Group of graduates in dark green gowns throwing caps in air on blue sky day

Early College: Not Your Average High School Experience

If you had the chance to start high school and college at the same time, would you take it? It's possible with Early College programs. One student describes her experience of graduating high school with both a diploma and an associate degree!

You just finished middle school and can’t wait to start high school. What if I told you there was a way for you to do high school and college at the same time? It may sound like a lot of homework and overwhelming when you’re still so young, but there's a program you can benefit from: Early College. Here’s an account of my Early College experience and how to gauge whether or not it’s the right decision for you, your high school journey, and your future college goals.

Big factors of Early College programs

I attend Franklin County Early College High School in Louisburg, North Carolina. Early College is a five-year program that allows students to take high school and college courses. Graduates receive a high school diploma and an associate degree and/or college transfer credits from a community college. This public school program allows students to get a head start on college coursework and learn how to apply themselves at the university level. Students who attend this school are treated as adults, from the workload to the discipline.

I’m in my last year of Early College, so that makes me a “super senior,” or a student who is in their fifth and final year of the program. I don’t regret my decision to attend my school. I’m actually thankful that I got a chance to experience what it would be like to start college at the age of 14. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in too, read on to learn about another option after middle school besides traditional high school.

Related: 5 Things to Know About Early College Programs


Like any other high school, Early College students are required to take traditional English, math, science, and social studies classes to graduate with a high school diploma. But we also take college courses, on campus and online, from instructors at Vance-Granville Community College campuses. The Vance Granville Franklin Campus is across the road from the high school, so it’s just a quick walk between classes. Sometimes you may miss part of your high school classes to attend a college course—around 10 to 30 minutes at the most. To get your Associate of Science degree, you have to earn 61 credits, while 60 credits are required to earn an Associate of Art. The courses are challenging, but they help you toward your goals.

Extracurricular activities

Early College students are given opportunities just like students at traditional high schools. We can join clubs, go to school dances, play sports, etc. Although it may seem as if students at Early College work more than play, work and fun equal out. One of the amazing events hosted by the Franklin County Early College is its Spring Formal. It was an amazing night filled with fun moments and seeing old friends.

Is Early College right for you?

Early College is a big step in a student’s life. Five years is a long time, and you’ll be in school for an additional year after senior year, so taking your time to think about whether you should apply is very important. The principal and a group of students visited my middle school to talk to the eighth graders about Early College; that’s how I learned about the program. Before applying, there are some things you need to keep in mind. Students should think about whether they are truly ready to dedicate a lot of time and effort to the school and are mature enough to take on challenging college courses. You’ll have late nights and heavy course loads, and you may need to give up sports or other activities to keep up with your academics.

Related: 5 Signs You Should Consider Early College

Early College gives students the opportunity to experience high school and college at the same time. You’ll take classes that other students have to wait until their first year of college to take. Even if it does sound like a lot of work, it’s worth it in the end to graduate with a high school diploma and an Associate of Art or Science. 

Start your college search early by using our College Search tool right here on CollegeXpress!

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

associate degrees college admission college credits community college early college high school students public schools

About Brinea Wright

I was born and raised in North Carolina. I go to high school in a program called Early College. I have taken high school as well as college courses since freshmen year. I wanted to be a veterinarian at the age of four until my senior year of Early College. Now that I'm in my last year, as a super senior, I want to major in English (Professional Writing, to be more specific).


Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Laura Wallace

Laura Wallace

High School Class of 2019

My favorite part of CollegeXpress is that it features student writers so I get an inside perspective from students slightly older and farther along than me. I realize that other college websites also utilize student writers; however, I relate the most to the college writers that I read articles from on CollegeXpress.

Joseph Johnsly

Joseph Johnsly

High School Class of 2021

It's an honor for me to be writing to share a little about my experience with CollegeXpress. I've been using CollegeXpress for about a year now, and the reason why I chose it is because it provides astonishing scholarships for every student around the globe. Besides that, this organization dispenses all the information necessary to help students get to college. CollegeXpress has helped me have an easier experience with applying to colleges and choosing the best fit for myself.

Hailey Riddile

Hailey Riddile

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress has helped me find scholarships to apply for and look into more colleges. While there are many websites similar to CollegeXpress, every website is different, and I've found a lot of good insight on this website. Receiving emails from CollegeXpress about scholarships is extremely useful, and getting insight about colleges near, far, and anywhere in between helps me narrow down my choices to what I want, which is also super helpful. The articles are always really good reads, and I can't stress enough how helpful this website has been to me. Anything related to college is beneficial to me as a senior, and I have learned lots of useful things to help me on my college journey this year.

Chris Bell

Chris Bell

Bell College Consulting

The college lists on CollegeXpress are indispensable for sussing out creative additions to a student’s list, and the college-specific pages provide terrific commentary and suggestions for related schools. CollegeXpress is among the most trusted sources I use for information for my students.

Fabiola Rodriguez

Fabiola Rodriguez

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress helped me on my journey to get to the school of my first choice by showing me all the options I have. I didn’t know of the College of Southern Nevada until I went on this website, and it helped me look for other choices and compare what colleges would be right for me.

College Matches