Students and alumni’s insight on early college


Ciara Phonsana

 Kyndel Norsouvanh, scrolls on her laptop, applying for esthetician school with no tension at 20-years-old, while other 20-year-olds are still going through college trying to get the position Norsouvanh has. Norsouvanh is ahead of the game and she has received her associate’s degree two years earlier than the average. Wondering how this is possible? The answer is early college.              

   West Ottawa offers students participation in the South Ottawa County Early College (SOCEC) program in partnership with Muskegon Community College. SOEC is designed to prepare students for the rigors of a top-tier university and the demands of the workplace once they graduate. SOCEC allows students to extend high school by one year to earn both their diploma and up to 62 college credits from Muskegon Community College (MCC) at no cost to the student. 

West Ottawa alumni experiences

Kyndel Norsouvanh is a graduate of MCC.  Norsouvanh has found a great amount of success in the SOCEC program. She is currently training to become a professional esthetician at The Salon Professional Academy. Receiving her associate’s degree put Rain in a jump start ahead of the rest. 

Norsouvanh said it was hard to balance work, high school, college & taekwondo at once. She didn’t have time for herself, and it was mentally challenging to do so many things at once. 

   “I didn’t have a real college experience (no dorm or anything) but doing early college helped me realize what I wanted to do in life, which is pursuing a different career field, rather than just settling for general business or business administration,” Norsouvanh said. 

  Despite the minor obstacles Norsouvanh has faced, she has received a great number of positive experiences with the program. She said the program helped her with time management skills, responsibility, organization, overcoming obstacles, and gaining more knowledge and opportunities.

    “I’d say the program helped me get ahead of the career I have now. If I just finished high school and gone to college after, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’d just be stuck in a college class still trying to figure out my major and what I wanted in life. I have done nothing with my degree, but it was nice to have the college classes and gain the knowledge I did. I was able to differentiate my likes and dislikes about college. I’m now learning to be a skin therapist, rather than just doing business because I didn’t know what else to do.’’ Norsouvanh said. 

Katrina Inthavong is a graduate of MCC. Inthavong joined the program with no hesitation. She knew what she wanted to do and did it. Inthavong found great success with the SOCEC program. 

   Inthavong struggled with juggling working a part-time job, being a student-athlete, and taking college and high school classes. She said it was really tough and a lot of work. 

   “Mr. Naber was my seminar teacher, and he reminded me to not forget I’m a high school student since I was juggling so much at the time. “Inthavong said. 

Inthavong has struggled with time management in the program, but she knew what she was getting herself into. Inthavong was a determined and motivated student, which brought her many significant achievements. 

   “The program brought me great success only because I knew what I wanted to go to school for. I would recommend students to only do the program if they know what school they want to go to and know the career they want. I know a handful of people in my program that completed the program, and went to college afterward and had to do the full four years again because they didn’t know what career they wanted while in the program. I at least know I wanted to go into Business and Marketing and eventually figured out that I wanted to go to Western, so I was able to get my Bachelors of Business Administration at 20.”Inthavong said. 

Current student experiences

 Jr. Mariah Stewart is a first-year SOCEC student.

 Stewart joined the program to not only receive a sneak peek into what college was like, but to get ahead in college credits for free and to challenge herself by taking college courses. Stewart is working to become a civil rights lawyer. Early college allows Stewart to get prerequisites and required classes out of the way for free. Stewart’s future career requires a lot of school, but the program pushes her ahead of the game. 

Stewart has faced slight inconveniences with the program. She struggled with adjusting to college courses. Taking college courses as a Junior is difficult, but Stewart pushes through the difficulties. 

“When adjusting to college courses, it’s important to understand how to learn and study in them. I think it’s important to communicate with your instructor and find friends in your classes. I highly encourage students to sign up for Early College. You don’t have to be Einstein to do Early College! I am an A and B student and have struggled in classes before. MCC has so many resources to help you succeed and they want you to succeed as well. WO students are lucky to have this amazing opportunity!” Stewart said. 

Stewart feels better prepared for when she transitions to being a full-time college student. The program is helping her work on time management skills and getting to know the “unspoken rules” and etiquette in college. 

“Early College allows me to get most gen eds out of the way for free! I can take college courses that interest me and have to do with my future career. I am also able to build relationships with others which will help with networking and finding jobs.” Stewart said. 

 Jr. Alisa Boeve is a first-year SOCEC student. 

Boeve joined the program to save money, receive her associate’s degree early, and for her parents. The Boeve family strongly encouraged Boeve to join. Boeve felt obligated to join the program because of her parents. At first, she was doubtful about the program, the commitment and motivation has to be 100%. Now she is thanking her parents for introducing early college. Boeve plans to become a forensic psychologist. 

 “The program has benefited me so far by getting me ready for the future and giving me classes to get my credits. I worry about college, so this experience will help me overcome my fear. Early college is helping me with my future job because when I am finished with the program I will get my associate’s degree in science and art. It gives me a step and saves a lot of money for the future. The classes are pretty challenging and some of the professors are not so nice, so that sucks, but my experience is pretty good and I think anyone should take this opportunity and get ready for the future.” Boeve said. 

   While each individual shared their experiences, they gave the same message. Early college certainly isn’t easy, but with motivation and good time management, it is possible. If interested in the program, click  for more information.