Early College High School offers BSD students an incredible opportunity

Here’s how to earn an associate’s degree as you graduate high school

By Natalie Foote

Are you a motivated sophomore or junior who doesn’t have enough credits to graduate and is wondering how to afford college? Do you dislike the high school environment? If so, Early College High School may be right for you. This two-year program allows sophomores to enter PCC in their junior year, taking classes to earn high school and college credit and earning up to an associate’s degree after two years. Juniors who are not on track to graduate can enter this program to earn college credits and graduate on time.

Elizabeth Nangle, a senior in the program, enjoys the flexibility in terms of class selection. “I really enjoy being independent and being able to make decisions about what classes I want to take. I have to follow graduation requirements but I’m able to take whatever classes that interest me!” 

This increased sense of independence comes with more responsibility, though. The program highlights that students must be “mature enough socially, emotionally and educationally to operate in the adult college setting.”

The application for the 2020-2021 school year is open until April 30th. Due to COVID-19, changes in the application process have been made so that it is entirely online. 

The first step is to attend a virtual open house, which offers insight into what steps you need to take to apply, what ECHS is like, and what kind of student it best caters to. You will need to apply to PCC, take a math placement test, obtain a recommendation from your counselor, and answer a couple of essay questions. After that, you’re done and can wait to find out if you got in on May 20th.

Still wary about whether you are up for the challenge? Nangle has some tips for incoming students. “My advice would be that you have to stay motivated. There’s a lot of down time (depending upon how many classes you take), so you may only be in class for 2-3 hours a day. Which means that you need to make sure you’re still properly studying and doing your work because your teachers aren’t going to remind you.”

As long as you are a self-motivated and hardworking student, ECHS is a great option to gain college experience in high school. And don’t worry about leaving behind your home high school: you can keep up with your friends by participating in athletics and clubs and attending events. If you identify with the above criteria, consider applying to this stellar program. 


Image from Portland Community College. ECHS students stand in front of a mural.

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