Developed in partnership with the NC Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI), the NC Community College System and the University of North Carolina, the early college high school initiative launched in 2004 as a way to encourage more students to complete high school and to gain the advanced skills increasingly demanded in the 21st century workplace. Early colleges aim to graduate students who earn a high school diploma as well as two years of transferable college credit or an associate degree — all at no cost to their families. The target population for early colleges is first-generation college-goers, those at-risk of dropping out or other historically underserved populations.
The first early college in Wake County, Wake Early College of Health and Sciences turns 14 during the 2019-2020 school year. The continued success of WECHS graduates is a testament to the early college model. In 2019, WECHS graduates earned the following accolades:
- 92% of graduates earning a Wake Tech degree or diploma
- 14 graduates earned Certified Nursing Assistant certification
- 4 graduates earned Phlebotomy certification
- 6 earned Emergency Medical Technician certification
- Over 2.3 million in scholarships and grants were awarded.