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


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
Jeff Parsons

Jeff Parsons


Thank you so much for this valuable information about these opportunities. I truly appreciate the CollegeXpress communications and use them to keep my high school seniors informed about their opportunities!



High School Class of 2019

My college search began at CollegeXpress. Due to this helpful tool, I was able to gather a lot of information to guide my college planning decisions. Through CollegeXpress, I was also able to apply to several scholarships to help pay for my tuition. I would definitely recommend this website to anyone who wants to explore colleges and get more information from admission experts, counselors, and real students.

Sierra Carranza

Sierra Carranza

High School Class of 2022

I had absolutely no idea where I wanted to go to school; I was considering colleges in almost every state. CollegeXpress was an amazing resource and helped me compare all of my top schools. Without the help of CollegeXpress, I probably wouldn't have made such an informed and confident decision.

Asia Stockdale

Asia Stockdale

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress helped me overcome a huge hurdle. Because of the small town I live in, I felt like I would never achieve more. I felt like I could never go beyond because of costs. I feared I wouldn’t be able to find scholarships. I had no idea of where to start. With CollegeXpress, I easily found scholarships—they came to me. It was a helper, and I was instantly matched with opportunities to go above and beyond educationally.

Heaven Johnson

Heaven Johnson

Back to School Scholarship Winner, High School Class of 2023

I’d like to thank everyone on the CollegeXpress team for their generosity. Not only have I been awarded this scholarship, but CollegeXpress makes it easier to apply and gives amazing tips for schools and scholarships. I am extremely grateful as this will help with my schooling and allow me to be able to enter into the field I’ve been dreaming of all my life. 

College Matches

Colleges You May Be Interested In

Gonzaga University

Spokane, WA