NEPTUNE TOWNSHIP - Some students in Neptune Township will be among the first in the state to have the opportunity to earn a college associate's degree while still in high school.

Mydeara Harbour plans to apply for the new program offered next September by Neptune Township High School and Brookdale Community College.

"It puts them on the fast tract to complete their degree," says Brookdale Dean Anita Boogt. "Gives them an opportunity they may never had had before."

A group of 25 eigth-graders will be selected for Poseidon Early College High School, which will be self-contained on the first and second floors of Neptune's Board of Education building, where Brookdale currently rents out space.

Neptune Superintendent David Mooij says to qualify, students must be the first in their family to attend college. "The hope is that with the high school diploma and an associate's degree in liberal arts that these students will continue in a four-year school."

Students will take some classes at Brookdale during their junior year in high school. As seniors, they'll be on the college campus full time.

Brookdale students say having younger classmates may pose some challenges. "I'm sure it will bother some people," says Chris Dowling. "Some people have problems with everything but personally, it doesn't matter to me."

Neptune eigth-grader Teddy Martin admits the age difference will take getting used to, but the 13-year-old says it won't stop him from applying. Trying for a free program that would save his mother tens of thousands of dollars on college he says is a no-brainer.