You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 5:45 a.m.

Deadline coming up for high school students to apply to Early College Alliance at EMU

By Lisa Carolin

High school students interested in the Early College Alliance at Eastern Michigan University need to get their applications turned in this week. The deadline for dropping off applications is Wednesday, Jan.16. The deadline for mailed applications is Jan. 18.

The ECA program is designed to immerse high school-aged students from nearly every Washtenaw County school district into a post-secondary learning environment located on the campus of EMU.

Students can earn college credits while still in high school, and it gives them a chance to enroll in college-level courses. They can earn up to 60 college credits.


Students listen to a teacher during classes at the Early College Alliance, located on the campus of Eastern Michigan University.

Photo courtesy of EMU

The program is open to students who will be in 10th or 11th grade. Students will earn their high school diploma from the district where they are enrolled.

The program is aimed at students looking for something beyond the typical high school experience, something more rigorous, said David Dugger, director of the Early College Alliance Program and of educational options for the Washtenaw Intermediate School District.

"The underlying philosophy is to prepare students to be successful college students," said Dugger. "Our goal is to create self-sustaining learners."

The ECA Program gets 95 percent per student of what the school district gets as part of each district's foundation allowance.

Students in the program can still participate in sports and other activities in their home school district while enrolled in the program. The ECA program does not offer transportation or lunch.

ECA accepts 140 students per year and has a total of 425 students. Dugger said the program is at capacity, and there are no plans to expand it. It has existed since 2007.

Each school district that participates in ECA has an allocation of slots for students based on the size of the school district. The Saline and Dexter school districts do not participate in ECA, but students in those districts can enroll through schools of choice.



Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 4:11 a.m.

This is a wonderful program. The ECA staff are incredible, and are truly dedicated to helping each student find a path that works for them. My son will graduate from high school this year after 3 years in ECA. He'll have close to 60 college credits from EMU when he graduates high school. There is NO cost to us - not tuition, not textbooks, nothing. Unlike taking AP classes in a traditional high school setting, he has been in regular college classes with regular college students for more than two years, now. He participates in campus clubs and really appreciates the difference in social atmosphere between college and high school. This program has given him wonderful opportunities to grow, both intellectually and socially. I really can't say enough good things about ECA. We count ourselves lucky that the program exists, and that our son has had this opportunity.


Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 2:22 p.m.

Is it a scam? Like WTMC, it's a good opportunity for students to get some college credit under their belt. It's especially beneficial to families who would struggle with college tuition. I understand your point about AP classes, however, I have also attended orientation meetings at UofM where I hear them say not all AP classes are up to the same standards as the college classes that they teach and they actually discourage some students from using those credits; encouraging them instead to take the 100 level classes. Then again, maybe that is just UofM wanting the money.... In any case, I am not sure if this is true of the Early College Alliance, but at WTMC the students are essentially college students and have to schedule their own classes, maintain relationships, grades and attendance independently. So besides the academic learning, they are also learning how to function in a college environment which can only help them if they choose to pursue a 4 year degree.


Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 2:07 p.m.

#mgoscottie: Do you realize that the ECA students have the opportunity to earn 60 college credits while on the path to graduating from high school? I've had the pleasure of seeing many students get two years of "free college" and then continue and get their degrees. For many, who are the first in their families to even attend college, much less get a degree, ECA provided an opportunity probably unavailable otherwise. Many forget that this program started exclusively with the districts on the east side of the county to provide opportunities for low-income students. Dave Dugger and his staff have done an excellent job encouraging and motivating students to be successful. We need more "scams" like this.


Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 12:01 p.m.

This program is a scam that takes high school funds and diverts them to emu for the whole purpose of the district sounding good. There is no difference between ap except eastern gets paid and the district still does everything in the majority of cases.


Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 4:21 a.m.

This is not a scam. I don't know what you mean when you say "the district still does everything." ECA students do NOT take classes in their home districts; they are 100% at EMU from day one. My son is in ECA and we did school of choice because the district we lived in didn't participate. He will graduate high school with a degree from his school of choice district (and close to 60 college credits from EMU), but other than that, he has never attended a single day of anything in that district. They did nothing for him but they did get his foundation grant money for the three years in which he was their student on paper (and that's ok). As for AP - my son took AP classes at his former school before joining ECA, and did well enough on exams to get college credits. I have no complaint with AP. However, that experience was nothing like the experiences he has had at EMU via ECA. In academic terms, EMU classes require more from him and give him a much broader menu to choose from. In social terms, there is just a world of difference between taking an AP class with a bunch of other high school kids, vs. taking a college class as an equal with other college students. AP is a fine program too, but it isn't the same thing as college. And, by the way, AP is expensive (for individuals and for districts). ECA costs individuals and districts nothing.

Brenda Kerr

Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 1:54 p.m.

This program is the best thing to happen to my daughter. She was a Skyline student. Not challenged in any of her classes and not happy with the high school experience. Put a bunch of high school kids on a college campus and you get a tight knit group who hang out together even after thay are all taking EMU classes. Plus students have more possibility to explore areas not offered in high school. Astronomy, film, philosophy, and international relations are some classes my daughter has taken. And students can take a fifth year without penalty if they need it to complete 60 college credits. And that is the true value. 60 college credits at high school graduation. Accepted by U of M, MIT, and other institutions.


Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 1:46 p.m.

It's quite the opposite. The charges back to the district are significantly less than the money that the district receives from the state. In reality the district provides minimal service and earns money in the exchange.