Ashe County Schools and the Ashe Campus of Wilkes Community College are finalizing plans to open the Ashe Early College High School in 2018, providing students the opportunity to earn an associate degree while earning their high school diploma.

According to Ashe Superintendent Phyllis Yates, the school system received approval earlier this year from the NC Department of Public Instruction to open a cooperative innovative high school, commonly known as an early college, and the legislature has approved funding of the initiative.

The new school will be located on the Ashe Campus and will enroll up to 200 students when fully operational. In its first year, the Ashe Early College will enroll up to 40 rising freshman and 30 rising sophomores. In subsequent years, the school will admit up to 40 rising freshman each year.

College tuition, fees, and book costs are waived for early college students.

In North Carolina, there are currently over 100 cooperative and innovative high schools, with the vast majority located on a college campus. Over 20,000 students are enrolled throughout the state and the program boasts a completion rate of over 95%. Over 85% go on to enroll in a college or university upon completion of the early college.