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College of Eastern Idaho launched two new early college programs this year to help local high school students earn credits before they graduate.

Two students are enrolled in the medical assisting program that began this fall, but none have signed up for the machine tool technology program. Both programs allowed up to four students to begin taking classes with the college. Students who join the early college programs have to commit to attending the college and completing the program after high school.

“Because they take early classes, they’re already ahead of the game when they enter into college,” student transition coordinator Tonya Tracy said.

Advanced Opportunity Funds cover the $75 cost per credit for current high school students, though they still pay for books and other supplies. After the second year, students pay for their own classes and will be placed in an externship to earn experience with their career during a short-term placement during the summer of 2021.

Medical assisting is a combination of nurse training and secretarial work, with training to handle basic medical exams and testing as well as front-desk work for clinics.

One of the two high school students in the program is 17-year-old Jasa Bell from Blackfoot. She began taking medical classes at Bingham Academy last year and was excited to get an early start on a future medical career by signing up for the college program. This year, she drives into Idaho Falls four days a week to attend morning classes on administrative skills and medical ethics.

“I like being in a college atmosphere because we can get into heavier topics, especially in my ethics class,” Bell said.

CEI allows students in its early college programs to take general education courses along with their areas of focus. Bell is taking a few of those courses as well and will only need a few more credits next semester to have a full year of courses completed before she starts college.

Tracy said that no students had applied for the machine tool technology program, which trains students to set up and operate metal-making machines.

Contact Brennen with news tips at 208-542-6711.