Cool School: Early College Academy - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken News, Weather, Sports

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Cool School: Early College Academy

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Almost 50% of students at one local high school go straight to college. Administrators say it's because students are exposed to the academic rigor starting their junior year of high school. This weeks cool school is Early College Academy.

These high school students are filing onto a Muscogee County School Bus. But not to go to high school. They're headed to college. Columbus State University to be exact.

The 52 juniors and seniors are a part of the student body that attends Early College Academy right here in Columbus.

"You learn your do's and don't of what to do in college. You learn how to separate your play time with your study time. You learn how to function as a real college student and a high school student," said Johnell Green, a senior at Early College Academy.

The almost 170 students spend their first two years preparing for the important Compass test. If they pass this test then they can start taking classes at Columbus State University their junior year. The Compass exam tests for English knowledge, reading comprehension, and also includes an essay graded by college professors.

English teacher Christy Grigsby said after students take a diagnostic test in September of their 10th grade year, she creates an individualized learning plan to help prepare each student for the spring exam.

"If you have a student that reading comprehension they didn't score high enough on, then that student is going to be working an hour a week on reading comprehension to ensure that they are ready whenever the real test comes," said English teacher Christy Grigsby.

Grigbsy said 3 years ago only 7% of students passed the exam. Last year, 82% of students got to attend Columbus State University. She credits parental involvement and the individualized learning plans for this gain. Students get college credit for each course they take at CSU and these classes also count to finish their high school diploma. One of the best parts of this college experience is the cost.

"College is very expensive, everybody knows, and to have a chance where you could go to college for free, it's a great experience and when you get ready to go over there full time, you already know the basics so you'll be able to pass," said Ashley Jackson, a senior at Early College Academy.

Guidance counselor Towanda Hunter said tuition, books, fees, and transportation are all paid for through an Excell grant and the school district. Students start with 2 college classes their first semester. Hunter said after high school graduation, some students have enough credits to be considered sophomores in college.

If you are interested in sending your child to Early College Academy, you can visit their website at to find out more information.

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