Academic journal article Journal of Secondary Gifted Education

The Advanced Academy of Georgia: Four Years as a Residential Early-College-Entrance Program

Academic journal article Journal of Secondary Gifted Education

The Advanced Academy of Georgia: Four Years as a Residential Early-College-Entrance Program

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study discusses the goals and objectives of the Advanced Academy of Georgia at the State University of West Georgia, an innovative, fill-time residential early-college-entrance program for gifted and talented high school juniors and seniors. Also included is a comprehensive report of its progress, as well as entering SAT scores, academic performance, retention rates, and scores on the Dimensions of Self Concept, which was developed to measure noncognitive factors associated with self esteem or self-concept in a school setting. In addition to these areas, noteworthy student accomplishments are discussed, including several anecdotal comments about student achievement from the university's faculty. The paper concludes with a discussion of the progress to date and recommendations for further studies on this program.

The Advanced Academy of Georgia (AAG) is an innovative early-college-entrance program at the State University of West Georgia, a comprehensive liberal arts university located in the traditional college town of Carrollton. What is now the university was founded in 1906 as a state-supported residential junior college. It is approximately 45 miles west of Atlanta and was known as West Georgia College prior to 1996. The first 22 students were admitted into the Advanced Academy in the fall of 1995.

The purpose of the Advanced Academy of Georgia (AAG) is to provide an early transition to college for a select group of high school juniors and seniors who are anxious to participate in an enriched residential university program while concurrently completing, in absentia, their high school graduation requirements. Students are admitted into the program after either their sophomore or junior year, so there are some students who spend two years at the Academy before they graduate from high school and others who spend only one before they graduate. Intellectually gifted high school students who are seeking a unique educational opportunity that is fast-paced, challenging, and less restrictive than the traditional high school program are encouraged to apply. The Advanced Academy of Georgia has been, and continues to be, an alternative educational acceleration route for those special students for whom it is appropriate. This is rarely achieved in the usual high school context.

Early-college-entrance-programs for intellectually talented youth are only some of the many alternatives available for acceleration and enrichment. Another alternative, for example, is the College Board's Advanced Placement Program offered by many high schools. Early-college- entrance programs generally arose because educators perceived the need for an accelerated academic program. The idea of early entrance to college was based on the educational philosophy that intellectually capable students who have mastered the basics can be served best in an educational environment that allows them to pursue learning in the company of their intellectual peers.

There are approximately 12 state residential high schools for the gifted in the United States (Stanley, 1987) that began in 1980 with the establishment of the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (Eilber, 1987). The first systematic early entrance to college program began at the University of Chicago. In the 1950s, the Ford Foundation sponsored a program to allow students to enter 10 colleges and universities a year or two early. When funding ended for this program, so did the project. About that time, Shimer College modeled a residential program after the University of Chicago and served as a continuation of this program. The Shimer program still exists in Waukegan, Illinois, and was followed by the establishment of the Simon's Rock College program. There are now 13 residential early-college-entrance programs.

Over 100 years ago, a few students were allowed to enter certain colleges early by passing specific colleges' entrance exams. …

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