ECA celebrates a decade of helping students excel academically

Published on May 16, 2024

Early College Academy logo.

NORTH EAST, Md: Cecil College is celebrating the tenth anniversary of its Early College Academy, where high school students graduate with an Associate Degree in General Studies just weeks before earning their high school diplomas.

The pilot program was launched in partnership with the Oxford Area School District in Chester County, Pa., back in 2014, so it is only appropriate that Oxford students will walk across the Cecil College stage during the 2024 commencement to accept their degrees. They are Sabrina Alioto, Kirstin Arnold, Mason Fetterolf, Maya Harris, Emilie Harrison, Emilee Jumper, Vivian Kearney, and Kendall Tower.

Ten years ago, Cecil College took a proactive approach to expanding its dual credit opportunities for secondary students by creating the Early College Academy (ECA). This program accepted students entering ninth grade who had demonstrated academic excellence in their class.

These students embark on their journey as freshmen, taking introductory-level college classes and participating in academic success seminars for the first two years. As they progress, they challenge themselves with higher-level courses in their major on the North East Campus during their junior and senior years, culminating in the completion of an associate of arts degree. This is a testament to their personal growth and academic excellence.

Cecil College has been at the forefront of a national trend for concurrent high school and community college learning, a trend that is more prevalent in Midwestern and Southern states than on the East Coast. The Early College Academy is a pathway to shortening the higher education process, thus reducing the cost, and preparing students for a college environment at an earlier age. This program offers numerous opportunities and benefits for our students.

At least ten states currently require high schools to offer students a chance to earn college credits. A growing body of academic studies has generally found that dual-enrollment students perform better academically both in high school and in college and require less remedial work.

Students who have graduated from Cecil College ECA have transferred with great success to four-year colleges and universities throughout the United States, including Millersville University, West Chester University, University of Pittsburgh, Pitt-Bradford-University of Pittsburgh, Drexel University, Messiah College, Penn State University, Penn State Harrisburg, Penn State Brandywine, Wilmington University, Towson University, Franklin and Marshall College, Delaware Valley University, Kutztown University, Bloomsburg University and Kansas State University.