The Early College

Is Your Child Ready for College-Level Work in High School? If so, consider


Polk County Early College High School


A new and different high school program for academically motivated students


What is Polk County Early College High School?

Polk County Early College High School is a joint program of the Polk County School System, Isothermal Community College, and North Carolina’s New Schools Project. Your child has the opportunity to complete the requirements for a North Carolina high school diploma and at the same time earn college credits that will lead to early completion of an Associate’s Degree.


Instead of attending the regular high school, students will take courses at the Polk County Early College campus. Transportation will be provided to students accepted into this innovative program. Tuition and textbooks are free for college courses (certain associated fees may apply).


How will Polk County Early College High School be different from a traditional high school?

Small Classes. By design, Polk County Early College High School classes will be small, with enrollment limited to approximately 20 students per grade level from Grade 9 to Grade 13.


First Two Years of College Tuition-Free. Polk County Early College High School is designed as a five-year program to allow students to complete all high school requirements and also complete the two-year Associate’s Degree. Student tuition and textbook costs will be waived; however, there may be associated fees for which students/parents will be responsible. Students who complete the program will receive their high school diploma and an Associate’s Degree in five years. With the Associate’s Degree they may be eligible to transfer to UNC system universities as juniors. These graduates will have completed their first two years of college tuition free.  Regardless of how the hours transfer, students can graduate with up to 60 hours of college credit.


What Degrees can Polk County Early College High School students earn?

Associate in Arts Degree. Students will take courses that will prepare them for majors such as Business Administration, Criminal Justice, Elementary, Middle Grades or Special Education, English, History, Physical Education, Psychology, Social Work, and Sociology. Additional degree programs may be available depending upon student interests.


What kind of students will succeed in an Early College?

Early College is for students who are academically able to complete an aggressive, rigorous course of study, and who are able to be successful in college-level courses from Grade 9 forward. Interested students must submit an application and supporting materials, and will be chosen on the basis of academic and other criteria. As much as possible, the student population will reflect the demographics of the public school system. Serious students whose are encouraged to apply.  Students whose parents are not college educated will be given priority during the admissions process. 


Will students earn college credits?

First and second year students will be enrolled in both high school courses and community college courses. Students take dual enrollment classes—courses that earn both high school and college credit—each year. In the third and fourth years, they will take more college courses that earn college credit and are not typically offered in high schools. Students will be able to receive an Associate’s Degree at the end of the fifth year. 


What is the application process for Polk County Early College High School?

Students interested in applying to Polk County Early College High School must:

Demonstrate grade-level proficiency on End of Grade (EOG) and End of Course (EOC) tests.

Demonstrate readiness for college-level work.

Have an acceptable school attendance and discipline history.

Complete an application with a writing sample and submit an academic transcript. Grades will be reviewed to determine ability to succeed in college level coursework.

Submit three recommendations, one each from a:

o School Counselor

o Teacher and

o Community Representative (not a relative)


What information do students need to submit as part of the Early College application process?

1. Early College Application

2. Writing Sample

3. Three recommendations

4. Transcripts from grades 6, 7, and 8*

5. Attendance Profile*

6. Discipline Profile*

7. Standardized Test and EOG test scores, percentile, and level*

*You can obtain this information from your child’s middle school/high school counselor.


For more information, please contact the counselor at your school or:

Mary Metcalf Greene


Polk County Early College High School