The best and worst of early college

There are only 400 schools in the United States that give high school seniors the chance to start college early and Vermont State University Castleton is one of them.

Early College gives seniors an opportunity to become a full-time student at college; an opportunity that has many advantages – but also disadvantages.

When taking classes at college, seniors can can still play sports at their high school and take part in their activities such as dances and Spirit Week.

Although it may be difficult, it is manageable.

“It was difficult having to stay on top of my work to pass my classes, as well as juggling trying to stay in touch with my high school,” said Kiersten Hanselman, a senior at Fair Haven.

This may seem like a sacrifice missing out on some high school life, but early college students say there are many advantages that people may not even think about.

Students can learn if college is right for them, and some say they use this experience to see if they want to continue in college or maybe go a different path.

“This past year there were over 100 students in the early program across our university. We have seen the numbers quadrupling in size,” said Maurice Ouimet the vice president of Admissions and Enrollment.

Many Early College students, like fellow Fair Haven senior Emilee Higgins, say they have enjoyed this experience and would encourage upcoming seniors to investigate it.

“Early College is such a fantastic opportunity for students from all backgrounds. I love that you have more time to focus on yourself, studying and doing your schoolwork to the best of your abilities and you can choose your own classes and work towards your goals faster,” she said.

And if students don’t have a major in mind yet, they can take several types of classes to see what they have an interest in. Or if students do have a major in mind, they can take classes that will help them and use those credits as they continue along that path.

Depending on what college you go to, all the credits that you earn from early college courses can transfer. If students stay at Castleton, all of the credits you earn count.

Professors say they love to have Early College students in classes.

“I’ve always enjoyed having students in class from a variety of backgrounds, which is difficult in Vermont, said Sociology professor Phil Lamy. “Last year I had 2 or 3 early college students in my class, and they were about the best in the class!”

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