Early college programs are growing in popularity, and it’s no surprise. They provide the opportunity to earn college credits while also completing your high school requirements—and what could be better than that?
In this blog post, we outline some helpful information about early college, including the types of early college programs that exist and why choosing early college can help set you up for success.
What is early college?
Early college is an umbrella term for a variety of options that allow students to earn college credits before they graduate from high school. For example, at Bethel University, early college options include PSEO, dual enrollment, and college in the Schools.
- PSEO (a.k.a. postsecondary enrollment options) is a program that allows Minnesota high school juniors or seniors the chance to enroll in college courses at no cost. Whether you take courses on campus or online, your tuition, textbook costs, and course fees are covered entirely by the State of Minnesota.
- Dual enrollment is similar to PSEO, but designed for students who don’t qualify for PSEO (for example, if they live outside the state of Minnesota). At Bethel University, dual enrollment students pay a special tuition rate, which is still a significant discount compared to typical tuition and course costs.
- College in the Schools courses are offered on select high school campuses and taught by Bethel-approved high school instructors. Like PSEO and dual enrollment, students can receive both high school and college credit simultaneously. College in the Schools classes are also provided at no cost to the student.
Why should I consider early college?
The cost of attending college continues to rise, but participating in early college programs can quite literally save you thousands of dollars by reducing the number of general education courses you need to take down the line.
Taking advantage of early college options can give you more flexibility in your later college years. You might be able to graduate early and enter the career field sooner than your peers. Or, instead of graduating early, you might choose to add another major or minor to diversify your degree.
3. College readiness.
Early college acts as an excellent stepping stone between high school and college. You’ll have the opportunity to practice skills like time management, communication, organization, and relationship building in a college environment, while you still have your high school support systems.
4. Early degree completion.
If you take early college classes full time and start your junior year, it’s quite possible that you could complete your Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree before you graduate from high school. Since college commencement ceremonies typically take place mid-May, you may even be able to walk across a university stage and receive a college degree before you receive your high school diploma.
5. Authentic campus experience.
Choosing the college you’ll presumably attend for four years can be overwhelming, but early college options like PSEO and dual enrollment can provide you with the opportunity to see what life is like at a specific college. At Bethel University, early college students are valued members of the community and treated just like any other undergraduate student. You’ll have access to academic resources, clubs and organizations, our health and wellness facilities, and more.
How do I get started?
If you’re interested in pursuing early college options, there are a few initial steps you can take to get started.
- Talk to your high school counselor. They can help you figure out whether early college is a good fit for you and will likely play a key role in helping you ensure that the college courses you take meet your high school requirements.
- Connect with an admissions counselor. An admissions counselor at your college of interest can talk you through admissions requirements and help give you a picture of what early college could look like for you.
- Apply! If you’re ready and want to get started at the beginning of next term, submit your application. Best wishes on your early college adventure!
Interested in Early College at Bethel? Visit our early college website or connect with Katie, one of our early college admissions counselors. She knows all there is to know about early college at Bethel and would love to answer your questions and walk alongside you as you consider your options.