Mercer County Community College’s Trenton Campus currently operates several programs with the Trenton Public School system, including Talent Search and the Upward Bound Program. These partnerships could potentially be expanded or enhanced to offer greater opportunities for high school students to learn about higher education, access mentors, or enroll in college level courses. By expanding educational offerings at MCCC’s Trenton campus, including its connections to high school students, Trenton youth will have more easily accessible opportunities for higher education and occupational training and be better prepared to meet employer demands.
The School Board should investigate a partnership with Mercer County Community College to offer a 4+1 curriculum for occupational certifications and/or associates degrees. This program would allow students to complete 4 years of secondary school and then receive an occupational certificate or associates degree after completing only one more year of post-secondary education. The School Board may begin this investigation by first studying similar partnerships in other school systems. Trenton Public Schools could then develop its own 4+1 curriculum, modeling itself after successful programs nationwide . The School Board should choose a single academic focus, aligned with target industries, to pilot their 4 + 1 program. By focusing on a singular academic track, the School Board can ensure the success of the program by tailoring students’ focus of study with a reliable industry. This pilot program would be most successful if created in close partnership with Mercer County Community College and if it taps the resources of local community based organizations that can provide supportive services and guidance while students go through the program and after when they are entering the job market.