Early College Honors Program 

The Early College Honors Program (ECHP) at DHS

What is the Darlington High School Early College Honors Program?

The Darlington High School Early College Honors Program is a program that is designed to offer ninth and tenth grade students the opportunity to take advanced courses in preparation for the opportunity to take actual college classes with certified college instructors in the eleventh and twelfth grade.  Successfully completing a college course  by earning a C or higher will result in the student earning at least 3 hours of college credit for each class the student takes.  Qualified students can take as many classes as their schedules allows or only a few that interest them.  Truly driven and dedicated students can even earn a two-year associate degree by the time they graduate high school!


What does this mean for students and their parents?

This is an extraordinary academic and financial value for parents and students.  The program currently offers more than 30 different college courses that students can take.  This means ECHP students and their families can save THOUSANDS of dollars because students receive reduced or free tuition and textbooks.   Currently tuition, fees, and textbooks are paid for by the Darlington County School District.

Unlike AP and IB courses, students who earn credit in dual credit classes are guaranteed to have that credit transfer to any public college or university within South Carolina.  It is important to note that in order for credits to transfer to those institutions, students must earn a C or higher in the college classes they take.  Furthermore, participation potentially increases a student's opportunity for receiving other scholarships as well. 


Who teaches these classes?

Each class is taught by a highly-qualified, innovative teacher - some of whom are Nationally Board Certified.  Many classes are taught by DHS teachers who are also adjunct instructors at Florence Darlington Technical College (FDTC) and Francis Marion University (FMU) , and online classes have both a DHS teacher and an FDTC instructor.  Online courses are taught by an instructor at FDTC.


What are the benefits of the Early College Honor Program?

Two Year College Degree

Students who meet the college requirements, commit to summer work, and dedicate themselves to  advanced academic work, can earn a two-year associate degree by the time they graduate high school.


College Credit

Students who pass their college courses  with a C or higher are assured to have that credit transfer to any South Carolina public college or university.  Students can earn up to two years of college credit, which is the equivalent of more than two years of college.  Therefore, those students will be ready for the next phase of life after college - work or graduate school - up to two years ahead of their cohort.


No national or standardized tests on which your college credit rests

While the classes do have tests, quizzes, and final exams like any other course, there are no standardized tests on which your college credit depends.  This is a big difference from AP and IB programs.  No matter what grade students make an AP or IB class if they don't earn a minimum score on their standardized tests, then they do not earn college credit.  And even then, some colleges don't give credit for passing the test; rather, they need to make a perfect score.  That is not the case with our college courses. 


Financial Savings

There is currently no cost to our families for taking our classes.  Tuition, books, and fees currently being charged are paid for by the Darlington County School District through the Darlington High School magnet program.  Each year we evaluate our budget and financial needs so there may be costs for students taking college classes in the future.  In situations where tuition or textbooks are not completely funded, they are offered at a reduced cost so as to make the courses as affordable as possible.  Students who take advantage of all of the classes offered in the Early College Program can save up to $60,000 in college expenses, which is the cost of two years of tuition, room, and board at some of South Carolina's state universities.