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Central Falls students engage in independent learning in their EEP course. 

​Each academic year, 1,400-1,500 high school juniors and seniors in Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts enroll in college-credit courses in their own high schools through RIC’s Early Enrollment Program (EEP). The 45 EEP courses are rigorous and offer students an opportunity to get a head start on college at a significantly reduced cost. 

Lincoln High School is one of nearly 50 public, private and charter high schools in Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts actively involved in EEP. The school’s chair of the Social Studies Department, Grace Small, is one of the EEP instructors whose credentials and curriculum have been approved by a RIC faculty liaison from the History Department to ensure college-level standards of instruction. To be approved as an EEP instructor, teachers must have the same educational credentials as RIC’s adjunct faculty. 

Teaching an EEP course, Small said, allows her to cover content with greater depth. “A student’s classroom experience [in an EEP class] differs from a standard high school course. EEP students are independent learners who are able to master content and share their knowledge,” she said.

Small added that in her EEP history class, students learn the key skills of analysis, argumentation and contextualization while honing their research, thesis-writing and citation skills. She found that the higher level of work and expectation has a transforming effect on high school students. “Students who are enrolled in college work at the EEP level demonstrate significantly more drive, intellectual curiosity, initiative and confidence,” she said.

Known as a concurrent enrollment partnership, EEP at Rhode Island College has grown considerably since the college launched the program 34 years ago. In fact, RIC is a charter member of the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP). High schools enter into a partnership with Rhode Island College by identifying and offering certain college preparatory courses for EEP credit, which may also include honors or advanced placement (AP) courses. The courses are considered equivalent to corresponding courses at RIC or considered as college-level elective credit.  The availability of EEP courses depends upon the high school. Some schools may offer as many as 15 courses and some offer as few as one. The diversity of courses is extensive.

Hundreds of colleges and universities around the country accept EEP credits, including Boston University, Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, Northeastern and Syracuse. In Rhode Island alone, Bryant University, New England Institute of Technology, Rhode Island School of Design, Roger Williams, Salve Regina University and URI accept EEP college credits. And, EEP credits are posted to the student's high school transcript as well as an official Rhode Island College transcript.

At a cost of $60 per credit, EEP courses represent a considerable savings for students looking to maximize their financial resources as they begin college. For example, a 4-credit EEP course would cost $250 (including the $10 registration fee) in contrast to $1,288 taking the same course on the Rhode Island College campus. The savings is even higher for a private four-year college, where the cost of a 4-credit class averages $4,000.

Students whose high schools offer multiple EEP courses can reap significant financial benefits when they graduate by transferring the credits to hundreds of colleges and universities who recognize and accept concurrent enrollment credit.

RIC Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs Holly Shadoian pointed out that in many cases, EEP courses are offered as part of an exisiting honors or Advanced Placement AP course at the high school.  But there is a distinct difference. “While college credit for an AP course hinges on a student’s performance on ONE final standardized test, college credit for an EEP course is based on the student’s entire performance throughout the course and the grade earned,” she explained. This is known as "authentic assessment."

Small is quick to recommend EEP courses to prospective students. “I would tell students that enrolling in my EEP class would provide them with the practical skills they need to employ later in college. It would alleviate any apprehension they would have about doing college-level work,” Small advised.

“Best of all, successful completion of an EEP course will guarantee students at least three college credits,” she said. “It’s a definite win-win situation for students and parents alike.”

For more information on the Early Enrollment Program, visit