New Ways to Start College While You’re in High School

Barry Lenson

As college costs soar, more students are discovering the idea of earning college credits while they’re still in high school. Of course, this idea has been around for decades, in the form of advanced placement courses (AP Tests).

But there are other initiatives that let students combine high school with college. Let’s take a closer look.

What Bard College Is Doing

Leon Botstein, the president of Bard College, is an innovator. Back in 2008, he launched Bard High School Early College in Queens, New York. At BHSEC, students earn both high school diplomas and associate of arts degrees in just four years. The result? Students can usually earn a bachelors degree two years after finishing high school.

The concept worked so well that Botstein launched another BHSEC school last year in lower Manhattan. It’s called Bard High School Early College Manhattan. In a recent interview with The New York Times, Botstein said he would like to open 150 similar schools across the country, serving up to 100,000 students.

It’s interesting to note that Bard started combining college and high school way back in 1966, long before Botstein arrived on campus. In that year, Bard opened Bard College at Simon’s Rock, located in western Massachusetts. Simon’s Rock also lets students start college before they finish high school.

What StraighterLine Is Doing

High school students have always been welcome to earn college credits by taking StraighterLine online college courses. But StraighterLine has just announced a new agreement with The Bridge School that promises to break down the barriers between high school and college.

A pioneer in distance learning, The Bridge School offers more than 160 Middle School, and High School courses, including Dual Credit and AP. The Bridge School offers High School diplomas and transferable credit, since it is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI) using online solutions for students who want an alternative to the traditional classroom environment.

Under the new agreement between StraighterLine and The Bridge School, students who successfully complete StraighterLine online college courses will receive high school credit from The Bridge School and college credit from any of StraighterLine’s partner colleges - or any of the one thousand or more colleges that award credit for courses recommended by the American Council on Education’s Credit Recommendation Service.

“With StraighterLine’s courses, Bridge School students can dramatically reduce the cost of college,” says Burck Smith, StraighterLine’s CEO. “Further, by starting college with existing credits, research shows that these students are more likely to complete their degree.”

“Providing an open enrollment opportunity to deliver dual credit courses is one important way for The Bridge School to address individual student goals, says Dr. Spyros Catechis, The Bridge School founder and CEO.  “Partnering with StraighterLine to offer these courses in a way that matches the high tech expectations of today’s high school students, will help maximize our students’ acquisition of knowledge.”

Will more institutions jump in and find new ways to combine high school with college? We think so. It is an idea whose time has come.

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