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Students Get a College Head Start Before Graduating High School

May 17th, 2017

A joint message from the Howard County Public School System and Howard Community College:

The first cohort of students in the Early College Program, a unique partnership program between Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) and Howard Community College (HCC), will graduate high school in the coming weeks with up to 40 college credits. The students are part of the HCPSS Applications and Research Laboratory (ARL) Early College Program in cybersecurity. The program celebrated the students and their accomplishments today, prior to students participating in their high school commencement ceremonies over the next few weeks.

“The Early College Program is a terrific way for students to get a jump on college and graduate career-ready,” said Acting HCPSS Superintendent Michael J. Martirano. “This partnership with HCC provides tremendous benefits to students both academically and personally.”

“Students are thriving in the Early College program,” said HCC President Kathleen Hetherington. “They are accelerating their education in a supportive environment created by college and high school faculty, advisors and counselors.”

Students begin the Early College Program in the 10th grade, and take four HCC college courses in the 11th grade at the HCPSS Applications and Research Laboratory. In their senior year, students take all HCC classes on campus. As part of the program, students have opportunities to participate in internship experiences and receive one-on-one support to write a career-ready resume and to prepare for job interviews. This combination of post secondary education, career training and work experience appeals to both students and parents.

“Julian has had these amazing experiences at the age of 16 that she otherwise would not have had until much later in life,” said Lisa Hairston-Jones, mother of Early College Cybersecurity student Julian Jones.

“I have grown so much as an individual and feel like, even though I am young, I have a firm grasp on what my future holds,” said Julian Jones. “I know what I want to do, and I am so focused as a result.”

After high school graduation, the Early College students have the option to spend one more year at HCC and earn an associate degree, or they can apply to a four-year university and take their transcripted credits with them.

In addition to the Early College Program in cybersecurity, HCC and HCPSS have also partnered on Early College STEM, which is for students at Oakland Mills High School who are interested in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The first cohort will attend HCC full time this coming fall semester.

To learn more about the Early College program, visit

Since 1970, Howard Community College (HCC) has been a preferred college choice for students and families in Howard County, Maryland. A public community college, HCC offers associate degree and certificate programs, as well as workforce development training and continuing education classes, to nearly 30,000 credit and noncredit students each year. Learn more at

The Howard County Public School System consistently ranks among Maryland’s top school districts based on student performance. Howard County students score above the national averages on standardized tests and nearly 93 percent of graduates continue their education beyond high school.

Elizabeth S. Homan
Executive Director of Public Relations and Marketing
Howard Community College
443-518-4073 (office)

John White
Director of Communications
Howard County Public School System