Case study : students, parents, educator perspectives on the early start experience
Lyons, Rebecca Lea
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Early start programs were initially developed to provide high school students with a jump start on college credit. In order to determine the effectiveness and transferability of early start programs, post-secondary education administrators and high school counselors need to have an in-depth understanding of students' early start experience. This qualitative case study examined the early start experience from the viewpoint of 20 college students who previously participated in an early start program such as Advanced Placement or dual credit while in high school; the students interviewed attended the same four-year research university. With the students' consent, eight mothers of the former early start participants were interviewed to gain an understanding of their view of the early start experience. In addition, a director of admissions at a four-year research university was interviewed to provide insight on the early start experience from a post-secondary education perspective. Document analysis of student academic transcripts evaluated the transferability of early start courses to a four-year research university. This research discovered that students participated in early start because they want to be challenged while in high school. The students took it upon themselves to initiate the early start conversation with their parents. Contrary to what has been reported in the literature, students in this study felt their high school teachers played more of a role in the early start experience than their high school counselor. The analysis of the academic transcripts revealed that early start courses fulfilled general education and elective credits at this one institution. The in-depth exploration of the early start experience provided insight on how secondary education and post-secondary education may work together to continue providing an early college experience for high school students.