For your average high school student with above average intelligence, high school is a waste of time and energy. Mingled in with the angst and disillusionment is the desire for a challenge greater than rote memorization and sucking up to teachers. This is the inspiration behind a number of college programs popping up around the country designed to take kids out of high school before they've earned a diploma: Most kids reach their creative climax when they're about 16, and college is the best place for them to harness this creativity.
While it is certainly possible to enter a university without having first received a diploma, these schools encourage enrollment by kids who haven't finished high school. Some of these programs earn you a diploma, but for those that don't you can usually arrange it with your high school, or just get a GED. These programs are generally rigorous and liberal arts-based, and all of them have a core curriculum. Scholarships are generally available for students with significant need, and some offer merit scholarships. People who get accepted generally have a good academic record (greater than 3.0 or 3.5, depending on the school) and some extraordinary talent. Most of these programs take somewhere from 30 to 80 students a year, so there is usually some stiff competition. Tuition is varied, ranging from $0-$39,000. For more detailed descriptions, go to www.earlycolleges.org or to the web sites for the individual programs that are pipe linked to the names.
High School to College Skip high school completely.
Simon's Rock College of Bard (SRC): SRC is a full-fledged college for the young and eager. Kids can enroll after their freshman, sophomore or junior year of high school, and have the option of either staying for two years, receiving an AA and transferring elsewhere, or staying for four years and getting a BA. Getting a BA usually involves taking a lot of tutorials, which can be either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your field of interest (The economics department consists of one professor, who is a Marxist). Some advanced courses are available, though, giving AA candidates a great variety. All of the non-math/science classes are seminars. Full merit-based scholarships are available for students applying for admission after their sophomore year.
Transition School and Early Entrance Program (TS/EEP): The University of Washington offers a five year program wherein a student can pack all four years of high school into one year of study, and then follow it up with the normal curriculum at UW, earning a BA. Students live at home for the first two years, and can move on campus afterwards.
Early Entrance Program (EEP): California State University, Los Angeles takes kids from 11 years old and up and gives them a supportive environment and access to college-level classes. Students can get their BA in 4 or 5 years. The kids commute and have a schedule just like high school, only it's more rigorous.
Program for the Exceptionally Gifted (PEG): Mary Baldwin College hosts a female-only program that
takes girls out of high school at any age and puts them in a college setting. The core curriculum is the same as that of the rest of the college, with a handful of other elementary courses. Students live in the PEG residence hall their first year, and can commute afterwards. This program will earn you a BA if you stick around for four years.
High School/College Transition smoothly between high school and college.
Bard High School Early College (BHSEC): Sponsored by Bard College, BHSEC is a public high school in New York City that provides students with a high school diploma and an AA after finishing 12th grade. Students (about 150 a year) can enroll for 9th, 10th or 11th grade. Just like Simon's Rock, all the classes are seminars. The Gates Foundation has decided to fund the creation of more schools like BHSEC, which should be opening soon. This program just started in 2001, and is still under some development.
Boston University Academy (BUA): BUA is a school for 8th to 12th graders affiliated with Boston University. The curriculum is just like a regular high school's, until you get to 11th grade, when your schedule includes 2 college courses, and 12th grade, which consists of 4 college courses. You leave with a high school diploma and up to 48 college credits.
The Early College at Guilford (ECG): ECG is a high school located in Guilford College that offers juniors and seniors the opportunity to take college courses. All graduates get a high school diploma, and students who take the appropriate courses in those two years can earn an AA.
High School Replacement Skip high school for some college credit.
Missouri Academy of Science, Mathematics and Computing (MASMC): This program replaces the junior and senior years of high school with two years of college. The students live on campus (Northwestern Missouri State University), and can take college courses after the first trimester. Graduates receive a high school diploma and an Associate of Science degree. This program is for the hardcore math/science devotee.
Advanced Academy of Georgia (AAG): Located in the State University of West Georgia, the AAG accepts 11th and 12th graders and lets them stay for 2 years or 1 year (respectively) to take college courses. The students get their diploma from their old school, but get to take college courses.
Georgia Academy of Mathematics, Engineering and Science (GAMES): Middle Georgia College offers a program for high school juniors and seniors that gives them an intense math/science education. Students can get AS degrees in any sciency field except engineering. Students take the courses with the rest of the student body, but live in a separate dorm. Students looking for a BA or BS transfer elsewhere, as Middle Georgia College is only a two-year college.
Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science (TAMS): This residential program, brought to you by the University of North Texas, is the largest early entrance program to date (200 kids/year). Juniors can enroll to take college classes for two years and then get a diploma. Students take a smattering of math and science courses, with some English for good measure. Texans only.
Texas Academy of Leadership in the Humanities (TALH): Similar to TAMS, the TALH program brings kids to Lamar University who are interested in humanities instead of science. Kids enter after 10th grade and take college classes while earning their diploma. Students are expected to spend their extracurricular time volunteering and doing community service to develop leadership skills. Texans only.
Early Honors Program (EH): If you ever said that you'd rather be in Alaska than suffer one more year of high school, your dreams just might come true. Alaska Pacific University replaces students' senior years with 2 semesters of college. The first semester is all required coursework but the second semester is all electives.
The Clarkson School's Bridging Year (TCS): Clarkson University also offers a program for high school seniors to take college courses. There is no core curriculum, but most of the students are more technologically inclined. About 30% of the students decide to stay at Clarkson, while the rest matriculate elsewhere.
Early College Enroll in a regular college program before you are of regular age.
University of Washington Academy for Young Scholars (UWA): That's right, the University of Washington has two programs for underage students: TS/EEP and this. This program is for kids who have finished 10th grade, as opposed to TS/EEP, which is for younger kids. Enrolling in this program is just like matriculating, except for the two week "bridge" course at the beginning, the extra counseling, and the fact that the students all commute from home (at least for the first two years).
Resident Honors Program (RHP): This program enrolls students a year early and puts them on the honors track at University of Southern California. The only difference is the extra support provided by counselors.
National Academy of Arts, Sciences and Engineering (NAASE): The University of Iowa enrolls students after their junior year. This is the only early entrance program affiliated with a research university, so this is the perfect program for you if you're looking to get your science on.
If you are considering one of these programs, it is important to know what you're getting into. Younger students are less likely to be mature enough for a more demanding education, and end up struggling through or dropping out of these programs. If you are just looking for a way out of high school, these are probably not for you. But, if you really want to get on with your education, this might be the perfect opportunity.