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Early College Academies for High School Students
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What is it?


Early college program for high school juniors and seniors on the college campus to earn 43-44 college credits towards an engineering or related degree Total credits = 43-44 - Course sequence:

  • Junior fall – Academic Excellence Seminar, Pre-calculus, General Physics (Algebra based) - 12 credits

  • Junior spring – General Physics II (Algebra based), Calculus I, Principles of Engineering – 12 credits

  • Senior fall – Physics with Calc I, Programming for Engineering and Science, Calculus II – 12 credits

  • Senior spring – Physics with Calc II, Math/Science elective – 7 to 8 credits


How is it done?

  • Rely on K-12 Outreach Director and a full-time learning community coordinator who actively supports the students.

  • Recruit HS sophomores in the Spring to apply, take a math placement test (Accuplacer), score at a college algebra level II or above; interview students with their parents.  

  • Good candidates who do not meet the required math score participate in a modular math program.  In one summer 8 of 10 participating students achieved the math score requirements and enrolled.

  • Enrolled students take traditional classes at their high school in the morning and college classes in the afternoon simultaneously earning reverse credits (concurrent credits) which apply toward their high school graduation requirements.

  • Students agree to use tutoring as needed and go through a 2-day summer bridge program to ease their transition.

  • Provide students with financial support for tuition and books using a $500K endowment established by the College Foundation.

  • Budget: Approximately $3500 per student


What are the results?

After 5 years:

  • 60 to 70 students apply each year; 35 students are accepted and enroll.

  • Impact on recent participants (40 students):

  • 75% felt the RSA positively affected their education or career goals.

  • 84% intend to complete a 4-year degree or higher.  

  • 29% plan to continue their education at the college

  • Completion rate of the first four cohorts (85 students):

  • 36% completed the entire 4-semester program

  • 7% completed three semesters.

  • Post-secondary pursuits of the first four cohorts

  • 93% continue with post-secondary education regardless of completion

  • 61% enroll in STEM majors.  

  • 84% who completed three or four semesters enroll in STEM majors.


What have we learned?

  • Provide students with financial support

  • Students will meet high expectations

  • Student services, monitoring and support are crucial

  • Monitor parental involvement

  • Have a strategy in place to handle student failure and attrition

  • Impose a heavy work load immediately;  Lighten it up at the end - Modify the program as needed

  • Place all students into pre-calculus

  • Develop a good relationship with K-12 and universities

  • Keep the cohort together and isolated their junior year; blend the cohort into the general population during the senior year

  • After graduating from high school, students can continue and earn their Associate of Science (AS) degree in Engineering by taking 16-17 additional credits

Private donations fund our operating budget, education and research efforts.

Science Foundation Arizona

400 E. Van Buren Street, Suite 300
Phoenix, AZ 85004
Tel. (602) 682-2800
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