A new partnership between the University of Utah and Alta High School is the latest option Utah students have to earn college credit from a Utah System of Higher Education (USHE) institution while still in high school. Several USHE institutions have similar partnerships with area high schools to help students get going on college classes while still in high school. Step2theU allows admitted students at Alta High School to start taking classes at the University of Utah’s Sandy campus the summer after their junior year. By the time those students enter the U full-time, they can have two semesters completed—saving them as much as $10,000 in tuition, fees, and other costs.
USHE Early College High Schools
Similar to partnerships like Step2thU, there are six high schools in Utah that have partnered with USHE institutions to allow students to earn a significant amount of college credit while still in high school. These public charter high schools combine traditional high school classes, concurrent enrollment classes, and early college on-campus classes to accelerate their students’ progress. A large percentage of students who graduate from an Early College High School graduate high school with an associate degree. The high school pays the participating student’s college tuition as part of their public education.
Early College High School Partnerships:
- Academy for Math, Engineering and Science (AMES) – University of Utah
- Intech Collegiate High School – Utah State University
- Northern Utah Academy for Math, Engineering and Science (NUAMES) – Weber State University
- Success Academy – Southern Utah University/Dixie State University
- Utah County Academy of Sciences (UCAS) – Utah Valley University
- Itineris Early College High School – Salt Lake Community College
While there are several other Utah schools that offer an early college experience, Early College High Schools are the only schools with explicit partnerships with a USHE institution that offers transferrable college credit, helping students build a solid foundation of college coursework in high school that best helps them achieve their college goals.
Early College High Schools have a proven track record of high performance for their students: All six schools were among the 14 public high schools that received an “A” grade by the Utah State Board of Education’s School Grading Assessment. More importantly, a recent study by a professor at Westminster College concluded participation in Utah’s Early College High School programs improve students’ probability of high school graduation by an average of 27.4%, improve postsecondary higher education enrollment by 35.7%, and increase the probability of Utah public higher education graduation by 35%.
Programs like Step2theU and Early College High Schools would not be possible without the opportunities concurrent enrollment courses provides by allowing Utah high school juniors and seniors to earn college credit from a USHE institution. First established in 1985, concurrent enrollment college credit is only offered by USHE institutions. Over ⅓ of all high school juniors and seniors in Utah enroll in a concurrent enrollment course, which are available to all 41 school districts and 27 charter and alternative high schools throughout the state. Students enrolled in concurrent enrollment courses saved students an estimated $32.5 million in foregone tuition at USHE colleges and universities in 2014-15. A recent analysis also shows students who enroll in any kind of concurrent enrollment course are three times more likely to enroll in college after high school graduation, helping those students with a smoother transition from high school graduation to college.