Early College

Early college kind of fell into my lap, I didn’t plan it nor did I expect it. It was sort of a leap of faith for me. Nothless, I took that leap and went with it. I thought it was a great opportunity and so did my family. So I applied and I was accepted! I am going to be a college student for the next two years. Mars was in the program last year too, so they have the inside scoop on what’s going on on campus. Even though I was excited to start this new chapter of my life I was also anxious, I had SO many questions. Questions that would’ve helped in the beginning, questions like:

  • What is the MCPS Early College program?

Early college (EC) is a program where students can spend their 11th and 12th grade year attending Montgomery College, graduating with a high school diploma and associate degree in any major the program offers. It gives students the opportunity to get ahead of the college game, with most of the credits earned being transferable to other colleges.Β 

  • Sadly, the program is not advertised as much as other programs in school. Yes, there are banners and a website, but kids often don’t pay attention to things they aren’t specifically told about. Also, in my experience, counselors don’t really mention or bring light to these programs as much as they could. Unlike ACES, EC doesn’t have someone promoting consistently in the building it or a flier saying what it is and what it entails. There is a banner that has been next to the counseling office for a year and yet students often pass by without paying it much mind. It’s about promotion, and EC doesn’t have enough of it.

    <— EC banner found next to the counseling office

    • Do all the counselors know about it?

    Of course the counselors know about the program, but like I said, they don’t mention these programs as often as they could. So, the real question is, β€œWhy don’t counselors inform us about EC?” BHS Counselor Katryn Costenbader said, β€œAt Blake we don’t advertise early college; it is actually advertised through MCPS. They send notifications and information sessions for families; they kind of do the outreach on their end.” 

    • Do people know who Mr. Grieves is?

    Mr. Grieves is the EC coordinator for the county.  If you have a question about EC, then you go to him. He knows the steps and requirements you need to succeed. He can also email or give the email of EC officials to ask specific questions.

    • Is EC eligibility related to GPA?

    Grades do matter to EC, but with that being said to be eligible you only need a GPA of 2.75 to qualify. Which is about one C, as long as you have straight B’s you’ll be fine. You have to have at least a 2.75 by the time you graduate, you also have to either be enrolled in Algebra 2 or already completed. I’m sure it goes without saying that you are not eligible for EC if you are below a 2.75 by the time you finish 10th grade.

    • How long has it been a thing? Do people know it’s at MC?

    I believe EC has been around since 2018, so a good 5 years. Dual enrollment posters & info are usually associated with Montgomery College (ex. the poster near the counselors office)

    • How hard is it?

    I’d compare it to AP classes since they are college level, except college classes are usually lectures without the babying and lenience of the MCPS system. No loose due dates/deadlines, lectures and topics are discussed within one course period and then they move onto the next topic, etc. There aren’t any little assignments or quizzes for each lecture and it’s a must to take notes and study them come time for a weekly quiz, homework assignment, exam, etc. It’s definitely a different environment and structure to high school and students should reach out for help if they’re struggling at all because the second you fall behind, you’ll be stuck trying to catch up for pretty much the whole semester. -Mars

    • What is it like?

    It’s, well, college! Classes are very relaxed & small with only a few people so it’s easier to develop relationships with your classmates and professors, you also have the same classes & schedule with the people in your major. The schedule is less rigid and your classes are about an hour long for only 2-3 days a week, depending on your college major. -Mars

    • Will you ever come back to school?

    If you want to come back you can! Students are only required to return to their home schools for testing (MISA, PSAT, SAT) or for optional extracurriculars, which Early College students can still partake in if they wish!

    • How do you find out who else is in the program?

     You can ask our EC coordinator Mr. Grieves.

    • What’s the process of it? 

    I was sent an email detailing what the program was about and when the interest meeting was. Then you would accept online via a form and you would go from there, they tell you what to do step by step and if you have any questions you can email.-Jade I was sent a letter in the mail informing me that I’m eligible for the program during my sophomore year so I applied to the EC program, then applied for Montgomery College admission and dual enrollment admission. I got my acceptance letter via email & did the required summer prep the summer after sophomore year. Later on there’s an orientation where they explain facts & conditions of the program and you’re officially a college student!!-Mars

    • What majors do they offer? 

    They offer 18 majors in total, however, depending on which campus you attend you may be limited to different majors. If you want to see them listed out visit the EC website here.

    • Is it like high school? 

    Nope, pretty much the only thing similar to high school is your classmates; which is why it’s so beneficial to talk to each other because the professors aren’t familiar with how MCPS does things. Grades are calculated differently, assignments & deadlines are stricter, instead of canvas they use Blackboard & instead of Google they use Microsoft Office (Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, etc), the calendar is also different from MCPS. DON’T LET THAT INTIMIDATE YOU, it seems like a big deal because it’s new but sooner or later you’ll get used to it.

    • Do you get thrown into it?

    Honestly you have to prepare as much as you can over the summer before classes start. Read all the emails sent to both your personal AND college email, ask questions, follow deadlines to make sure you’re prepared; besides that your courses are explained to you by your professors. You are being treated as college freshmen and professors are aware that early college students are also still high school students, so passing your classes is definitely possible. – Mars

    • Are you in classes with other college students?

    No, your classes will only be with other EC students studying the same major as you. – Mars

    • Can you get kicked out?

    Yes! When I went in 2021 they said passing your classes is a condition for being in the Early College program so if you end the semester with a failing grade you’d unfortunately have to go back to your MCPS school. Fortunately, all professors are available to help through office hours or by reaching out via email. Students are also assigned to an EC coordinator depending on their major who is also available to help students at any time. – Mars

    • Do we need to take tests for early college?

    So far I’ve taken the ACCUPLACER test, which is a test that sees what your math, english, and reading skills are. For each section you need to score a 263 or higher for it to be sent to MC, if you don’t score a 263 then you can either retake the test or go to a summer boost program. – Jade

    • Is early college worth it?

    I think it’s worth it if you want it. You have to really ask yourself if you want to spend your 11th and 12th year in college. I think that it’s very worth it.