AN EARLY COLLEGE HIGH SCHOOL CASE STUDY: EXPERIENCES THAT IMPACT SELF-IDENTIFIED COLLEGE READINESS
The purpose of this case study is to explore the experiences of high school seniors participating in and Early College High School program and identify their self-perceived levels of college readiness. The study emphasizes self-identified predictions of preparedness in four college readiness component areas, identified by Conley (2007a, 2007b), including academic/subject matter preparedness, cognitive skill development, academic behaviors, and college knowledge (i.e. contextual knowledge of college). The study identified student self-perceptions through rigorous 30-60 minute interviews with a cohort of eight students at the participating research site, an Early College High School in the Upstate region of South Carolina. Data emerging from student interviews were analyzed against the backdrop of programmatic mission, vision, and methodologies. The study found that students had generally positive experiences and identified high levels of college readiness in English and science preparation. Students reported mixed levels of preparedness in mathematics and social sciences. Cognitive skills were developed most heavily in English coursework and through project-based learning. Students identified a mix of academic behaviors and acknowledged a needed change in those behaviors to successfully transition to being a full-time college student. Finally, students identified high levels of readiness in transitioning socially and organizationally to college as a result of high self-perceived levels of college knowledge. Financial aid, however, was identified as a significant area of weakness in both experiences and preparedness.