Frequently Asked Questions

What is Early College Studies at Stamford High School?

What does a typical day look like for an ECS student?

Can an ECS student play sports and participate in other extra-curricular activities?

Who can apply for and attend ECS?

How do students apply?

What if I want to apply to AITE?

What percentage of students who apply to the program are accepted?

What happens if I am placed on the waiting list?

Why is it beneficial to attend this type of school?

What coursework is offered through the NCC degree program?

Are all of the credits transferrable?

How is the student’s college-level coursework funded?

What is Early College Studies at Stamford High School ?
Early College Studies at Stamford High School is a collaboration between Stamford Public Schools, Norwalk Community College, Stamford Public Education Foundation, Beyond Limits, The Connecticut State Department of Education and other public partners. The program is based on the Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) model, an innovative merging of high school and college curriculum. While spending four years working on their high school diploma, students can begin pursuing the requirements of an associate’s degree in computer science once they show academic eligibility. It is possible for students to complete the associate’s degree in the four years they are in high school if they are eligible to begin coursework in their sophomore year. Otherwise, the program may take students five or six years to fully complete the degree requirements.

What does a typical day look like for an ECS student?
The typical day for a freshman in ECS looks a lot like the day for other freshmen. Being part of this program does not excuse a student from any of the requirements for high school graduation; additionally, Norwalk Community College (NCC) does not allow students to start taking coursework until at least their sophomore year. Therefore, students attend their regularly scheduled high school courses at whatever level they have been assigned (i.e., English 9 Honors, Biology CP, etc.)

All freshmen ECS students, however, have Workplace Learning I as a course on their schedule. This course is counted as an elective toward high school graduation requirements, but it is mandatory for participation in this program. While ECS students will find themselves “mixed in” with students who are not in the program in almost all of their classes, Workplace Learning I is the one course during the day that is only open to students in the program.

Sophomore year, some students may begin taking courses at NCC. Since only about 10% of the cohort may be eligible to start this coursework, currently the courses are taken in the evening or Saturday mornings. Next year, though (19-20), the district intends for the high school to be on a block schedule with four classes per day. This is an excellent change, particularly for ECS students! With a consistent daily schedule, rather than a rotating seven-day one, students can potentially plan to take NCC courses during the last time block of the day.  Also, the plan is for SPS employees to be certified as NCC adjunct professors so we can offer some of the introductory courses here on our campus and during the students’ regularly scheduled days.

All sophomores are required to take Workplace Learning 2, and all juniors are required to take Workplace Learning 3.

Can I play supports and other extracurricular activities in ECS?
Absolutely…and it depends. ECS students are welcome to participate in sports and other extracurricular activities. We have a significant number of students who play at least one sport throughout the year, and we also have students involved in drama club, debate, 3D printing club, band, chorus and more.

Extracurricular participation may also be determined by the student’s goals for themselves in the program. If the student is intent on completing the associate’s degree within their four years of high school, the student is going to need to make schedule-related sacrifices. Completion of both high school coursework and an associate’s degree makes for a demanding schedule. Add sports practice in to the mix, or other time-consuming activities, and life could get very overwhelming and unmanageable for a student.

The best advice ECS staff has found so far related to this question is to use freshman year to transition to high school and to explore what it offers. Freshmen are not allowed to take NCC coursework, so there is no need for a student to definitively know their priorities yet upon entering the program. They can experience a full year of high school before even considering rearranging their schedule to accommodate college-level coursework.

Who can apply for and attend ECS?
ECS@SHS is a specialized program that is only available to Stamford Public School students. Even a Stamford student who is zoned for attendance at Westhill High School can attend Stamford High School full-time so he/she can be a part of the program if accepted.

Applicants must be residents of the City of Stamford. Therefore, students in 8th grade who currently attend a school other than one associated with Stamford Public Schools may apply as long as they residents of the city.

How do students apply?
There are three stages to the application process. Students must participate in all three stages in order to be considered for admission into the program.

Stage One: A student completes the initial application with help from an adult in their life (parent/guardian/adult who as permission to act as the parent). The initial application asks for basic information about the student and is meant to express a desire to participate in the application process. During this stage, students indicate who their school counselor is and the name of two current teachers whom they would like to provide performance feedback about the student.

Stage Two: The ECS director will send student applicants a login name to Flipgrid. Students can choose from a number of questions to determine which they would like to answer in a 90-second video. The applicant should take time to prepare their statements beforehand and practice — perhaps in front of a mirror — so they can present themselves in a confident and articulate manner. The applicant may re-record their answer as many times as they wish until they are happy with it. Once an answer is submitted, however, that is the applicant’s “final” entry.

Stage Three: The admissions committee reviews the applicant’s video essay and the performance feedback from counselors and teachers. From this information, the committee determines whether or not to advance the applicant to an interview round. If chosen for an interview, the student will participate in a group interview activity with other applicants at their middle school.

The admissions committee reviews all data collected about the student (feedback, video essay, interview, any other relevant information) and creates a cohort of 50 students. Students who do not make the initial 50 spots of the cohort are placed on a waiting list.

What if I want to apply to AITE?
It is common for students interested in our program to also be interested in AITE. Students are encouraged to apply to both schools. ECS is about supporting students in their transition from high school to college and career, so this is a student’s first opportunity to gain experience with the post-secondary process. After all, the best case scenario is that one day a graduating senior student applies to multiple colleges and gets multiple acceptance letters, or a job-seeker interviews at multiple companies and receives multiple job offers! This application process should be treated the same way.

There are many reasons why a student might choose to go to AITE or to any other program held in the district.  What separates ECS from other programs is that it provides students with the opportunity of pursuing and earning a degree. College degrees are the completion of a series of requirements that then make the degree-holder eligible for relevant paid work. While students can take college-level courses at any of the Stamford public high schools through the Early College Experience partnership with UCONN, these courses become a collection of separate credits on a student’s resume and do not lead to a degree.

What percentage of students who apply to the program are accepted?
In 2017-2018, 100 8th grade students applied to be in the second cohort of the program. ECS@SHS can currently accept only 50 students into each cohort, so 50% of the applicants to the program were accepted last year.

What happens if I am placed on the waiting list?
Each student placed on the waiting list is provided a number to let them know what spot they are on this list. If an accepted student decides not to enter the program, their spot is offered to the person next in line on the waiting list until it is filled.

So far, we have accepted students from the waiting list each of the past two application years. Historically, earning a spot near the beginning of the waiting list provides the student with a significant chance that they will still be able to get in.

The program will continue to open vacant program spots to students on the waiting list through July 31st.

Why is it beneficial to attend this type of school?
The world and the job market are changing. Today’s jobs especially require more technology-based skills. Many positions require less than a four-year degree, but more than a high school diploma. According to projections by the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University, “65% of all jobs in the economy will require postsecondary education and training beyond high school.” On average, workers with an associate’s degree will earn 73% more than those with only a high school diploma.

ECS@SHS allows students who may not have thought about college, or who may be the first in their family to consider it, or who may not be able to afford college, to earn an associate degree and a real opportunity at a good job after graduating. With a high school diploma and associate degree at graduation, they are prepared to join the workforce, or continue on to earn a four-year or advanced degree.

What coursework is offered through the NCC degree program?
Students have the option of three degree-tracks, focusing on either mobile programming, software engineering technology, or website design. You can find a list of courses required for each degree track by clicking here.

What kind of jobs can students get after graduating?
Students who earn one of the two AAS degrees are prepared for entry level careers in computer programming, database programming and administration, web programming, and systems/network administration and support. Students also get a foundation in the field of computer systems that will let them transition into a Bachelor of Technology in Computer Systems program, if they desire. Furthermore, these AAS options prepare competent technicians who have the skills needed by the computer industry. Graduates qualify for occupations such as field engineer, computer-repair technician, business machines technician, data processing equipment specialist, electromechanical technician, laboratory technician, production assembly technician, biomedical instruments service technician, and robotics service technician. Manufacturers and users of computers and electromechanical equipment are potential employers.

Do Norwalk Community College Credits Transfer to Other Schools?
Norwalk Community College does not guarantee all of their credits can or will transfer to every school, college, or university in the nation.  Any decision on the comparability, appropriateness and applicability of credit and whether credit should be accepted is the decision of the receiving institution. 

However, NCC does have a series of transfer credit agreements with other Connecticut institutions. In particular, NCC’s computer science program has a transfer articulation agreement with Fairfield University. Additionally, the Connecticut Community College system has a Transfer Ticket program so students can transfer to a Connecticut State University without losing credits or having to take extra credits to complete a bachelor’s degree.

As students begin to research colleges and apply, they should connect with an admissions counselor at each school to find out what courses could transfer to the school.

 

How is the student’s college-level coursework funded?

A student’s coursework outside of Stamford High School is funded in a variety of ways, most notably benefitting on Stamford High School’s designation with the federal government as an experimental site for the Pell Grant. Pell Grants, while normally reserved for college students who have already graduated from high school, are open to ECS program students at Stamford High School as a special arrangement between Norwalk Community College and the federal government. Click here to see further information about the division of costs between student families and SPS.