If you’re attending an early college high school, you already know that you’re going to have an associate’s degree – or two years’ worth of college-level courses – once you graduate. But if you’re not yet in high school and you’d like to learn what the early college high school requirements are to enter one of these high schools, you’ve come to the right place. To be sure, you have to plan ahead if this is what your goal is because waiting until you’re already in high school might mean you’ll miss certain deadlines or courses.
What Is Early College High School (ECHS)?
ECHS programs are not the same as dual enrollment. In dual enrollment, the student takes college classes while in high school, but ECHS students take their classes on a college campus and only return to their high schools for meetings or extracurricular activities. The students take high school courses and college courses, and if they do not qualify for an associate’s degree when they graduate, they’ll have two years of transferable college credit that will count towards a bachelor’s degree.
Early college high schools are fairly new and today, only about 28 states have them, but this includes roughly 230 schools and around 50,000 students. In most states, high school students take regular courses in 9th and 10th grade, but in 11th grade they begin taking college courses as well. Each state varies, but it is usually a legislative House bill that sets forth the requirements for these ECHS facilities. An ECHS helps gifted students and disadvantaged students work towards a college degree.
Are These Programs Just for Public Universities?
Early college students can attend almost any college once they graduate, but they have to make sure that both the private and public colleges they’re considering accept ECHS students – not all of them do. Nevertheless, since students are physically located on the college’s campus, they’ll always know this ahead of time. Their high school counselor will give them the information they need to proceed, but the main point here is that students will know ahead of time what schools will and will not accept them.
Even though it’s best if you start these high schools as a freshman, keep in mind that you won’t actually be taking college credit hours until your junior year. Most high schools require that you start their school in 9th grade, but that requirement is up to that particular school. Furthermore, you still have to abide by the high school graduation requirements for that high school. It may sound complicated, especially for first-year applicants, but it’s not that difficult once you get there. Just remember that both high school credits and college credits will be earned during this period.
A Few Important Things to Remember
With an early college program, you spend four years in high school but receive both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree. There is no cost to the students or their families, and once you enter college, you’ll be known as a freshman or first-year student, even though you’ll already have earned credits for college courses. To be sure, this type of school is not a traditional high school, but you’ll still have opportunities to enjoy four years of high school and the perks that go along with them, and enroll in high school programs that are both educational and fun.
You also get college credits for any AP or IB exam credit you earned while still in high school. To get into both an ECHS or the college you received credits for, each school has its own requirements, but during your high school years, you’ll learn what these are and you’ll be prepared once you become a freshman. Requirements are different for each school, but keep in mind that you may still need to have a good ACT score, a certain high school GPA, and maybe other test scores as well. In addition, most colleges allow no discrimination on the basis of race, sexual orientation, or national origin, so there’s no problem there.
Most of these colleges also accept you as a transfer student, and you can still apply for federal grants or extra help financially if you like. In fact, once you start college, many of the rules are the same as other colleges, except that you’ll already have a college transcript in your first year! ECHS’s offer excellent educational programs that allow high schoolers to get a jump start on their college career. These schools offer a full-time program for these students that put them ahead of their peers.
The early college high school program route is a smart thing to do for eligible students seeking a combination of high school and college coursework, hence why many school districts increasingly offer it. In the eighth grade, you’ll have to get a parent or legal guardian to sign you up for the program, and the high school and/or college can provide all of the information you need. While teens’ senior years are busy, you’ll be learning about credit hours, tuition payments, and anything else college-related for a smooth transition to catapult your college readiness and accelerate your path towards and success in your higher education pursuits.