Muncie IN schools offers free liberal arts degree from Ivy Tech

Early college initiative part of new Central High freshman curriculum 

By Rick Yencer

MUNCIE, INDIANA (NEWS) - An associate liberal arts education will be offered at the consolidated Muncie Central High School in 2014-15 thanks to a partnership with Ivy Tech Community College.

That means an incoming freshman can earn up to 60 hours for an associate degree that will transfer to Ivy Tech, Ball State or other public colleges.

Muncie Superintendent Tim Heller and Ivy Tech Chancellor Andrew Bowne announced the initiative this week as part of the public school's initiative to continue as a premiere and full service education that includes a technical career center.

 College prep courses are nothing new for Indiana schools, but the offer of an associate's degree valued at $16,500 is a recent effort by Ivy Tech to provide early college and secure more students for advanced degrees.

Muncie schools has talked with Ivy Tech, Ball State and Vincennes about early college and decided on Ivy Tech with campuses in Muncie, Anderson and Marion.

Heller said the program offered a tremendous asset to families and student and could help retain students in the local workforce.

recent studies found Indiana's workforce aging and others dropping out because of a slow economy and fewer jobs.

And Muncie schools just lost some students because of consolidation and a new charter school starting in Muncie, and officials have been looking at ways to attract more families back into the system.

Heller insisted Muncie schools was competitive with its full service program that included technical training besides early college.

The associate degree would cover most general studies college requirements and also ensure college placement in the growing competition of higher education.

Ten Indiana schools have the early college program of an associate's degree, and Muncie has about 400 students taking college prep courses. 

When the schools consolidate, there also will be enough teachers with higher education certificates to handle more students who want the degree.

Heller anticipated no extra expense to taxpayers or parents for the early college program.

Other Delaware County schools offer early college but not the associate degree now provided by Ivy Tech.