Carter attended an information session on DeKalb Early College Academy and was sold. In May, she graduates with a high school diploma and an associate of science degree in psychology from Georgia Perimeter College.
“I thought it would be great for me to get jump on a college classes and earn a degree,” Carter said. “I like the challenge that came with being a participant in the program and the idea that I could get a college degree before I even walked across the stage to accept my high school diploma. That’s pretty cool.”
Carter, who plans to transfer to Agnes Scott College and major in English, wants to one day become a copy editor.
As the nation celebrates Early College Week, through Sunday, Gina Gavin, director of Early College programs at Georgia Perimeter, reflects on the accomplishments of the institution’s programs.
“These early college programs are important because they allow students to earn transferable college credits and associate degrees while completing their high school requirements,” Gavin said. “It’s a new approach based on academic rigor combined with the opportunity to save time and money, which is a great motivator. Our programs target all types of students — the over-achiever as well as the student who is disengaged from the educational system. We help them all navigate the college system to find greater success in life.”
Established in 2006 through a joint partnership with DeKalb County School District and Georgia Perimeter, the academy allows college-ready high school students from underrepresented groups to spend their first two years of high school at the academy in Stone Mountain and their upperclassmen years at the Georgia Perimeter Clarkston campus.
Academy students at the college earn high school and college credits simultaneously through dual enrollment. Early college students are not required to complete an associate degree, but they all graduate from high school with some college credits in the bank.
In addition to the academy and traditional dual enrollment, which targets students with a 3.0 GPA or higher, Georgia Perimeter is home to Gateway to College Academy. Gateway enrolls high school dropouts ages 16 to 20 and allows them to simultaneously earn high school and college credits. The program, housed at the Clarkston campus, provides intensive advising, counseling and mentoring.
Gateway was the only option for one student. Christina Ross, 19, was expelled from high school for a year after pulling a fire alarm.
“I couldn’t attend any other public high schools, and I saw Gateway as an opportunity to start fresh,” Ross said.
After two years in the program, Ross graduates May 9 with a high school diploma and about 22 college credits. She plans to study nursing at Georgia Perimeter.
“I would recommend Gateway to others who are struggling in high school because we get so much support from the tutors and the staff, and the program is organized to help us succeed,” Ross said. “The staff expects more from us, and then we learn to expect more from ourselves.”