The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The Early College speaks

They look like you, only slightly younger. They talk like you but lack your experience. They even walk like you, only a little more hurried. They are in classes with you, but do you know who they are? They are members of that group called the Early College.The Early College at Guilford (ECG) is a concept that’s not yet concrete in the minds of many Guilford students. Some on campus have questions about ECG students, their curriculum, living arrangements and more.

“I have answered hundreds of questions,” said Eric Cheek, ECG senior. Everybody has this curiosity.”

Emily Stainkamp, also an ECG senior, said that, after answering some of their questions, most college students said, “I wish I could have done that.”

For those of you in a fog about the Early College, here is a quick synopsis of how the school works:

ECG, is a high school, not a “program.” Founded in 2002, the school enrolls students from ninth through twelfth grades. Getting in is a competitive process. It involves evaluations of candidates’ academic achievement, personal essays, test results, recommendations, interests and activities.

In 2007, Newsweek Magazine ranked the school number 14 out of more than 1300 public high schools in the nation. There are 195 students enrolled in the Early College and the school is the first of its kind in the state of North Carolina.

Once accepted, ninth and tenth graders take honors and advanced placement courses. After completing tenth grade, students must apply for acceptance into Guilford College. Eleventh and twelfth graders then enroll in college classes.

The majority of high school graduation requirements are completed in ninth and tenth grades, but any remaining requirements are completed through Guilford classes. For example, ENG 151-HP can be taken in lieu of English 12.

Provided that Early College students pass their college courses with a C or better, Guilford County Schools pays for the courses and most of their books.

“They get their books for free, so I am kind of jealous,” said Kirstan Duckett, first-year traditional student.

Early College students graduate with two years of college behind them. Even though the school does not have any sports teams, students have numerous clubs and student organizations. Athletes may participate in sports at their district schools.

“You’re talking about 14-15 year olds taking advanced placement courses, with most of them completing five by the end of their sophomore year,” said Kim Spell, school counselor. “Most high school seniors do not even do that. The curriculum is very rigorous.”

Despite the rigor, these students understand the opportunities afforded them. “Most people appreciate that what they have here is way beyond what most high school students get for essentially the same price,” Cheek said.

The affiliation with Guilford College has greatly shaped the nature of Early College.

“The partnership with Guilford College has been a key reason for our school’s success,” said Charles Blanchard, ECG principal. “Guilford College was willing to collaborate with Guilford County Schools to provide an opportunity for highly motivated, higher achieving students in Guilford County.”

Asked how ECG students fit in at Guilford, Stainkamp said “I have made conscious efforts to become a part of the community, understanding that making good grades is not the be all and end all. Using your education for positive social change is more of an ideal here at Guilford.”

Many students, like Cheek, feel a kinship to the larger campus.

“When something happens on campus I feel like it has an impact on me, because I have been on this campus for the past four years. I care about Guilford,” Cheek said.

Stainkamp added, “For a lot of us, we get to this place where we can’t really relate to high school students on a lot of levels because we are in this bubble, and in a lot of ways we also can’t relate to Guilford students because we still live at home with our parents, and we haven’t had all these experiences that they’ve had. So it’s easy to become alienated from both college students and high school students.”

There is debate over whether Early College students should inform faculty and other students of their status at Guilford. Each student handles the matter in his or her own way.

“It depends. I am not the type of person that says, ‘Hello, my name is Eric Cheek. I go to the Early College at Guilford,'” Cheek said. “But if they do ask if I am Early College, I do say yes.”

“You can’t always tell who’s Early College and who’s not,” Duckett said. “It’s good that there isn’t that distinction.”

Despite the many questions surrounding Early College, the students believe they contribute to the community.

“We are here; we exist, and we are valid people who have valuable contributions,” Stainkamp said. “Even though we may be in very different places in our lives, and that is significant, it is not necessarily a barrier to meaningful relationships between traditional students and Early College students.

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