Early college needs room to grow

Published 5:58 pm Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A statewide project of then Governor Mike Easley, the Polk County Early College began in 2007 as the first virtual early college in the state.

Today, the Early College continues to see success through ever increasing student enrollment.

So, $800,000 seems like a lot of money – and it is – but in the long run potential money spent on a new location for the Early College could possibly secure the opportunity for even more students in Polk County.

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The idea behind Early College is to blend college courses with the support of high school staff. This allows students who otherwise might find college too expensive to complete up to an associates degree while still in high school.

Polk County Schools works with Isothermal Community College to provide courses to students while they also complete work for a high school diploma.

The great thing about this program is that tuition and textbooks for the courses are free other than some associated fees. Early College also maintains a small classroom size so students can focus on their studies and receive the attention they need to do well in all of their courses.

One of few downsides to the program now is that these students do not attend classes on or near the high school campus, which prevents them from being involved in as many extracurricular activities as they might would be otherwise. Superintendent Bill Miller has jumped at an opportunity to look at a potential future need of the system by improving the location of the Early College so students can benefit from all the opportunities the system affords. In the meantime requesting this move from the commission reminds the community of the benefits students receive from this program.

– The Tryon Daily Bulletin Staff