Class at 12:30pm: The Early College Program

It was 8:00am. Luca Montore woke up and looked his alarm clock. He still had three hours to sleep. His previous high school, U-32 would require him to be at school right now. But not this year.

Montore is enrolled in Vermont’s Early College Program taking all of his classes at the Community College of Vermont. The program – that lets students earn high school and college credits simultaneously – was created by the Flexible Pathways initiative in 2013. More and more high school seniors are leaving their typical school day to enroll in early college.

“CCV classes are only once a week so the homework load is a lot more than U-32’s,” Montore said. “I have one class four days a week and an online class on top of that, but you only come in two, three hours a class.”

“Most people just come in to get there classes over with so they get there credits, so there’s not as much of a community as there is at U-32.” Montore is still a part of the U-32 community being able to still be involved and playing high school sports like lacrosse and hockey.

Anna Braun, another U-32 senior, is also attending early college at CCV. “It’s definitely the perfect medium between college and high school challenge wise,”  Braun says. “In high school I felt like I had more of a crutch. It  prepares me to be more resourceful for when I go to college.”

Some people have their doubts about early college. “There’s really no research on how effective early college is.” English teacher Alden Bird said.  Some teachers who work at an early college program are not actual full time teachers, he explained.  They may not have all the techniques and skills that some of the full time teachers at a highschool like U-32 would have.

There’s lots of advantages to doing early college according to U-32 counselor Lisa Laplante “You can walk away from your senior year with anywhere from 24-30 college credits.”  

With so many free college credits available, the population of U-32 students going to early college has increased from 3 students in 2014 to 12 this year.

Laplante pointed out that, “we still work with the students, right? We still work with our students who are doing all their college planning.”

High schools like U-32 are losing money with each student’s tuition.  The school gets $18,056 to budget for each kid enrolled at U-32. With twelve kids doing early college this year that means that $216,672  is lost from the school’s budget.

With more seniors choosing early college, the school could be affected financially.   “They do take all the tuition money that we would get,” Laplante said. “Could it be a strain on local budgets? ….we should see how it plays out.”