Early to College students attend Penn State Mont Alto classes at their high school

Early to College

Local high school students have benefitted for years from taking Early to College classes at Penn State Mont Alto. 

However, physical distance has prevented some students in neighboring school districts from enjoying the same education opportunities.  In response to a need expressed by four south central Pennsylvania school district administrators, Penn State Mont Alto is now taking its unrivaled academic excellence off-campus and directly to the student.

“I believe this endeavor is a tangible demonstration of Penn State Mont Alto’s commitment to collaborate with K-12 in innovative ways to serve students,” said Francis K. Achampong, Penn State Mont Alto chancellor. “This is a model that I would like to see replicated in the other more-distant school districts we serve.”

The Early to College onsite program delivers college-level courses at Carlisle High School to high school juniors and seniors from a consortium of high schools including Big Spring, Carlisle, South Middleton, and Bermudian Springs school districts.  Not only do students earn college credit, but they also receive high school credit for passing their courses.  In addition, tuition in Penn State Mont Alto’s Early to College program is reduced. Through a unique University scholarship, Early to College students pay half the price of regular tuition.

Although these students are part-time and off-campus, they still enjoy all the benefits and resources available to any Penn State student.

“I think the class gives them a taste of the expectations and the level of thinking that’s required for a college course,” said John McGinley, Penn State Mont Alto English instructor.

Classes are offered in a blended format with classroom instruction provided by a Penn State faculty member once a week, as well as an online component.  The professors teaching at the high school are committed to ensuring that class content is engaging and relevant to the high school experience.

“This is a tremendous opportunity,” said Big Spring School District Assistant Superintendent Kevin Roberts. “Any time students can be exposed to new coursework, greater rigor, or experiences beyond the four walls of our high school, it’s time well spent.”

Another nice feature of the program is the portability of the college credits, he said. As one of the nation’s largest and most widely recognized institutions, Penn State Mont Alto credits are universally transferable.

For Carlisle High School junior Sariah Grant enrolling in the program just made sense. She’ll complete her first college-level class soon and then plans to begin another immediately thereafter. Both Grant and her parents believe taking college classes while in high school will ease the transition between high school and college.

“If you want to be ready for college and at least have an idea of what college classes are going to be like, take Early to College,” Grant said.