Early College Experience

Welcome to Early College Experience!

Early College Experience program (ECE) is a partnership between NWACC and northwest Arkansas high schools. Under this program, NWACC and participating high schools agree to help accelerate student progress toward a college degree. Preparation for college involves careful selection of courses no later than9th grade. This program involves students, high school counselors, parents and college personnel in course selection from the beginning of high school. The best preparation for college is a high school program designed for college bound students, and ECE offers a rigorous and rewarding course of study. Students in Early College Experience can take transferable college core curriculum courses while still in high school.

The philosophy behind Early College Experience

The program is built around these assumptions:
Students would prefer to remain in high school while earning college credits.
High school students can successfully complete college level work while in high school.
Taking college courses encourages students to continue college studies after high school.

Benefits of Early College Experience courses

Early College Experience courses:

  • Reduce the time and cost of obtaining a college degree
  • Facilitate the transition between high school and college
  • Prepare students for college and reduce the need for remedial coursework
  • Increase access to higher education to underserved student populations


Early College Experience courses are challenging because they are college courses. They have the same learning outcomes, study requirements, and textbooks as the courses offered at the NWACC campus. Courses offered include college English, mathematics, communications, natural sciences, social sciences, behavioral sciences and humanities. The state of Arkansas' required minimum college core curriculum provides a good guideline for selecting courses in high school. Information about the core curriculum is available in high school counseling offices or in our office on campus.


All ECE courses are taught by faculty who meet or exceed NWACC's standards for experience and academic credentials (at least a master's degree in the subject taught). ECE faculty must be approved by the appropriate academic department head and the Vice President of Instruction.

Program eligibility and requirements

Eligible students must meet the following criteria to participate in ECE:

  • Be enrolled in grades 10-12
  • Have a high school cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 grading system
  • Have an appropriate placement score on standardized tests. See charts below

Placement Score Requirements

ALL college courses, including Math and English, require the following minimum College-level Reading scores
College-level ReadingRequired minimum scores
ACT Reading19
COMPASS Reading83
SAT Reading480
PSAT Reading48
PLAN Reading15
EXPLORE Reading14
English CompositionRequired minimum scores*
ACT English19
COMPASS Writing80
SAT Writing480
PSAT Writing48
PLAN Writing16
EXPLORE Writing14
College AlgebraRequired minimum scores*
ACT Math21
COMPASS Algebra65
SAT Math500
PSAT Math50**
PLAN Math21**
EXPLORE Writing14
Finite MathRequired minimum scores*
ACT Math24***
COMPASS Col. Algebra46-99
TrigonometryRequired minimum scores*
ACT Math24***
COMPASS Col. Algebra46-99

* In addition to College-level Reading scores above
** Plus successful completion of high school Algebra II with C or better
*** Or successful completion of College Algebra with C or better, and College-level Reading

College requirements

Even after taking college courses, students have to meet the admission requirement of the colleges and universities to which they are applying. Students should check with the college or university of their choosing for particular admission information. Generally, admission decisions are based on high school grades, class rank, and ACT/SAT examination scores.

For enrollment and program information email earlycollege@nwacc.edu or call (479) 725-4688.