I am writing this blog about my experience here at Tri County Early College to give some insight on what it's like coming here as a freshman student. I moved here from Illinois a year and a half ago and I attended another school for my eighth grade year. About ¾ of the way through that year my mom told me about the Early College. At first I wasn't that interested because I had just made all these new friends and I didn't want to leave them and have to get used to a new school all over again. My mom kept talking to me about it and she was telling me that they do a lot of projects, hands-on learning, and you can get up to 2 years of free college (an associate's degree). I really liked the sound of free college! So, I ended up applying and got accepted!
After I got accepted I was actually pretty excited. For incoming freshman students they have a Summer Bridge program to introduce you into the school. This program is a week long and is the week before the actual school year starts. This program is really cool and sort of summarizes the school through some fun activities.
The school year then started and I was shocked at how different it was from what I was expecting. They have about 3 projects every year for every quarter. My first project was a very interesting experience. I got into my project group and we all didn't know each other so we introduced ourselves. It was amazing how easily you get to know and make friends with the students here - it's like you've known them all along.
For each project we have these things called "competencies," which are basically the standards you have to learn for each class to pass it. I was told that you get to choose what you want to learn for that project and connect it to your project. Now this was a big shocker because you as a student pick and choose what you want to learn and when! You also have to be able to connect them to your project because it helps you learn the material better if you connect it to real world scenarios.
Having the choice to learn what you want when you want allows the student to work at their own pace. For example, as a freshman I have the class civics and economics. Since we can work at our own pace I finished the class with about a quarter of the year still left, so I had extra time to work on other classes. So, you can be a freshman and be taking some sophomore classes if you finish a freshman class.
Now with all this freedom it is very different from a regular high school and you definitely learn to ask questions and take tons of initiative. Those are two things that I have learned to do. At this school it is almost like we're all one big grade because you get to talk to every grade pretty much all through the day and can get tons of help easily if you're stuck. You do not have to be the smartest kid in the world to come here you just need to be open to a little change. Thanks for taking the time to read this and I hope this blog helps you get a better idea of Tri-County Early College.