Originally Posted: Sep 9, 2014
Last Updated: Aug 4, 2020
If you're a high school student already itching to get into a college classroom, you might want to investigate the option of early college, and you can start exploring the opportunities with these insider insights from the Director of Admission at such an institution, Bard's College at Simon's Rock.
Most people who go to college do so right after they finish high school, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. The standard path works fine for some, but for others, it just doesn’t. Some students take time off before college in the form of a gap year. Some attend community college and then transfer. And some just can’t wait...
Each year, hundreds of high school students choose to enroll in early college programs before they graduate from high school. Wondering if early college might be right for you? Take a look at these five common indicators to see if you’re ready.
1. You know there’s more waiting for you
Are you itching to explore subjects not offered in high school or do you already know what you want to study? Then you’re not likely asking yourself “what do I want to do when I grow up?” but more like “why do I have to spend two more years going through the motions when I want to navigate my own educational path now?” You don’t have to! If your educational development really can’t wait two more years, get researching on how you can take it into your own hands now.
2. You’re bored with your high school classes
Maybe you get straight A’s without even trying, or maybe you blow off work that bores you. Either way, you know that getting good grades doesn't always mean getting a good education. Your classes should feel challenging put not impossible, so maybe that means you're ready for more difficult material. If you're not getting the most out of your high school classes, it may mean you need a college-level curriculum to stimulate your brain.
3. You want your passion for learning to be appreciated
Sometimes may you feel like you have to hide your passion for learning and intellectual engagement so you can fit in. You may often seek teachers, family members, or older friends when you want to have an intellectually stimulating conversation. This means you have a higher appreciation for learning and developing yourself than most students have in high school, and that passion for learning could lead you to a great education long before you’re ever meant to step foot on a college campus.
4. College-level classes sound appealing
If you’ve already taken the highest-level courses your high school has to offer and you’re still looking for an even greater challenge, than it’s likely you’re excited just thinking about taking college-level classes. Would you jump at the chance to study Nietzsche, learn about the anthropology of music, or dive into quantum physics? Then you should probably start searching for an early college program that fits your needs.
5. You’re extraordinarily curious
Curiosity is one of the great pillars of learning and discovery, and it should be nurtured. If you have a lot of interests and you’d rather spend time exploring those topics than texting about the school dance, the upcoming game, or the latest high school drama, than let that curiosity guide you into an early college opportunity.
Early college is a unique opportunity for students who are ready for the challenge of college after 10th or 11th grade. It's different from high school. You’ll be expected to participate in rigorous discussion, ask questions, and challenge your professors. You’ll be responsible for the shape and scope of your education, working with your advisors and professors to choose or design your own courses, independent projects, and internships. Your senior thesis will be the kind of work most of your high school friends can’t even imagine. But don’t worry—you’ll have ample help and support along the way. If you’re ready, and you have the courage and confidence to step off the traditional education treadmill, there is a place for you.
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