By Holly Desrosier
With the end of the school year fast approaching, many eighth graders are starting to prepare for the transition into high school. Now is also the time to apply for early college, an innovative high school program located on Craven Community College’s (Craven CC) New Bern and Havelock campuses.
Established through a partnership with Craven CC and Craven County Schools in 2006, the early college program is divided into two branches. Craven Early College (CEC) is housed on the Craven CC New Bern Campus, while the Havelock Campus is home to the Early College of Eastern Applied Sciences and Technology (EAST), or ECE, which was formed through a partnership with Craven CC and NAV Air aboard the MCAS Cherry Point.
The program is part of the Cooperate Innovative High School program in North Carolina. It offers a non-traditional high school and college hybrid experience within a five-year period, enabling students to earn a high school diploma while also earning college credit. Students have the opportunity to complete the program with an associate degree in the arts, science or engineering, or 60 hours of transferable college credit toward a bachelor’s degree in arts or science at a four-year university. There are also options to earn certificates, diplomas and degrees in a variety of career programs available through Craven CC.
The early college program offers several unique benefits over the traditional high school experience, such as smaller class sizes. The student-teacher ratio averages 17 to 1, which helps build relationships and confidence in the classroom and enables a more personalized experience. It also offers tutoring and intervention services, as well as access to Craven CC’s Academic Skills Center and college and career advisors.
Because students are earning both a high school diploma and college credits, there will be a heavier workload and higher expectations. Applicants need to possess the maturity to keep up with schoolwork in a college environment. There is no cost for college classes or textbooks while students are active in the program, and buses are available for transportation in conjunction with local high schools.
“I think we provide a unique opportunity and different options within Craven County Schools for students to have a personalized environment where relationships are the primary focus,” said Todd Bradley, CEC principal since 2013. “The second opportunity is we have the ability to challenge students with academic rigor. We also look at students who are first generations who can benefit from the accelerated curriculum.”
The structure of the early college program fosters innovation and creativity though advanced academics, close-knit interactions and connections to workplace knowledge and skills. It is centered on improving graduation rates and preparing students for lifelong learning and entry into high-skill careers.
“It’s a smaller learning community,” said Bradley. “It really challenges students to reach their potential.”
Any eighth grade student who resides in Craven County and is enrolled in a public, private or home school is eligible to apply. Applicants are selected by a lottery system conducted by the SERVE Center at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Fifty students are accepted to each early college location annually.
Both CEC and ECE were recognized on Jan. 17 for being one of 13 schools in the district to receive the distinction of meeting and exceeding academic growth based on the 2017-18 school year. CEC was recognized for a 100-percent graduation rate for three years in a row, and ECE received a certificate of achievement for the outstanding graduation rate of 97.3 percent. The U.S. News & World Report has also recognized CEC as a bronze medal high school in their national rankings.
The application process will be open from Feb. 1 through Feb. 28, 2019. No applications will be accepted after Feb. 28. The preferred method for applying is online at www.cravenk12.org/CEC or www.cravenk12.org/ECE. For those without internet access, paper applications may be obtained from any Craven County public middle school or either early college location.
The early college teams will meet with all eighth grade classes in Craven County for an introduction to the program. Information sessions began Tuesday, Jan. 22 at Grover C. Fields and will continue Wednesday, Jan. 23 at ECE on the Havelock Campus and Thursday, Jan. 24 at West Craven Middle School from 6-7 p.m. Homeschooling and private school parents are encouraged to attend one of these meetings.
Any questions or requests for tours may be directed to CEC in New Bern at 252-637-5706 or ECE in Havelock at 252-444-5194.