Students stay one step ahead with early college high schools at San Jacinto College
PASADENA, Texas - San Jacinto College (SJC) is now home to two early college high school programs, providing more students with an economical fast track toward earning their associate degree.
March 20-26 is Early College High School Week across the country, a time when students, administrators, parents, community leaders, and legislators recognize the impact of early college high schools (ECHS). These schools are designed to provide students with a chance to earn a high school diploma, while completing two years of college at the same time. Early college students fare better than national averages in high school graduation rates, according to the Jobs for the Future organization; the four-year graduation rate for early college high schools was approximately 92 percent in 2008.
It’s a path that Marisa Rodriguez is grateful she chose after enrolling at Clear Horizons Early College High School (CHECHS) at San Jacinto College during her sophomore year of high school with the Clear Creek Independent School District (CCISD).
"It was the best decision I ever made," said Rodriguez, who is now a pre-med student at Austin College. "I now recognize how Clear Horizons gave me the confidence I needed to accomplish my goals. It’s always funny to see the reactions people get when I tell them that I earned my associate degree before I even got my high school diploma."
While attending early college high school Clear Horizons, Rodriguez was accepted into an internship program at Texas Children's Hospital, a rare opportunity for any high school student. There, she shadowed an anesthesiologist and observed surgeries.
"I can say that 'I know' I want to pursue pediatrics because I actually have experience working in the medical field within that area, not just because I ‘like biology.'” said Rodriguez. "I encourage others not to miss out on opportunities like early college high school. College admissions staff love seeing how you applied yourself in a college setting while you were still in high school."
Established in 2007, CHECHS is a charter school that serves approximately 400 students at the SJC South campus. It is the result of a partnership between Clear Creek ISD and SJC to provide students the opportunity to earn their high school diploma while completing their first two years of college at the South campus. All course work is at the Pre-Advanced Placements and Advanced Placement levels. In addition to regular degree course work, service learning hours and internships are required of all students.
“Being a part of the implementation team for Clear Horizons has been an amazing experience,” said Pam Campbell, SJC assistant vice chancellor for educational partnerships. “The Clear Creek ISD leadership went to great lengths to find the right personnel to start and to continue this project. It has also been rewarding to have the support of the San Jacinto College senior leadership team to make this project successful. South campus has become ‘family’ to these students.”
The school earned a Texas Education Agency (TEA) Exemplary rating for 2008, 2009, and 2010. Students graduate each year with an associate degree from San Jacinto College three weeks before walking across the stage and receiving a high school diploma from CCISD.
The Pasadena Early College Program at the Central campus will began in Fall 2011. The program will offer high school students college courses at both Pasadena High School and SJC. The program will allow students to earn up to 60 college credits while completing their high school diploma.
"Early college high schools provide a wonderful opportunity for students, who might not otherwise be able to attend college, get a head start and graduate from high school with most or all of their associate degree earned from San Jacinto College," said Jaynie Mitchell, director of dual credit and early admission at SJC Central.
Texas is home to more than 40 early college high school programs.
About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for nearly 50 years. We are committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of more than 29,000 students in over 140 degree and certificate options, including university transfer and career-track choices. Students also benefit from the College’s workforce training programs, renowned for meeting the needs of ever-changing industry in the region. San Jacinto College. Your Goals. Your College.
For more information about San Jacinto College, please visit www.sanjac.edu or call 281-998-6150.