Middle college: Prince George's county fast-tracks high school students

Dozens of high school students in Prince George's county are getting ahead of the curve. This school year, they are taking courses on the community college campus. By the time they graduate in 2015, they'll have a high school diploma and an associate’s degree.

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Within four years, students receive both degrees. A hundred students took an entrance exam in middle school to qualify. That is not the only consideration.

“Fifty percent of the students are free and reduced lunch, and they also represent first-generation college students,” said Mara Doss of the community college.

Toria Hawkins will be among the first class in Maryland to enroll in this type of program, called a middle college. Her program will focus on the health sciences and incorporate college and high school-level courses.

“I love psychology and I want to be a psychiatrist when I get older,” the 14-year-old said.

Prince George's county public schools partnered with the college to give students a jump-start.

“We're doing our part to create a pipeline if you will, in the health sciences are for students who come out of our school system and want to go into college to continue their studies or straight into the work world,” said the schools’ superintendent Dr. William Hite.

“I feel like I’m going to go to a university,” said student Jonathan Hernandez.

The courseload is expected to be rigorous but it won't be introduced all at once.

“By years three and four, the students will be enrolled in the community college classes with other students who are in the community college,” said Richard-Andrews.

“I know there will be difficulties, but the big picture in the end will be worth it,” student-to-be Hawkins said.

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