High school juniors start college careers early

Students from Dallas’ Samuell High School work during a recent study hall. About 100 high schoolers attend Eastfield, working toward simultaneous high school and associate’s degrees.
Students from Dallas’ Samuell High School work during a recent study hall. About 100 high schoolers attend Eastfield, working toward simultaneous high school and associate’s degrees.
Students from Dallas’ Samuell High School work during a recent study hall. About 100 high schoolers attend Eastfield, working toward simultaneous high school and associate’s degrees.
By Clay Gibson

Eastfield is offering a new program on campus that helps high school students become assimilated into college life and achieve their dreams.

Early College started three years ago in Dallas’ Samuell High School and the first generation of students arrived on campus this semester.

The students go through the last two years of high school and the first two years of college simultaneously. On graduation day, they can collect high school diplomas and associate’s degrees, either in arts or sciences, at the same time.

Eastfield will launch a similar partnership with Spruce High School in fall 2015.

Chris Moore, 25, the Dallas school district administrator who has an office on campus, is enthusiastic about the opportunity that DISD and DCCCD are presenting to these students.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for students to graduate with collegiate experience,” he said.

Eastfield offers the students free tuition, and Dallas Independent School District pays for books and standardized tests.

While at Samuell, the students take Pre-AP classes and are transitioned into college-style courses. They give up some regular high school activities such as sports.

After completing the first two years at Samuel, the students come to Eastfield to take college and high school classes on campus. The 100 students in the program this year have been together for three years already and have gotten close to each other.

The students are also enthusiastic about the program. “It’s cool because I already have everything done and can get to my major faster,” said Ariella Velasquez, 16, an English major.

“It is not rushing education. It is a good awakening to the different world outside of high school.”

While most students are scared of their new responsibilities of leaving high school behind and becoming college students so early, Job Murillo accepts the challenge ahead of him.

When asked how the added difficulty of this program compared to high school has influenced his education, he relates it to his advancement in life.

“I learn new stuff and the last couple of years have helped me realize that,” he said.

William Allen said the courses “are somewhat fast and include a lot of writing.” But although there’s additional pressure from a collegiate course load,

Allen, who wants to major in sports medicine, found the transition manageable.

“Some stuff is hard,” he said, but “you get used to it and experience college sooner.”

 

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