Jackson County Early College is an innovative, collaborative school housed on Southwestern Community College’s campus in Sylva, NC. JCEC enables students to earn a high school diploma and an associate degree or college credential in five years. With only 140 students in grades 9 – 13, JCEC offers a mature learning environment where students delve into rigorous honors level curriculum with project-based learning, seminar style discussions, group work and cross-curricular projects. The small class size gives JCEC the ability to personalize academic planning to meet student goals, help students develop leadership potential and prepare for their futures. Developing supportive relationships with peers, staff and instructors, forming community connections during service learning opportunities, and finding ways to help students see the relevance of choices today in relationship to their future life goals are cornerstones of JCEC’s philosophy. Regardless of the changing external environment of education, the four principles guiding all decisions, planning and curriculum design at JCEC are education, leadership, service and community. JCEC strongly believes that we are building the community leaders of tomorrow.
As part of the community at SCC, JCEC students have access to a college campus rich with resources. Students can take advantage of the many computer labs, the community college library system, specialized program equipment, and rich academic supports including the Learning Assistance Center and online, group and individual tutoring. Developing skills that will set them apart from their peers, JCEC students learn early to balance their busy workload, manage their time according to their unique high school and college schedules and develop self-advocacy skills and the resourcefulness to be successful in their next steps.
Most Early College students work towards an Associate in Arts degree or Associate in Science degree in College Transfer. After completing this degree, students are able to transfer credits from SCC to any of the 16 North Carolina public universities, meeting all general education requirements. Students enter the university having completed 60 or more hours of college coursework while in high school. Students who are interested in certificates, diplomas and Associate of Applied Science degrees graduate from high school with a college credential that will make them more marketable directly after graduation.
Students must undergo an application process that includes all the following to be considered for admission: submission of academic transcript with school grades and attendance, teacher/counselor recommendations, a list of goals, and an explanation of the student’s experiences in school. Students are required to attend a Group Interview Event where they write and submit an essay and participate in a group interview. The interview allows the student, Jackson County Early College instructors and staff, and Southwestern Community College staff to determine whether JCEC is the best fit. Eighth grade students who are interested in attending Jackson County Early College as freshmen complete the application process during the fall semester of their 8th grade year. Although there are occasional opportunities for students to begin JCEC at the start of their 10th grade year, this is less common.