Early College Programs for Gifted Students

Early College Programs for Gifted Students

Early college programs are an option that some high achieving gifted students may consider. In many cases, your child may be able to enroll in college level classes at the local community college or register at a near by university if they meet the admission requirements of any other student. You can also consider using your state’s dual enrollment program. The Education Commission of the United States has a great comparison chart of dual enrollment programs by state.

Dual enrollment programs may have some constraints. Often times, the student will need to be a registered junior or senior in high school. However, there may be some ways to utilize the program such as declaring your younger student as a junior officially with the school district if they will continue perusing college after dual enrollment.

Many community colleges do not require a high school diploma or GED. Some universities will admit students without a high school diploma as a student of continuing education and professional development. Inquire with your nearby community colleges and universities to see what they require.

Check out my post, “Early College for the Gifted Learner“, about considerations and options for various early college situations.

Age Discrimination Issues

If you are approaching a community college or public university about registering a younger student, it’s not uncommon for the school to tell you that they do not allow students under xx age. However, if your student meets the admission requirements of a public university of community college, it is against the law for them to not consider the student due to their age. The Age Discrimination Act of 1975 “prohibits discrimination on the basis of age in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance. The Act, which applies to all ages, permits the use of certain age distinctions and factors other than age that meet the Act’s requirements.” If your student is turned away due to age, you can file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights. Sometimes a quick reminder to the school about the Age Discrimination Act of 1975 will remove the age objection before you would need to file a complaint.

“Programs or activities that receive ED funds must provide aids, benefits or services in a nondiscriminatory manner in an environment free from discriminatory harassment that limits educational opportunities. Such aids, benefits or services may include, but are not limited to, admissions, recruitment, financial aid, academic programs, student treatment and services, counseling and guidance, discipline, classroom assignment, grading, vocational education, recreation, physical education, athletics, and housing. Some of the civil rights laws enforced by OCR also extend to employment.”

Other Early College Programs

Outside of direct or dual enrollment in your local community college or university, there are some other interesting programs for early college. Some of these options are residential. Check out the programs below for more information.

Bard College at Simon’s Rock, Great Barrington, Massachusetts
Bard Early College, New York City, New York
Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy, Iowa City, Iowa
Boston University Academy, Boston, Massachusetts
Cal State Early Entrance Program (EEP), Los Angeles, California
Early College at Guildford, Greensboro, North Carolina
Gatton Academy, Bowling Green, Kentucky
Mary Baldwin PEG, Staunton, Virginia
Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science, Worcester, Massachusetts
The Missouri Academy of Science, Mathematics and Computing, Maryville, Missouri
Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science (TAMS), Denton, Texas
Robinson Center for Young Scholars Early Entrance University of Washington, Seattle, Washington


The Davidson Institute has put together two guidebooks that may help you make the decision to enroll your child into college early:

Considering the Options: A Guidebook for Investigating Early College Entrance | Parent Version

Considering the Options: A Guidebook for Investigating Early College Entrance | Student Version

The Acceleration Institute also has some great resources for Early College enrollment.


11 year old college graduate, Elliott Tanner

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