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Early College

What is Early College?


Early College High Schools (ECHS) are defined as small, autonomous schools generally located on a college campus which provide accelerated education to a wide range of high school students, typically beginning in the ninth-grade year. This five year program offers students the opportunity to concurrently earn a high school diploma and an Associate’s Degree or technical certificate.

What does the Early College offer?

  • a mature learning environment
  • a rigorous honors-level high school curriculum
  • small class size
  • a personalized schedule
  • project-based & portfolio-based learning
  • supportive relationships
  • relevance to future life goals
  • preparation for college and careers

For more information about ECHS in North Carolina, visit the NC New Schools website.

For more information about ECHS across the nation, visit The Early College High School Initiative website.

Who does the Early College serve?

The target population is the under-represented or underserved student in higher education (low-income, minority, or first-generation college students). Early Colleges may also serve students other than those who are underserved/under-represented in higher education, thus incorporating a wide range of personalities, abilities and academic experiences into the student body.



Blue Ridge Early College
Located in Cashiers on the Blue Ridge School Campus
Contact information:
Liaison / School Counselor, Dr. Paula Kennedy,
Jackson County Early College*
Located in Sylva on Southwestern Community College’s Jackson Campus
Contact information:
School Counselor, Melissa Hill, 828.339.4235 or

*Jackson County Early College may accept students from Swain County with the approval of the Superintendent of Swain County Public Schools.  
Macon Early College
Located in Franklin on Southwestern Community College’s Macon Campus
Contact information:
Liaison / Career Development Coordinator, Jill VanOrder, 828.306.7016 or
School Counselor, Kathy Breedlove,


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