Welcome to the New Mexico Early College High School Resource Center

New Mexico Early College High School Definition: 

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 credential and/or degree. Early college high schools are tuition free, and expose all students to rigorous academics and career technical education coursework. They focus on low-income youth, first-generation college-goers, English Language Learners, ethnically diverse students, and other young people underrepresented in higher education. 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.

Some defining characteristics of early college high schools: 

  • Small size – typically no more than 100 students per grade level
  • Responsible growth – typically opens with 9th grade and takes 4 years to reach full capacity
  • Close proximity to the postsecondary partner – often on their campus
  • Block scheduling – allows for acceleration of the graduation requirements so upperclassman can take college courses
  • Limited high school electives – most elective credits are earned through dual credit coursework

Questions to ask School Districts in New Mexico:

Do any of your high schools offer college bearing course programs for learners? If so, can a learner earn either an industry credential and/or receive college credit?

Does your district have an enrollment process for ECHS entry?

Is your ECHS program on campus or at a post secondary institution?

General Questions about ECHS:

Question: What are Early College High Schools? 

Answer: Early College High Schools are small high schools where students earn both a high school diploma and two years of college credit (60 hours or a pre-determined set of hours) towards a bachelor’s degree and/or industry credential.

Question: Why have an Early College High School? 

Answer: 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

Question: What types of students will Early College High Schools serve?

Answer: Ninth to twelfth grade students who have a sincere interest in academics, the goal of attending college, and a willingness to work hard. The Early College High School should center on students for whom a smooth transition into post-secondary education is challenging. The Early College High School is designed to substantially increase the number of low-income students and first-generation college-bound students who will pursue advanced studies.

Question: Does my child have to be in the Academically/Intellectually Gifted Program to participate?

Answer: Typically, no. Students and parents need only demonstrate a commitment to fully participate in an academically rigorous program.

Questions: What are some of the benefits of being part of the Early College High School?


  • 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.
  • The school’s small size will provide the opportunity for individualized attention.
  • It enables highly motivated students to move in four years from ninth grade through the first two years of college.
  • Provide rigor, depth and intensity of college-level work in high school.
  • Inspire average, underachieving and well-prepared high school students to work hard and stretch themselves intellectually.
  • Save money and time by integrating high school and college-level work.

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