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More than 500 express interest in Hall's Early College program
UNG, Lanier Tech offering courses at Jones campus beginning in August
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Early College information meeting

Who: For parents and students

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Hall County School District office, 711 Green St., Gainesville

Plans for Hall County’s Early College @ Jones are moving quickly. More than 530 high school students expressed an interest in the program, and formal applications are due today. The program will start in August when school begins.

The Early College, which will be in the former Sylvester Jones Elementary School, will provide academic courses through the University of North Georgia, academic and certificate programs through Lanier Technical College or a combination.

College professors will teach the courses at the Jones campus.

Terry Sapp, Hall County’s high schools school improvement specialist, said the interest “exceeds the expectation we had.”

The county has planned for 100 to 125 students to be part of the program. But Sapp is quick to say additional classes can be, and will be, accommodated if needed.

“I would say we could accommodate practically anyone who is available,” she said.

“The hard part” of being eligible for the program starts with the application, Sapp said. In addition to the application, students must take the SAT for the University of North Georgia program or Compass for Lanier Technical College. Those tests will be free if students first take a test prep course.

Students in ninth through 12th grades are eligible for Lanier Tech courses; juniors and seniors are eligible for UNG classes.

UNG classes will include English, algebra and statistics, but students also can take eCore courses online, taught by University System of Georgia faculty.

Academic courses such as English, algebra and public speaking also will be offered through Lanier Tech, plus certificate programs in design and media production, animation and game design or medical front office assistant.

The academic courses also will count as high school credits, Sapp noted.

The Early College program will have two attributes that are not available in other college credit programs — free transportation to and from high schools and additional support for students. That support includes advising, tutoring, specific career counseling and access to professors.

Sapp noted the program seeks to help two groups of students: Those who “want to go but can’t” — they are interested in college but don’t have transportation — and kids who “never think they can go to college.”

Sapp said the county schools want to encourage kids “who may have never considered ever trying a college-level course.”

If a student tries a course and passes, he or she is “likely to try another — and another,” she said.

Students will go to Early College every day — even when they are not in the courses. She said UNG classes will be Monday, Wednesday and Friday and Lanier Tech classes will be Monday through Thursday.

The “off” days will be for students to get that extra help. Students have to learn “scheduling time to do what’s necessary to prepare for class,” Sapp said. “We’re trying to provide a structure for them to get ready (for college).”

Michele Hood, who is certified in English and math, has been hired as the coordinator for Early College and another half-time position will be filled, Sapp said.

In addition, the Jones building “is very close to ready,” Sapp said.

Aaron Turpin, executive director for technology for the school district, said computer-related work is still to be done. The system has approved $300,000 from Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax IV to pay for the computer network, wiring, server and hardware, he said.

“It’s about giving them choices to help them meet their goals,” Sapp said about the new program.