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The mission of Bard High School Early College is to provide bright, highly motivated students of high school age the challenge of a rigorous course of study that emphasizes thinking through writing, discussion, and inquiry, enabling them to begin college upon completing the 10th grade. Our fundamental principles: That many motivated students are fully capable of beginning college work by the time they would normally reach the 11th grade; That success requires a faculty as committed to fostering adolescent development as they are to teaching and scholarship; That a strong general education in the liberal arts and sciences should be the foundation of the curriculum; and That an early college based on these principles could provide a model for reforming the education of American high school students.
At the end of four years at BHSEC Baltimore, students have completed the first two years of an undergraduate liberal arts education, earning up to 60 college credits and an Associate in Arts degree from Bard College, as well as a high school diploma from the State of Maryland.
In the college program - the third and fourth years, or Year One and Year Two - students take a full college course load in the liberal arts and sciences. All classes are taught by college faculty who are active and accomplished in their fields. Classes are inquiry- and discussion-based, encouraging active engagement with professors and peers. All students in the college program take a two-year interdisciplinary seminar sequence, one class a semester. Through critical reading and interpretation, students engage with seminal texts from antiquity to modernity across the humanities.
In the high school program (9th and 10th grades), a more structured, high school curriculum is meant to help students ease into college coursework. All high school classes are taught by the same college faculty that teach in the college program, and classwork incorporates similar critical reading, writing, and thinking techniques. Alongside a robust network of academic support resources, the high school classes help students more adequately prepare for the demands of their rigorous college classes in the last two years.