Students in Baltimore have the option to apply to a unique new high school. Bard High School Early College offers students the opportunity to earn an associate's degree by the time they graduate--and it's tuition-free.
"I feel like I really matter here," said 9th grader India Driscoll.
The college atmosphere, accomplished faculty with advanced degrees and the discussion-based, liberal-arts curriculum were all big draws for Driscoll.
"I feel like here, it's a lot more student-based and learning-based, rather than test-based and score based," she said.
After completing the 9th and 10th grades, students enter into an undergraduate course of study for the next two years. By the end of high school, they can earn up to 60 credits from New York's Bard College to transfer to a four-year institution.
"It makes me feel happy because then I feel like I am ahead and not just for bragging rights, but it's kind of like I get a jump start on everything," said Danielle Clapperton, who is in year 1 of the college program.
Homeschooled all of her life, Clapperton was already planning to enroll in community college at 16, before she learned she could do the same for free at Bard.
"Everything that happens later for a lot of people, we're kind of privileged and we can have that option now," she said. "It's comforting to know. It's a good feeling."
Bard Early College has six other campuses, including ones in New York City, New Orleans and Cleveland. The Baltimore campus opened in September for its very first school year here in the city.
Students must apply to be considered for admission. To find out more, click here.