Future of Early College Around the NEK

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earlycollegeAROUND THE NEK - While the majority of people in the community were worried about several Vermont state colleges closing down, one high school senior felt the impact in a different way.

Willow Schaefer, a senior at Blue Mountain Union School in Groton, VT organized a private zoom call to speak with State Representative and VSCS Trustee, Dylan Giambatista about the future of early college programs at Lyndon, Johnson and VTC campuses.


Early college allows motivated high school seniors to complete their high school graduation requirements while taking classes and earning college credits.

"I've always been a huge supporter, I think any opportunity that we can offer students in those crucial years where you're coming up and sort of identifying what it is that sparks creativity, what is that's your passion and your interest, putting that into the hands of students is really powerful" said Giambatista

Giambatisita is a Johnson College Alum and serves on the House Committee on Education.

For many students just like Madison, early college is not simply a want, it is a need, "I chose the early college program not only because I needed it financially, but because I needed the challenge. I finished all of my high school credits my sophomore year. I was full-time dual enrollment with CCV my junior year, but then I transferred to Lyndon to get in-person instruction, and it was the best choice I ever made!," said Madison.

Following the news of Chancellor Jeb Spaulding's withdrawal to shutdown Johnson, Lyndon and VTC Randolph, the focus of the conversation shifted. Madison and students alike want to ensure that their early college programs have a future and continue to be a resource for high school students in the state.

This program has proven to be invaluable as it sets students on their way to exploring a career path. "I'm currently a Secondary Education major, and I'm going to stay in this field. I'm mainly going to focus on getting my certificate in ESL and TEFL instruction as well as getting certified to teach Political Science and Literature," said Schaefer.

For Schaefer, early college programs are not targeted to one area "Early college it just prevails as such an important program...and that's part of the reason I wanted to advocate for it because I know it's not just important for my high school, I know it is very important for the entire Northeast Kingdom and Orange County."

Internet availability is often an obstacle for students in Vermont who are taking online classes at various institutions.

When asked if there will be any changes to ensure the success of early college programs moving forward, Giambatista says, "We have looked a lot at dual enrollment and early opportunities at colleges and I think that piece you identified particularly about broadband connectivity is a concern for me...we oughta start thinking about what are the technological barriers."

High school students and institutes of higher education in Vermont such as Johnson, Lyndon, VTC and CCV all rely on having a mutual partnership that ultimately benefits everyone.

"A great example of what makes a state college so great is they have these collaborations...If changes were to come in the future it's a question we oughta keep and we oughta keep on the front burner in the legislature, because I know for a fact in hard times it's easy to say we're only gonna do what we have to do, K-12 education no extras, but here's the thing, we made a commitment in this state about a decade ago to expand on learning opportunities for students and the idea was to level the playing field," said Giambatista.

As for Schaefer, her plans for life after college are quite simple, "My main plans for the future are just to be able to settle down, get a good job, and start a family. I"ve always been a simple person, and I like to appreciate the little things in life."

The Zoom meeting was recorded and can be found on the "Protest Vermont State Colleges" Facebook page.

For more info on the early college program at Lyndon and Johnson Campuses visit https://www.northernvermont.edu/admissions-and-aid/students/early-college-students. and for VTC visit https://www.vtc.edu/academics/vermont-academy-science-technology-vast