Words of experience & wisdom from Early College students

Published 7:08 am Thursday, July 9, 2015

When I first decided to come to Rowan County Early College, I was in the 7th grade at North Rowan Middle School; now I’m about to enter my Senior year at RCEC. I understand that my decision was early, but I knew I wanted to come to RCEC.

Approximately 60 students from around the county would be able to become a part of the early college program. This means about 10 students from each middle school. When I became a freshman at RCEC, we were the fifth freshmen class; the first senior class had just graduated in 2012.

As freshmen, we were separated into different classes or Learning Communities. Though having to make new friends was difficult, it was an interesting experience. Throughout the years, I’ve made great friends but of course there were people whose wavelengths just did not match up with me and my friends.

Freshmen year was probably one of the most stressful years mainly due to high school classes like English and Math. However, other high school classes are not hard compared to what others make it out to be. If you just do your work and ask for help from teachers or your peers, RCEC is not a bad experience. College classes, to be honest, were less difficult compared to the high school classes.

Sophomore year is where one starts to have the same amount of high school classes as college classes. Like freshmen year, if you just do your work and ask questions, it won’t be hard. There’s a reason why you have friends.

Junior year and Senior year are the years where you’ll have more college classes than high school classes and more freedom. These are also the years where you will hardly see your friends and high school staff due to different class schedules. Despite the increase in freedom, it still does not mean that you can slack off and skip class.

Though RCEC may sound prestigious since the school has roughly 200 students overall, we are just like any other high school in the county. We still have drama, sometimes we’re rambunctious, and other times we procrastinate (which should be avoided), but the things that set us apart from other schools are that we have very few students, there’s a closer relationship with students and faculty, we take honors and college classes, and we have the chance to earn one or two Associate’s Degrees along with our high school diploma. In addition, we have activities that other schools don’t have, but you can’t experience everything until you’ve become a part of RCEC.

—Lida Vang (Class of 2016)

“Rowan County Early College has provided me an experience like no other school I’ve attended in my young life. The opportunity to work toward both a high school diploma and an Associate’s degree is one that seemed too good to be true when I first heard about the program. The reward will be worthwhile because it isn’t an easy journey. Though along with the ups and downs everyone faces while in school, I have got to know some amazing individuals who have helped me through difficult obstacles. I’m prideful of both the happy, silly moments as well as the much more troublesome ones because I know that I have grown and am a changed person for the better.”

—Jailene Aguilar Valdovinos (Class of 2016)

“Honestly, early college is the best thing that ever happened to me. If I had the choice of going back I would choose early college over traditional high school any day! The best parts about early college are visiting colleges & I would say the freedom you receive with the responsibilities of being a part time college student. I loved how flexible my schedule was and that the earliest we’d go to school is 9:30am, unlike regular high school! Early college will have a forever lasting impact on my life and I will use what my teachers have taught me my whole life.”

—Michaela Fink (Class of 2015)

“My experience at early college was nothing short of amazing. I am forever grateful for the opportunity I was given and now as I look back I am so glad I sacrificed. Now going to East Carolina in the fall I see nothing but positives from early college. I not only made friends but I also became a member of a new family at early college. The trips were always a good time and I am forever thankful. My early college experience was made wonderful because of my teachers and the support system behind me and Junior Civitan. I can say nothing but positive things of the school and again I am so forever grateful for the opportunity.”

—Gabrielle D’Amato (Class of 2015)

“For my experiences at RCEC I never regretted the decision of going there. The faculty and staff really care about you and your success. The friends you make there also become another family to you. The overall experience opens your eyes and gets you ready for the real world. The biggest plus would be (if you worked really hard) getting your high school diploma along with your AS/AA.”

—Kagai Vang (Class of 2015)

“Even though I was there for about 2 years it has and will always be one of the best experiences ever. The teachers were so very helpful; they knew when to have fun and when to be serious. We are a big family, always helping our fellow classmates when they were in need of some help. It was a lot of work, but with hard work there was always fun. I’ll forever enjoy our fun Fridays where we got to do different things and then get to go outside. My best memories will probably always be the Washington D.C. trip, we had a blast! I also really enjoyed our college visits. It was and will also be the greatest school to go to.”

—Brooklyn Hawkins (Former RCEC student)

“The experiences I have had at the early college have been both positive and negative. From meeting people I have never thought I’d meet and become friends/enemies with, to visiting places I’d thought I’d never visit, the early college has been a beneficial experience that has taught me so much. I’ve learned how to become a strong individual and learn from my mistakes.

Early college has taught me so many things that I should and should not do, such as to never procrastinate and always take advice from students of higher class than you (above your grade level). I’ve met many students that I became friends with for quite a while, and sadly I’ve met students that I’ll never be friends with again, but life is a learning experience, and early college does just that; it teaches you how to become a responsible individual and make friends who can help guide you through some of the most stressful years of your life.

Early college has also taught me how to communicate with other individuals of the same or higher stature in a very mature and academic way. One thing that early college brought to me was more one-on-one time with teachers, which is always great because you get to know about them personally while also learning how you can improve and succeed in their class.

All of the teachers at the early college are there to help you, and are quite possibly some of the best teachers you’ll ever meet.

As a rising senior, I’m glad to see my stressful journey come to an end, but I’m also scared to face reality and what the future has in store for me. I’m afraid to leave all the friends I’ve made at the early college, but at the same time, I’m happy to move on in the world and see where the wind will take me after graduation.”

—Jacob Blankenship (Class of 2016)

“I feel that things like classes get easier as you move along from grade to grade. I personally believe freshman year is the hardest because you don’t know what to expect from the people around you or your new environment, but as time passes and you get used to things everything becomes a lot easier. I also feel like a possible reason that things get easier as you go along from grade to grade is because you yourself are slowly growing as a person and are learning what to expect from yourself and are becoming more confident in your own abilities. One of the worst things your can do as a freshmen is psych yourself out and give up before you ever really start your journey. As a RCEC student you have to be patient with yourself as a person.”

—Michelle Starliper (Class of 2016)

“The atmosphere is always great! It gives an awesome chance to make lifelong friends. It is a challenge at times but it is not too hard. I have had good and bad experiences with instructors, but most the teachers are great! The school is like a little community that sticks together because we have to if we want to succeed.”

—Emmeri Cain (Class of 2017)

“I love the family feel of early college. I love how we try to support each other and we got through freshman year with memories from Pembroke, Washington DC, several spirit weeks and new friendship. Through clubs we got to meet many upper classman, which made their graduation bitter sweet.”

—O’Shannus Wood (Class of 2018)

“The school is great since there are few of us compared to regular schools. I feel more connected with the people and teachers. The college is also very kind to us and it gives us a better experience. Fridays are typically fun since we usually don’t have classes and we do different activities. I like the trips that we go on because it makes us more connected to people that we don’t usually engage with and this school is just amazing overall.”

—Kallia Yang (Class of 2017)

“At first I wasn’t all that sure about RCEC. I wasn’t comfortable about being around a bunch of new people but you get used to it. You become friends with all different kinds of people but the best part is knowing that you will be accepted. The D.C. trip made us all closer and we actually took in the opportunity for what it was. The college tours were great because we were able to physically see what our options could be. It’s crazy because I really miss most of these guys already and I can’t wait for sophomore year.”

—Dasha Boger (Class of 2018)

“Overall I think RCEC is a good school I don’t regret going. The college trips were awesome because we got to experience how it feels to be at a certain college. It would be nice if we could also go to colleges out of state. Fridays are relaxing but I think they could be planned ahead of time. I would recommend having better mentors; not all freshmen will ask for help so we need mentors that will check on the freshmen once in a while.”

—Jasmine Ferguson (Class of 2017)