PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — Imagine graduating from high school with a two-year college degree in hand. That’s what will happen for hundreds of Prince George’s County students.

Gigi Barnett shows us how the state’s early college program works.

Dissecting frogs in Biology 101 begins in high school for these ninth graders in Prince George’s County. They’re students at the Academy of Health and Sciences at Prince George’s Community College. It’s one of Maryland’s most successful early college programs.

“Sometimes you have to take a chance and grow up,” said Joelle Mason.

Instead of going to a traditional high school, Mason got in to the rigorous program. Over the next four years, she’ll take high school and general education courses at PG Community College. When she graduates, school leaders will hand her a diploma and an Associate’s Degree.

But the program is only geared for students who want to go into science, technology, engineering and math—also called STEM careers.

Gone are the school sponsored clubs, proms and field trips.

“In the end, it’s a better opportunity,” said Mason.

By the time these students reach the 11th grade, they’ll be fully integrated in college courses. When they reach a four-year university, they’ll hit the ground running.

It’s why Governor Martin O’Malley visited the students Wednesday. He’s pushing for more early college classes statewide and boosting the program’s budget to do it. He says it’s a cost-cutting measure for students and parents in the long run.

“We have to do a better job of maximizing our resources and giving our kids a better shot of getting to college,” said O’Malley.

Governor O’Malley plans to spend $2 million to get the program to other community colleges.

There is a wait list at PG Community College.


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