The new Early College @ Jones is proving to be more popular with Hall County students than school officials had imagined.
Michele Hood, the coordinator for the early college program, updated school board members this past week on applications, which now number around 250.
While the program was designed for first generation college students, or those who worried they might not be able to afford college after high school graduation, Hood said she has seen interest from students who have surprised her.
"I have one who has applied [for Early College @ Jones] who is a top 10 in her high school, but she's so nervous about going to college, that she didn't think that she was going to go," Hood said. "So this is a child...who needed that bridge, that needs that support."
The collaborative program between the Hall County School District, Lanier Technical College and the University of North Georgia will allow students to take college classes with college professors without stepping foot on a college campus. Instead, they will be transported by bus from their home schools to the Jones campus during the first part of the day to take the higher ed classes. [Note: The school district has applied for and received a transportation grant for the bus transport to an from the early college campus.]
Hood told school board members on Monday that of all the students who had applied for the program, only three had ever tested for college. So, she has spent a good bit of her time working with students on test preparation. This past week, in fact, students who had applied for Lanier Tech classes took their COMPASS tests for placement.
Hood also played a video for the board members with two students who had applied for the early college program, both of whom will be first generation college students.
One of them, who plans to study animation and game design at Lanier Tech, said without Early College @ Jones, she would have been "going in blind," as she put it.
"This is just the perfect segue to integrate from high school to college and help you go on the right course - not just going to college, but for your career in general," she said.
The campus - located at the old Jones Elementary School in Chicopee - should be completely renovated by May. Students will attend their first classes on the campus in fall semester 2016.