Early College Academy prepares for a new round of interviews

Early College Academy is a program recently taken advantage of by Abraham Lincoln High School, along with other Southwest Iowa students in an effort to obtain their associate’s degree before graduating high school. Spencer Mathews has since been the director of this program, aiding students to be successful in ECA.

“Prior to my role as ECA Coordinator, I had 10 years of experience working with college students at Creighton University, Bellevue University, and IWCC,” said Mathews. “When Dr. Murillo created the ECA three years ago, I jumped at the opportunity to build something special from the ground floor.”

Becoming a part of ECA as a high school student allows for a plethora of opportunities and benefits.

“The Early College Academy gives students the opportunity to receive a free, two-year head start on college, which is an enormous financial benefit,” said Mathews. “The cost of college tuition is skyrocketing and many graduates are drowning in student loan debt”

Not only financial aid, but ECA can also provide growth in a student’s GPA.

“Early College Academy students benefit from receiving GPA quality points from every IWCC class they take both their junior and senior years,” said Mathews.“Participating in ECA is a great way to boost your GPA for college applications and scholarships”

Although ECA can be a great experience for students aspiring to achieve their associates degree, Erin Kups weighs in on how it is definitely a different experience than attending school at ALHS.

“It does feel a bit different because activities are now the only reason I go to AL, but it hasn’t limited me” said Kups.

Another ECA junior from AL, Jaccee Tindal, also keeps herself involved in ECA as well as extracurriculars at ALHS.

“I am still very involved at AL with athletics and see people often,” said Tindal.“At Iowa Western I don’t think I’ve gotten the same experience as I would if I started last year just because of the pandemic so I haven’t met very many people but hoping things will be back to normal soon.”

The freedom to be able to stay involved at the high school while also participating in ECA allows for many opportunities for students.

“The ECA is really the best of both worlds because students are still able to participate in extracurricular activities, such as Athletics, Band, Choir, Drama, and Newspaper while earning a free associate’s degree from IWCC during high school,” said Mathews. “ECA students are able to go back-and-forth from IWCC to their high school activities if they so choose.”

Although a relatively new program, has grown immensely, and plans to expand further.

“We’ve come a long way in a relatively short amount of time,” said Mathews. “Although we have more work to do, I’m extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished so far.”