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5 Benefits of Early College Programs in High School

high school student earning dual credits through college level classes online

Competition for jobs is intense. Not too long ago, a high school diploma was substantial enough to land a career, but now a bachelor degree is a basic qualification for nearly every industry position. Since higher education is a necessity in today’s workforce, attending an early college program while still in high school is a proactive way to ensure students are on a clear path towards obtaining a college degree.

Attending an early college program also offers a range of unique benefits including:

1. Accessibility for a Wide Range of Students

Early college courses can be ideal for any type of student, as they allow the opportunity for earning just a few credits or even going all the way to an associate degree. The flexibility of online classes also allows students to spend time mastering concepts while still enjoying their interests, talents, and passions.

2. Real World Applications

Managing college courses while still in high school requires dedication. However, with this level of responsibility comes advantages that will help shape students’ character and better prepare them for the real world.

With college courses, high school students can:

– Develop a Strong Work Ethic

– Form Time Management Skills

– Improve Their Writing Skills

– Advance Their Critical Thinking

– Study at a More Mature Rate Than Their Peers

Often, the knowledge students gain through early college courses also helps them improve in their other classes.

3. Personal Coaching

Many early college programs provide additional support to ensure high school students thrive in their classes. This includes tutoring, counseling, and guidance from real college professors who want students to succeed in both their high school and college coursework.

Since these programs have a smaller enrollment than a typical freshman class at a university, the support is readily available in a more personal, one-on-one approach with regular student and parent check-ins.

4. Prepare for College

Attending college is a huge chance that will require some adapting, especially if the school is in a different state and out of a comfort zone. Many students struggle to get comfortable in their new environment and some even end up leaving school altogether.

With early experience in undergraduate studies, students have the advantage of a smoother transition between high school and the college of their choice. They develop a college-level mentality sooner than their peers, which can help them handle heavy workloads and balance school and a social life. This will be especially beneficial since many students have trouble adjusting to college during their first year.

5. Money Savings

Saying college is expensive would be an understatement (see the chart below). In fact, the average class of 2016 graduates has $37,172 in student loan debt, which is a six percent increase from last year. Since tuition rises every semester, the severity of the student loan debt situation will only get worse.

Not only is this stressful for parents, it’s also a cause of anxiety for students, since worrying about paying for school can derail their attention away from their studies. They may also need to work full-time to pay for classes, which can push back their graduation and end up costing them even more in the long run.

Taking college-level courses while still in high school can alleviate some of that pressure. Students can knock out a few prerequisite classes or even go all the way and earn their associate degree at a fraction of the cost it would be to attend college after high school.

For example, through the Early College Online program with the Community College System of New Hampshire (CCSNH), high school students can take up to two courses for FREE each year.

Students taking undergraduate courses in high school are more likely to graduate from high school, enroll in college, and earn a degree than their peers not enrolled in an early college program. This early experience will help to keep students on the right track towards graduating from high school, give them a head start on their college education, and provide them a competitive edge when it comes time to apply for their first job.

VLACS offers an early college program to help students advance their education and get a head start in college. Check it out and get started today!