Baker College Initiative Gives High School Students ‘Running Start’ On Earning College Credits

Programs save tuition, time, increase college readiness

A Baker College initiative is increasing emphasis on giving Michigan high school students a running start on their college education. The students earn college credit, at no cost to them, and graduate high school ready for college, careers and community.

The Running Start initiative bundles the state-sanctioned programs that allow high school students to earn college credit — early/middle college, direct credit, dual enrollment and articulation — under one umbrella.

“This change is in response to the considerable increase in the number of secondary school administrators interested in college-credit programs for their students,” said Bart Daig, Ph.D., Baker College System president and CEO. “Our goal with Running Start is to make it easy for administrators to sign up and implement the programs they select.

“As a private, not-for-profit organization, Baker College can be highly flexible. We can quickly adapt and tailor a program to meet the need of an individual school district.”

Baker College has 15 early/middle school colleges operational through its campuses in Allen Park, Auburn Hills, Cadillac, Clinton Twp, Flint, Jackson and Owosso. That number will likely double during the next few months.

Enrollment in Baker College’s concurrent enrollment program is also increasing. An example is the program through Baker College of Cadillac. In 2011, approximately 200 students were participating; today nearly 1,100 in the same area are earning college credit in high school.

The students save hundreds of dollars in tuition and other college costs in Running Start programs because the courses are subsidized by the sponsoring school districts. Credits earned through the programs may also shorten the time required to complete the students’ college education beyond high school.

Another benefit is increasing college readiness, according to Peni Aldrich, Ph.D., director of Running Start.

“High school students introduced to the challenges of college have the support of high school and college resources,” she said. “They will be better prepared to succeed in college after high school.”

The Running Start programs are:

  • Early/middle college is a five-year high school program in which students can earn a high school diploma and substantial college credit – up to 60 credit hours, even an associate degree.
  • Concurrent Enrollment and direct credit offers Baker College courses at a high school, technical center or site other than a Baker College campus. These courses may count for high school or college credit, or both.
  • Dual enrollment allows students to take high school courses at their school and college courses at a Baker College campus.
  • Articulation provides college credit for students who demonstrate skills and competencies learned in designated high school courses in which they received a grade B- or better at participating schools and enter Baker College within 12 months of high school graduation.

“Secondary school administrators are interested in these programs because they understand that earning a postsecondary credential, whether it’s a certificate or doctorate or anything in between, is required in today’s knowledge-based economy,” Aldrich said. “Our Running Start programs provide higher education that’s definitely affordable for more students. When the students gain confidence that they can succeed in college, they will more likely pursue higher education following high school.”

Aldrich said that a big part of the success of these programs lies in choosing students capable of meeting the challenges.

“Selecting students who can handle college curricula is key,” she said. “It is rigorous; these are college courses.”

For more information about Baker College programs that offer high school students a running start on their college education, visit Running Start. Students should contact their high school counselor.

School district administrators interested in partnering with Baker College should contact the Running Start coordinator for the Baker College campus nearest their district:

Allen Park, Auburn Hills, Clinton Township, Flint, Jackson, Owosso, and Port Huron — Peni Aldrich, Ph.D., (810) 766-2087 or [email protected].

Cadillac, Muskegon, and Online — Kelly Smith, Running Start coordinator and Baker College of Cadillac president, (231) 876-3107 or [email protected].


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