About 40 percent of Mississippi's ninth-graders don't make it to graduation day, and studies show those dropouts are more likely to earn less money, depend on government aid and be incarcerated than those who stay in school.
In South Mississippi, those dropouts will have more options when the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College begins Transitions Academy in August, where they can earn a GED and college credits in two career fields.
"When they finish the academy in one semester, they will have completed their GED certification, will receive their first semester of college credit in a career or technical program, and will have industry certification that will help them get a job," Becky Layton, director of Adult Basic Education, said in a statement.
The classes, which run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for one semester, are free to those who qualify. Students must be at least 18, state residents and test at a seventh-grade level. Those with the highest scores will be given priority entrance into the program.
Classes in welding and early-childhood education will be offered starting Aug. 21 at the West Harrison County Center, but the college hopes to add catering services and business and office technology courses in January. A second academy is planned in Jackson County.
Orientations will be held in July and August.
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