An excellent opportunity

Published 6:29 pm Saturday, April 19, 2008

By Staff
Hopefully, by the time April 30 arrives, more than 60 people will have submitted applications to attend the new Beaufort County Early College High School, which is scheduled to open Aug. 7.
The decision to extend the deadline for students to apply to attend the new school was made last week when about 45 applications had been received. All applicants must be in the eighth grade. The student population for the new school will be capped at 60 students in its first year.
The new school provides an opportunity some students should not pass up.
The new school, which will be located on the Beaufort County Community College campus, targets first-generation college-bound students. Graduates of the five-year program, which is tuition-free, will earn a high-school diploma and an associate’s degree from the college. Those are good academic credentials to have at age 17 or 18.
Students in the program will have to work for those credentials. The first part of the five-year course of study has students taking part in a slightly accelerated high-school curriculum. The second segment is made up of the community college’s associate’s-degree curriculum. All courses are taken at the college.
This program more than prepares students for moving on to a college or university where they may earn a four-year degree. If something unforeseen happens to prevent one of these students from being able to earn a four-year degree, at least that student has a high-school diploma and associate’s degree. Those will give that student somewhat of an advantage in the job market.
The program is part of Gov. Mike Easley’s Learn and Earn Early College High School Initiative. The program, launched in September 2004, has the goal of creating at least one of the schools in every North Carolina county by the end of this year.
Funding for the Early College Initiative comes from $21 million in subsidies from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and an anticipated $40 million raised through the North Carolina New Schools Project. It will be money well spent.
Does the program work? Data provided by the Early College High School Initiative indicate it does.
Last year, more than 900 students graduated from 17 early college high schools around the nation. “Their achievements far surpass those of their peers from traditional high schools serving similar populations,” reads the Web site.
Preliminary data show that:
That’s why the program deserves support and a chance to prove its worth. That’s why some eighth-grade students should apply for admission to Beaufort County Early College High School.
Those students should not let this opportunity pass them by.