Early Middle College gives students a competitive edge

The Hillsdale County Early/Middle College moves ahead in its second year. From 20 students in its first cohort class, it has grown with over 60 new students this year, for more than 83 students enrolled.

In the HCEMC, beginning in the 11th grade, students may complete high school requirements and enroll in college classes. After 12th grade, students will attend the fifth year, earning both a high school diploma and at least 15 college credits.


Today’s employers look for more than just job skills in their workers. They are also seeking soft skills – qualities that help employees work well together and enhance productivity. According to Early/Middle College gives students a competitive edge a CareerBuilder survey, 77 percent of employers believe that soft skills are just as important as “hard” skills in evaluating candidates for a job.

Helping students prepare for working with others while working at a job’s specific tasks, HCEMC has developed a credentialing process. In addition to academic studies, soft skills are explored and taught. Each Friday, students gather at the LeTarte Center for colloquiums on soft skills and positive habits of mind. Topics include self-awareness, developing relationships, qualities of a leader, emotional intelligence, self control and empathy. They give three speeches to help them build their communications skills.

“Seeing the growth in students in such a short time has been exciting,” said Sara Cornell, student success navigator. “I think the chance for students from all school districts in Hillsdale County to come together and work on building skills, as well as have the opportunity to share about their experiences, has provided an innovative avenue for learning.”

Student Hanna Wines enjoys the opportunity to get to know other students more. “I think they do help all of the students because we do speeches a lot, so it helps with our public speaking. Also, we get to interact with the other students more, so we can talk about our different experiences, credentialing and classes.”