E/MC Overview

Students can get a head start on college and their career by earning an associate degree or certificate for FREE, while still in high school through the Berrien County 5th Year Early/Middle College program. Tuition, books, and fees are provided at no cost to students and families.

Students are given the opportunity to earn both a high school diploma and a college degree and/or certificate. Program participants take college classes during 11th and 12th grades, and then attend college full time during “grade 13,” or the 5th year of high school to complete the program. Students apply for the program during their sophomore year of high school.

Save money. The national average cost of attending a four-year public college is more than $28,000 per year. By starting college while in high school, participants could cut college costs in half. 

Get a head start on a career. Whether students earn a career certificate or an associate degree, they will advance through their educational path and start their career years faster than a traditional educational program. 

Transition smoothly to four-year colleges. Lake Michigan College (LMC) and Southwestern Michigan College (SMC) participate in the state-wide Michigan Transfer Agreement and has individual transfer agreements with universities throughout Michigan and Indiana.

Students will have access to academic support services through their high school, the 5th Year Early/Middle College Program Consultant and college support service offices.

Early/Middle Colleges are expressly designed to create more college opportunities for the underserved, underrepresented, underachieving student.

Lake Michigan College

Associate of Arts/Transfer

General Transfer (MTA)

Associate of APPLIED Science/Transfer

Criminal Justice
Engineering Tech
General Studies
Hospitality Management
Manufacturing/Machine Tool*
Computer Information* Systems (CIS)
-Applications Development
Career Certificates
Medical Assisting

*Technical Certificates Available

Southwestern Michigan College

Associate of APPLIED Science/Transfer

Automotive Technology*
Construction Trades Green Technology*
Fire Science*
Sports Management
*Technical Certificates Available
Technical Certificates

College Association (MEMCA) Certificate 

*Additional programs may be available in the future.

Students will attend classes at either their high school, a Berrien County Career & Technical Education PA 56 shared-time programs or on the campuses of Lake Michigan College or Southwestern Michigan College.

Absolutely! Support systems like the Summer College Success Bootcamp, Early/Middle College monthly cohort meetings and mentors, plus all the regular advising, tutoring, and library services from your high school, LMC and SMC will help students be successful.

Students who elect to enroll in the Berrien County 5th Year Early/Middle College commit to:

  • Attend a mandatory week-long Summer College Success Bootcamp during summer vacation. 
  • Successfully complete college course work in their junior and senior years of high school and attend one additional year of high school on a college campus (in order to complete both your high school and college degree/certificate requirements).
  • Extend their high school graduation date by one school year. Students will, however, participate in commencement with their original graduating class.
  • Students will graduate from high school with a high school diploma and significant college credits, a career certificate, an associate degree or a MEMCA Certificate.

EMC Logo

Contact Information

Early/Middle College Consultant
Melissa Springsteen 
(269) 471-7725, ext. 3304 

Students and their families may also contact their local high school counselor/guidance office. 

2020-21 5th Year Early/Middle College Leadership Team:

Marla Clark
Dean, Health Sciences
Lake Michigan College

Dr. Ken Flowers
Dean, Career & Workforce Education
Lake Michigan College

Kelly Gaideski
Director, Curriculum
St. Joseph Public Schools

Kari Haskins
Bridgman High School

Gerald Heath
High School Principal
Bridgman High School

Chris Machiniak
Regional Director, Career & Technical Education
Berrien RESA

Dr. Gary Roberts
Dean, Arts and Sciences
Lake Michigan College

Jason Smith
Executive Director
Southwestern Michigan College, Niles Campus

Melissa Springsteen
Consultant, 5th Year Early/Middle College
Berrien RESA

Leslie Kellogg
Provost and Vice President, Academic Affairs
Lake Michigan College

Brian Howard
Manager of Dual Enrolled Student Success
Southwestern Michigan College

Heather Zile
Director of Community Outreach
Southwestern Michigan College

Rita Wise
Director of Early College Partnerships
Lake Michigan College