LEANDER, Texas (KXAN) — High school students in the Leander Independent School District may soon have a chance to get a step ahead through the launch of an early college high school campus next spring.
Leander ISD is gearing up to begin the partnership with Austin Community College. Early colleges allow for students to earn either an associate degree or 60 credit hours toward a bachelor’s degree.
“We want to make sure that every incoming ninth grader knows that this is an option for them,” said Chrysta Carlin, assistant superintendent for LISD Pathways and Innovation.
If the district receives an ECHS designation, the admission process would begin in early 2022. At first, 125 students will be allowed in for one grade level next year. The program will eventually allow 125 students per grade level, making a total of 500 students in the program. If more than that apply, then Carlin says a lottery system will be applied.
“This is an opportunity for them to get their foot in the door with the resources available to them at the college level through ACC and the high school level with us as well,” said Carlin.
Carlin says the program may interest students who are seeking a smaller class setting, first generation students and those who are often underrepresented in higher education.
Leander ISD is looking to mirror an early college campus similar to Round Rock’s where graduating senior Holland Koepp goes.
“I became very acclimated, very quickly. I met students from all around town, because this school doesn’t have zones,” said Koepp.
Koepp is looking to become a future pilot. He’s already been applying to accredited four-year colleges.
“I think the classes I’ve taken, the environment I’ve been in, the challenges I’ve been put through, I think this will give me a step ahead of the mass,” said Koepp.
More than 180 certified early college high schools already operate in Texas. The Texas Education Agency website lists a dozen others in the works.
These schools often increase college readiness and takes away many of the barriers normally blocking those students from going to college. There are close to two dozen early college high schools in Central Texas. Austin Independent School District has the most, with nine.
Students in the program could not participate in traditional extracurricular activities.