educationColorado Springs Early Colleges is expanding opportunities for its high school students who are getting a jump on earning college credits and exploring career choices.

CSEC is an open enrollment, tuition free, public charter school for grades 9-12 that attracts students from all over the Pikes Peak region, said Head of School Jennifer Daugherty.

“We allow students to get a head start on their career,” Daugherty said. “We also provide bus transportation for students, which is unique for a charter school. We want all students to have access to the amazing opportunity we provide.”

CSEC, which begins its 11th academic year in the Springs with classes on Aug. 14, expects to have 660 students enrolled, with about 450 on its campus at 4405 N. Chestnut St., just off of Garden of the Gods Road. Daugherty said CSEC partners with Pikes Peak Community College, UCCS and Colorado State University-Pueblo.

“We offer college prep and over 20 college classes,” she said. “And we have a Career Readiness course, which requires students to do job shadowing and gives them an idea if that’s really what they want for a career.”

Touting CSEC’s college and career readiness approach, Daugherty said, “Of last year’s graduates, 98 percent earned college credits and 50 percent earned an associate’s degree or 60-plus college credit hours or a career certification.”

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CSEC students can earn a combination of high school and college credits as they pursue a high school diploma and an associate’s degree or higher — all at no cost to CSEC families. CSEC pays for tuition, fees, and books. Along with college-prep high school courses, Pikes Peak Community College courses are taught on the CSEC high school campus, known as PPCC Bridge. Qualifying students can take college courses off-campus at any PPCC campus as well as UCCS and CSU-Pueblo. All courses taken must satisfy degree requirements.

CSEC is one of four schools in the Colorado Early Colleges network. A branch opened in Fort Collins in 2012, another in Parker in 2014 and one is beginning in Aurora this school year.

“As Colorado Springs’ oldest and most experienced early college high school, we continue to provide new opportunities to ensure our students have access to the best support and resources to help them succeed now and into the future,” Daugherty said. “With the upgrades to our tutoring center and our staff, we are working to change the mindset around support — it is something that benefits every student.”

Among the updates are:

  • A tutoring center and writing lab which has doubled in size and staff. The tutoring center now offers full- and part-time staff.
  • CSEC has expanded its career internship and job shadow opportunities for students by adding an internship coordinator, who will work closely with students and advisors. The school has been successful helping its students with automotive, engineering and law internships and this expansion supports the school’s focus on workforce readiness and career planning.
  • Two new counselors, Paige Rutkowski and Courtney LaPar, who will join the Academic Advising Department to provide an individualized approach to college and career planning.
  • College-level environmental and micro economics courses from Pikes Peak Community College have been added as new courses available for free on the CSEC campus this fall. The classes have been added based on demand and opportunity.

According to a press release, as many as 75 percent of CSEC students are enrolled in college courses in any given year and CSEC’s 2017 graduates earned 5,520 total college credits.

Students can enroll online or in person any time before the first day of class, Aug. 14, at