6 Components of Early College Programs for Ambitious Teens

Ambitious teens deserve a competitive advantage, and an early college high school program might be the best way to offer that head-start to your young adult. But what makes an “early college high school program” different from your typical “high school program”? What makes one early college program stand out from all the rest?

Any high school can offer your teen an education in academics. High schoolers, however, often require more steering (both academically and personally) than traditionally prescribed–especially if the goal upon graduation is college. As a result, millions of teenagers struggle in senior year, barely meeting the requirements, and many arrive at college ill-prepared.

Jobs for the Future describes that early college high school programs specifically address this problem of unpreparedness upon high school graduation. These programs operate on the tenet that in today’s world, young people need a postsecondary education in order to thrive. This achievement can be particularly challenging for low-income youth, English language learners, first-generation college students, people of color, and other minority populations. In order to meet this overarching goal, early college high school programs combine academic rigor with the opportunity to save time and money towards college credits and credentials.

Only great early college programs like Connecticut River Academy will advise and strategize with each student throughout their entire high school career in preparation for a rewarding future. You don’t just want your child to be accepted into college, you want them to achieve and flourish. That is why Connecticut River Academy’s environmentally-focused magnet school curriculum is specific, hands-on, and personalized, offering gifted young people bright futures.

Here are six ways Connecticut River Academy’s early college high school program can prepare your teen for the future he or she deserves:

  1. With a career-focused theme.

At Connecticut River Academy, the curriculum is built on the theme of Sustainability. By offering paths in Environmental Studies and Advanced Manufacturing, teens become prepared for a variety of careers in the sciences. Through hands-on experimentation, field and lab work, high-tech machinery operation, internships and college-level courses, students get an exciting taste of what their futures could be. They are provided with all the tools and guidance necessary to make their dreams a reality.

  1. Through advising.

One of Connecticut River Academy’s most impressive assets is their advising regimen. Focusing not just on academic achievement, but also supporting the social and emotional growth of teens, Connecticut River Academy advisors and advisees work together to create unique programming, while meeting grad level-specific benchmarks. The Advisory team explores values of awareness, diversity, and action while strengthening relationships with students, helping the whole learner in both the head and the heart.

  1. By offering transferrable college credits.

Students at Connecticut River Academy may earn up to 30 tuition-free, transferable college credits. Talk about a jump-start – that’s approximately one year of free college! When taking into account the high cost of postsecondary education today, one year’s worth of tuition savings could be enormous, especially for students who are economically disadvantaged. Not to mention, your teen could enter college with so many of the pre-requisite courses already completed that they may qualify for some of the more challenging and engaging courses, putting them ahead, and on top, of their entering class.

  1. With state-of-the-art facilities.

Connecticut River Academy is a technology magnet school, brimming with real-world equipment for students to use. Through the Goodwin College connection, high school students can utilize Goodwin’s 37,000 square foot, state-of-the-art advanced manufacturing space. Additionally, high school students can mount the Connecticut River on the college’s research vessel and learn about ecology and water sources. Here, we believe using both the environment and lab facilities as hands-on learning experiences will allow students to engage with their social and biological communities as well as gain useful, career-based training with new technologies.

  1. Through the Capstone Experience.

At the Connecticut River Academy, students are required to complete a Capstone Experience before graduation. A very involved endeavor, their Capstone is the resulting project from studies in an area of self-directed interest. It includes an 8 to 12-page, thesis-based research paper, a portfolio reflecting the scholar’s growth over the course of their high school career, and a presentation in front of a panel of judges. The Capstone Experience shows both the community at large and the participating student that they are capable and that they are invested in their own progress – entering “life after high school” with vigor and maturity.

  1. With diversity and inclusivity.

Connecticut River Academy’s magnet standards are devoted to helping students gain an understanding and respect for diversity in our physical, social, and cultural environments. Student speaker Jaisha Rivera, from the Academy’s graduating class of 2015, offered fellow graduates a reminder that, “CTRA taught us about relationships and the importance of community… Some of us have overcome barriers that only they can comprehend.” The power of respect for diversity in a world where this balance is currently threatened, could be one of the most important lessons we hope our teens learn.

A competitive advantage for an ambitious teen is more than academic college preparedness, an advantage that the most reputable early college high school programs will offer. At Connecticut River Academy, instructors and mentors focus on nurturing the whole young adult, making for a truly “competitive” individual.

To learn more about Connecticut River Academy or our early college model, please sign up for a parent information session here.