How Early College High School Programs Work

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Are you a student or parent who likes to plan and work ahead as much as possible? What if we told you there was a way for high school students to both get their regular diploma AND earn college credit at the same time, for no extra cost?

Early college high school programs offer students the ability to earn both their high school diploma and actual college credit simultaneously.

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early college high school

Early College High Schools

These are an option for students looking to work far in advance for college.

These schools provide interested students both:

  • High school degree
  • A two-year associate’s degree
  • Or approximately two year’s worth of bachelor’s degree credit.

All of those credits can be earned during a normal four year high school period.

These schools are different from vocational schools in that they don’t prepare students for a specific trade after graduation. Moreover, unlike college preparatory schools, these programs offer actual college courses for credit.

The following Early College High School pros and cons are worth reviewing if you have a student at home who is pursuing a specific college major. Some programs can let students enter as early as eighth grade or as late as junior year.

Early College High School Pros

Here are some valid reasons to take on this challenge:

College Tuition Reduction – One immediate benefit to consider is reduced tuition payments. Because these schools offer the ability to earn college credits in high school, that means there’s less money to spend later on.

While parents and students need to apply to their local program, there’s normally no associated cost whatsoever. It’s literally saving at least one to two years of tuition money.

Individual Coaching – Many early college high school programs offer extra help to ensure their students thrive. Such help includes:

  • Additional tutoring
  • Guidance from college professors.

Because these programs also have smaller classes on average, students normally receive additional one-on-one time with instructors in the first place. This will benefit the students both in high school and in college afterward.

Earn College Credit – Again, students earn actual college credits. Instead of spending time in a preparatory school, which only help them get ready for college, ECHS programs leave students with transferrable credits for the same amount of work. They can spend their college years focusing more on their major and extracurriculars instead.

Early College High School Cons

Here are some problems you can run into too.

Potential College Major Limitations – If you’re unsure about your major, then you might run into problems. ECHS programs are great for students who have a clear idea of what they want to pursue in college.

Why? Because these programs normally lock you into a college credit curriculum that will reduce actual college campus time.

If you feel a need to explore your campus more to decide a major, then you may be denied the opportunity since you’ve already shaved time off. Think about that before applying to your local program.

Limited Access – ECHS programs are available throughout the country, but not everywhere yet. Currently, there are 22 states which have zero available early college high school programs.

It’s best then to go online and search if there’s a program available in your state and local jurisdiction. If not, then, unfortunately, you won’t have access to their benefits.

Credit Transfer Issues – Make sure the colleges you apply to will accept all your credits. Colleges and universities all have their own credit requirements, including accepting transfers.

Base class requirements should transfer with little to no problem. Anything more specialized may have trouble being accepted. That’s why it’s best to contact admissions offices early and check which credits can transfer.

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