barriers,” said Sung.

The cohort could be about 25 students. Each will receive about a 32-percent discount off tuition courtesy of FCPS and FCC.

Students who qualify for free or reduced meals would be eligible for a complete discount off of their tuition.

Patrick Williams is a current freshman at the community college. He went to Tuscarora High School and says that kind of savings is a plus for any student.

“I feel like that would make a significant difference considering you would be able to do more with supplies, you’d be able to save more money. I just feel like overall it would just be a lot easier,” Williams explained.

The program will be offered beginning Fall 2020.

FCC is hosting three information nights this fall. The first meeting is scheduled for September 17th.

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