Early College Entrance Programs: What They Are & Who They’re For

April 5, 2012 Category: College Tips

While most students have no problem with staying on the traditional track towards finishing high school and then entering college, some individuals would rather speed up the process. The desire for certain students to accelerate their path towards college can now be fulfilled, thanks to early college entrance programs.

What Are Early College Entrance Programs?

As the name implies, this type of program is specifically designed to allow younger students to enroll and attend a college or university sooner and without the need to graduate from high school with a diploma. Through the early college entrance programs, it is not uncommon for 15, 16 or 17-year-old students to be full-time status on a college campus. Unlike similar programs that offer advanced college courses to high school aged students, participants in early college entrance programs are not attending classes in order to earn college credit while pursuing their regular studies–they are actually recognized as full-time college students.

How Does It Work?

Early College EntranceParents of students that wish to speed up the path towards the college years have a list of approximately 20 schools to choose from that offer early college entrance programs. Not all programs operate the same, which is why it is important that parents and their children research each school carefully and gain a thorough understanding of what is expected from students that are eligible to participate.

Open houses and college tours are available to students and their families in order to introduce them to the campus environment and get a glimpse of the day-to-day activities. Once accepted, students are not left to their own devices or expected to fend for themselves. Early college entrance programs group these students together so that they are still able to interact with peers their own age while attending classes alongside college-aged students. There are also social support groups in place to help accelerated students make the transition. Many participating colleges and universities regularly accept these types of students on a regular basis, which results in having a fairly integrated student body made up of both high school age as well as traditional college aged students.

Some of the larger schools house their early college entrance programs within a specific part of campus, while others simply integrate their group of accelerated students into the general student body. However, a few colleges like the Bard College at Simon’s Rock, are actually designed to cater to much younger students.

Pros & Cons

Since the creation of such programs, there has been mixed reviews about the effectiveness of early college entrance programs. Supporters claim that making this option available to high school students allows them to learn at a level that is more suited to their abilities, instead of sitting through regular high school classes, covering subjects they already know. Critics believe putting young people into a much more grown up environment too soon could place unnecessary pressure on them, cause higher levels of stress and may affect the natural process of developing age appropriate social skills and communication. However, these viewpoints have not stopped such programs from continuing to operate and flourish.

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