NC Program Allows Gifted Students To Start College Early

by Josh Averbach ‘18

High school students at Sherwood and across the country work exceedingly hard to position themselves well for college applications. This is not new news. A group of gifted students in North Carolina, however, have put themselves in another stratosphere of academic rigor. These students attend the Early College at Guilford College, which US News recently ranked as the 23rd best high school in the nation, and America’s second-best high school for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Guilford College, a small liberal arts school in Greensboro, North Carolina, is home to an “Early College” program for exceptionally talented and motivated high school students.

According to the Guilford College school website, most students take honors and AP courses during their freshman and sophomore years.

These first two years provide students with a far more rigorous program than they would get at a traditional high school, as the average student takes about five AP classes.

After these first two years, students complete another two years of undergraduate courses. Because of this unique academic structure, students can finish with two years worth of college credits from Guilford College, and can enroll at Guilford or elsewhere as a junior in college. The students live at home, as it is a non-residential program.

Early College at Guilford is available only to exceptionally gifted students. Indeed, its acceptance rate is a measly 22 percent.

In comparison, the Universities of California, Berkeley and Los Angeles are the only public universities in America with lower acceptance rates. In part due to this exclusiveness, Guilford’s early college program is a small one, with just under 200 students enrolled. Its student body is considerably diverse, as it contains a majority-minority student body, and about a tenth of its members come from economic disadvantages.

Guilford’s program seeks to give students a leg up in their pursuit of higher education. This is evidenced by its virtually perfect graduation rate. In 2015, Guilford’s test takers averaged a whopping 1490 SAT score. According to the College Board, this puts the average Guilford Early College SAT score in the 97th or 98th percentile.

The total annual tuition for this program is roughly $14,000 a year. However, all accepted students may apply for financial aid.

While Guilford’s program is more expensive than the vast majority of high schools, it should be noted that many colleges, which the program seeks to emulate, cost a similar amount in order to attend.