Co-op opportunities are usually a good way to go, while in school, if you can line them up. As noted, even if starting out as a sysadmin in such an arrangement, it opens doors, and starts to introduce you to how folks think, in the IT world, and you start to make connections into other areas, as well.
As for the associate program with isc2, I can't say, as I haven't personally gone that route, but I'm sure others here likely have, although gaining some experience, at least, would generally be my recommendation.
On the flip side, if you like self study, look into CBT training videos and books, and gather even USED equipment, to start building up a lab. May take time, as with school, I know side money doesn't come easily. But in the end, if you can do simulations for yourself, and grow outside of just your normal classwork, etc, it'll benefit you in the end.
~ hayabusa ~
"All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer,
but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved."
- Sun Tzu, 'The Art of War'
OSCE, OSCP (Former - GPEN, C|EH - both expiring / expired)