The challenge of Early College High School

Published 4:54 pm Friday, July 12, 2019

High school is where most people will make memories that last a lifetime and make decisions that determine their future.

My high school experience is a little different than most public school students’. I have been at Beaufort County Early College for almost five years. This year is my final year. When I started at BCECHS, I thought it was going to push me to my limits and test my boundaries as a student and as a person, which it has. I have always been shy, so going to a new school where I didn’t know many people was terrifying.

Throughout my years in the program, there have been high and low moments. My first year, like for most high school freshmen, was difficult for me to adjust to the fast-paced classes and hectic schedule. When I thought I couldn’t last in the program and was thinking of dropping out, two teachers pushed me out of my comfort zone — my freshman-year English teacher and my junior-year history teacher. Through “tough love,” they encouraged me to think positively and to push through. Both helped me realize my full potential.

With the help of these teachers and others, I have gained so much by being at the Early College. I’ve learned how to persevere through situations and realize what I am capable of. Yes, I have missed out on certain things that other high schools have, such as pep rallies and football games, but I have gained so much more than what I have missed.

BCECHS is different than a traditional public high school. I encountered constant challenges, but I had teachers who worked with me one-on-one and helped me rise to those challenges. They never gave up on us students, even when we wanted to give up on ourselves. They encouraged me and put in the extra effort to help me overcome the mindset of “I can’t do it.”

For me, one negative thing that has always been an issue is the pressure I have felt to do well in school. Ever since I’ve been in the program, I’ve felt I needed to be the best student. That pressure went down a little bit more each year because of the support of the people around me. I now know that trying my best is all that counts.

Although there aren’t any sports teams associated with Early College, no pep rallies or things of that nature, there’s so much more to positively gain from this experience. To me, there are many pros of going to the Early College. I will get my high school diploma while obtaining an Associate in Arts and an Associate in Science, while not having to pay for the college classes or textbooks. I’ve also made so many great friendships.

The last five years have flown by. A lot of my friends have graduated early, so having to complete this last year without some of them will be tough and will be even tougher when I graduate next year. Saying goodbye to your friends is never easy, but it’s all a part of the growing process. I am now starting to choose what colleges I want to attend — the first step in starting a new chapter in my life, which can be difficult and overwhelming for most young people.

My Early College experience is almost over, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. I have learned so much about myself and what I want my future to be like. High school is the time to make memories with others and make life-changing decisions, not just about your future but about yourself.

Marissa Woolard is a Beaufort County Early College High School student and a summer intern for the Washington Daily News.