More than 400 students have gotten their start via the free program, which is expanding to include Cheboygan Area High School and Inland Lakes School District.

North Central Michigan College is marking the 10-year anniversary of its Early College program, celebrating a decade of providing Northern Michigan families with an innovative, affordable path to higher education.

Since its launch in 2014, the Early College program has flourished, initially welcoming a cohort of 25 students from Petoskey High School. Today, the program boasts 413 graduates from Petoskey High School, Boyne City High School, and Gaylord High School, all of whom earned their associate degree from North Central at no cost.

Fall 2024 marks another milestone in the program’s history, as students from Cheboygan Area High School and Inland Lakes School District join as NCMC Early College partners.

Admission into Early College follows criteria set by both North Central and participating high schools, with new students starting their journey in the winter semester of their sophomore year. They balance high school classes with college courses, gradually building up to a full associate degree by their fifth year. Coursework is undertaken both at the students' respective high schools and on North Central's Petoskey campus.

Corey Lansing, North Central’s director of admission, reflected on the program’s impact to the region.

“We're incredibly proud of the growth and success of our Early College program and the students who have embraced this fantastic opportunity,” Lansing said. “Early College isn't just about accelerating academic progress; it's about fostering a love for learning and empowering students to realize their full potential.”

Early College graduate Cassidy Leirstein, who now serves as North Central’s dual enrollment coordinator, agrees, calling the program’s growth “incredible.”

“As a high schooler in 2015, I never imagined I would be able to save $55,000 through Early College — savings that helped me finish my college education with minimal debt. Now I’m honored to support students across Northern Michigan to achieve the same goal,” Leirstein said.

For more information about Early College and dual enrollment opportunities, visit our College for High School Students page.