Early College

Some gifted teens will outgrow high school well before their scheduled graduation date. If you have such a bright-minded kid, consider yourself lucky to live in Atlanta. The metro area is home to more than a dozen colleges and universities, offering a wide array of options for embarking on college coursework.

In the past, there were two main ways to make an early transition to college: dual enrollment or early admission.

Dual enrollment (also called joint enrollment) means that a student is enrolled in high school and takes one or more courses at a college.

Georgia has established a dual enrollment scholarship program for juniors and seniors called Accel, which is available to students in public and private schools as well as accredited home schools. Accel is funded through the HOPE Scholarship program, so it’s worth noting that the classes your child takes under the Accel Program will be deducted from their total HOPE eligibility. (HOPE sets a cap of credit hours it will pay for per student.) If all goes according to plan, your child will graduate from college early and the Accel spending will be a moot point, but it’s important to know how the system works. Also be advised that students may have limited choices of classes at the college. This is especially true when using the Accel program, which will pay only for classes listed in the state’s approved course directory.

Early admission is just what the name says: skipping the senior year of high school and starting college instead. Unlike students admitted under dual enrollment, early admission students are full-fledged collegians. They can live on campus, and they can choose any classes that any other college freshman could take.

Bear in mind, early admission is a program run by the college, not by the Georgia Department of Education, so taking this route could mean your child won’t receive a high-school diploma. Check with the guidance counselor at your child’s school to find out. On the flip side, some colleges require that the student earn enough credit hours to receive their high-school diploma before they will grant early admission.

In Georgia, there’s now a third option for early college called Move On When Ready. This state-wide program for high-school juniors and seniors, launched in the 2010-11 school year, is somewhat of a hybrid between dual enrollment and early admission. In MOWR, a student is officially enrolled in a public high school but takes a full-time class load at the college level and no classes at the high school. MOWR requires students to select from the same course directory used for the Accel program.

All state colleges are required to participate in MOWR, which is open only to students who are currently enrolled in a public school. The college tuition is paid by the state; parents must pay for books and fees. Students earn high-school credit for any college coursework they successfully complete, which means they will receive a high-school diploma. MOWR students also remain eligible for extra-curricular activities at their high-school, including sports.

Students participating in MOWR may be able to take their college coursework through the state university system’s eCore online classes.

Dr. Katherine Kinnick, director of pre-college programs at Kennesaw State University, offered this advice to students choosing between Accel and MOWR:  “Students using MOWR funding must attend the college full-time and may not take any courses at their high schools. Students using Accel funding may take as little as one college course and the rest of their classes at the high school, so it is a good option for students who would like to balance a mix of AP courses while taking college courses that aren’t available through AP.  This is the route that we recommend for students who are looking at highly selective colleges, because it offers the best of both worlds.”

To compare the complete details of dual enrollment and MOWR, visit the Georgia Department of Education’s page on secondary to post-secondary transitions.

Early college options in the metro Atlanta area

Agnes Scott College: Offers joint enrollment for college seniors. Accel scholarship is accepted but won’t fully cover tuition. Apply “as early as possible but no later than one month before the start of the new semester.”

Clark Atlanta University: Offers dual enrollment to juniors and seniors who attend Atlanta Public Schools or City of Decatur Schools. Also accepts applications for early admission.

Clayton State University: Offers dual enrollment or early admission through Accel and MOWR, and they told me they have “the largest dual-enrollment program among the comprehensive universities in Georgia.”

Emory University: Offers joint enrollment and early admission (apply during junior year of high school). As a private school, Emory doesn’t participate in MOWR or Accel.

Georgia Gwinnett College: Offers dual enrollment, joint enrollment and early admission.

Georgia State University Perimeter College: Offers dual enrollment with the Accel or MOWR scholarships at all campuses.

Georgia State University: Offers dual enrollment through Accel and MOWR.

Georgia Tech: High-school juniors and seniors can take classes through dual enrollment using MOWR or Accel. High-school juniors can apply for early admission.

Kennesaw State University: Offers dual enrollment with a twist: It’s an honors program, which means high-school students can enroll in honors sections of classes. As a state college, they accept MOWR and Accel.

Oglethorpe University: Offers dual enrollment to high-school juniors and seniors as well as early admission. Their web site says students can apply anytime using the online application. Unclear whether they accept Accel or MOWR for tuition.

Southern Polytechnic State University: Offers dual enrollment through Accel or MOWR. Also offers early admission.

Spelman College: Offers dual enrollment for high school seniors in Atlanta Public Schools only.

University of West Georgia: Offers dual enrollment through MOWR at its Carrollton and Newnan campuses. The Advanced Academy program, which was an early admissions residential program for high-school upperclassmen, has been discontinued.

Links on this page were verified December 29, 2014.

  1. Annie landman
    February 4, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    After reading about accel and Mowr, it appears that Hope will be used for accel and then continue until finished up. Georgia Tech’ s websit says students who do Mowr or early admission lose all hope eligibility. Is this true?

    • February 4, 2014 at 8:55 pm

      I’ve never heard that, but can’t imagine why Tech would put it on their site if it weren’t true. Can you reply back with the URL of the page where you saw this information and maybe I can check into it?

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s