A head start on college, careers

Chicago will open five early college high schools that give students six years to earn a high school diploma, an associate degree (or two years of college credit) and job credentials that will put them “first in line” for an interview at high-tech companies.

Partnering with employers that need skilled workers is an up-and-coming version of early college high schools, I write on U.S. News.  Five-year and six-year programs are growing popular as students seek an affordable route to a college degree or a skilled job.

“It has just now hit me how far ahead I really am,” writes Emily G. Fore, a 2011 graduate of Caldwell Early College High, a five-year program that’s part of North Carolina’s New Schools Project (NSP). “I’m 18 with a 2-year degree. I qualify for some full time jobs already … As our school motto says, ‘Ready for college. Ready for career. Ready for life.’”

Early college high schools focus on low-income, minority and immigrant students who otherwise might not be on the college track. Those who pass gateway college courses in English and math in high school will skip remedial courses in college, greatly increasing their odds of success.

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