Taking the first step to college

By Kirtland Community College

A new program at a Michigan college promotes a college-going culture at an early age.

It’s never too early to start planning for college. Michigan’s Kirtland Community College is helping students get college-ready before high school with its new Path to Success program.

In December, Kirtland welcomed 19 seventh-grade students into the program with an induction ceremony. The students are part of the first cohort of the program, which helps local students reach their highest potential.

Path to Success serves students from seventh through twelfth grade. It promotes cultural awareness, academic achievement, social development and well-rounded learning. The curriculum and programming is designed to broaden horizons, advise and mentor, help students develop new skills and improve overall school performance. Through mentoring and interactions with college personnel and students, students gain invaluable insight into higher education and career development.

“As we’re aiming to strengthen our region it’s important to invest our students early so they can clearly see all the possible careers paths they could take,” David Lepper, director of the Kirtland Foundation, said. “Many of these kids would be first-generation college students, and now they’re learning key skills and having unique experiences that will set them up for success later on.”

The seventh-grade students will learn about character building, teamwork skills and cultural enrichment through Kirtland Community College campus visits, museum tours, plays, restaurants, trips to the state capitol and more.

“This is incredibly eye opening for the students,” shared Kaye Metcalf, the mother of two sisters in the program. “They’re experiencing things that they wouldn’t be able to otherwise, and showing them the potential that exists for their futures. That’s powerful.”

Extending through twelfth grade, the program has various programming focused on volunteerism and service learning, college preparation and job readiness. Students are nominated for Path to Success by school counselors, based on need and academic performance.

The program’s funding was provided by an anonymous donor who wanted to see a program that enhanced academic and cultural opportunities for students in the area. After completing the program, students will have the chance to apply for special scholarships from the Kirtland Foundation. High school seniors will also receive additional help applying for college, finding funding opportunities, managing time and finances and more.

Kirtland Community College

is located in Roscommon County, Michigan.