Early College High School Frequently Asked Questions

Early college high schools use a transformational strategy of bringing college into high school by simultaneously offering a high school diploma and a college-level associate degree, transferrable hours toward a four-year degree, and/or an industry credential. Early college high schools are tuition free, and expose all students to rigorous academics and career technical education coursework. They prioritize students underrepresented in higher education including low-income youth, first-generation college-goers, English Language Learners, and ethnically diverse students. Early college high schools establish formalized partnerships with colleges and community partners that foster shared responsibility for student success. Programming includes meaningful work-based learning experiences that align to dynamic sectors of New Mexico’s economy and a structured CTE sequence that leads to credentials recognized by business and industry.

Early College High Schools typically:

  • have no more than 100 students per grade level, allowing for carefully constructed wrap-around supports for each student
  • are located in close proximity to the postsecondary partner – often on their campus
  • use a form of block scheduling, which allows for acceleration of the graduation requirements so upperclassman can take college courses
  • offer limited high school electives as most elective credits are earned through dual credit coursework
  • demonstrate responsible growth in the early years, often opening with ninth grade and taking four years to reach full capacity

Early college high schools have the potential to improve high school graduation rates and better prepare students for family-supporting careers by:

  • Changing the structure of the high school years
  • Compressing the numbers of years to a college degree
  • Removing financial and other barriers to college

By definition, Early College High Schools serve students who:

  • are in ninth to twelfth grade students
  • who have a sincere interest in academics, the goal of attending college, and a willingness to work hard
  • might find be challenged by the transition into post-secondary education
  • are typically underrepresented in higher education, including low-income students and first-generation college-bound students 

No. Students and parents need only demonstrate a commitment to fully participate in an academically rigorous program.

Early College High Schools:

  • Maximize the instructional quality of the years of high school and facilitate the transition of motivated students to higher education
  • Demonstrate new ways of integrating levels of schooling to better serve the intellectual and developmental needs of young people
  • There is greater opportunity for individualized attention because the size of the school is smaller.
  • Enable highly motivated students to move through four years of high school and the first two years of college in the same amount of time it takes most students to complete high school
  • Provide rigor, depth and intensity of college-level work in high school
  • Inspire average,  sometimes underachieving, yet dedicated high school students to work hard and stretch themselves intellectually
  • Save money and time by integrating high school and college-level work
  • Do any of your high schools offer college credit-bearing course work for learners? If so, can a learner earn either an industry credential and/or receive college credit?
  • Does your district have an Early College High School Program? If so, is what is the enrollment process for entry? Who should I contact?
  • Is the Early College High School on a traditional high school campus or at a post secondary institution? 

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