Early Start: ATC High School Programs

Early Start is Aiken Technical College’s dual enrollment/credit programs for high school students. It is designed to allow qualified and highly motivated students the opportunity to earn college credits while still in high school.

In Early Start, you will:

  • Discover Your Path: Explore career options while earning college credit.
  • Discover Savings: Minimal cost to you and your family
  • Discover Your Success: Great resources to help you succeed


Early Start Opportunities

Early Start students can enroll in many general education courses required for degrees at ATC or four-year colleges and universities. Whether you are pursuing an associate’s degree with us or planning to earn a bachelor’s degree elsewhere, you can get started through dual enrollment. Our courses are transferable and cost much less than most other colleges and universities in the region. Dual enrollment students taking general educations courses can get an early start on earning their Associate in Arts or Associate in Science degree at ATC. This means that you can complete the ATC degree and go on to pursue a bachelor’s degree in less time, at a lower cost, and be better prepared for the more rigorous coursework.

Students enrolled in Early Start Pathway Programs gain exposure to majors that match their career interests, giving them a head-start on their career or the specialty they wish to pursue in college. Our Pathway Programs give students the option of pursuing in-demand jobs right after high school or going on to advanced training in highly desirable fields. Available pathways include:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Cybersecurity Networking (through ACCTC)
  • Mechanical & Architectural Drafting and Design (through ACCTC)
  • Nuclear Fundamentals
  • Patient Care Technician
  • Pre-Health Professions
  • Production Operator

* NOTE: Program availability varies by school. Check with your counselor about options available
   at your high school.

Aiken Early College is a unique opportunity for Early Start students to graduate from high school with both a high school diploma and an Associate in Arts or Associate in Science degree. Students enrolled in this program take courses every semester (fall, spring, and summer) starting the fall of their high school sophomore year through the spring semester of their senior year.

The credits earned are transferable and often fulfill many general education requirements toward a bachelor’s degree. Currently, this option only is available to Midland Valley High School students.

The Early Start Teacher Academy is a new offering for students interested in teaching careers. The program focuses on early childhood development and related teaching practices. Participating students have the opportunity to earn various certifications, CATE credit, and college credit toward an ATC Early Childhood credential. Currently, this option only is available to Aiken High School students.

Students attending select high schools may apply to receive Technical Advancement Placement (TAP) credits for specific approved high school courses. TAP credits save students money and time by reducing the number of classes they need upon enrolling in related programs at ATC. These courses are approved through special agreements with participating high schools. Technical Advanced Placement

Getting Started

Students interested in enrolling in the Early Start program should speak with their school counselor and a parent or guardian before applying. Counselor and parent permissions are required.

Applications can be completed online at apply.atc.edu. The priority deadline for fall entry is March 31. Applications are accepted up to one week before the start of the fall and spring semesters.

Early Start applicants must meet College admission requirements for degree and credential programs.
*Select dual enrollment programs may have special requirements for high school students – be sure to ask your high school counselor.

  • English/Verbal (Minimum): Either PSAT – 500, SAT – 500, or ACT – 18
  • Math (Minimum): Either PSAT – 500 or ACT – 22
  • Dual enrollment applicants who do not meet these requirements may take the free Accuplacer placement test but will need to test into college-level courses in order to be accepted.
  • Demonstrated aptitude for college coursework beyond these measures.

In the event that test scores are not available due to certain restrictions*, applicants may be accepted if they have earned:

  • an overall high school GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • at least a “B” in the highest high school English
  • at least a “B” in Algebra II or Pre-Calculus.

*This exception will be reviewed annually.

For additional information, email EarlyStart@atc.edu.

Aiken Technical College offers an opportunity to receive a quality education at a minimal cost to students and their families.  Visit our Tuition and Fees page for current costs. Payment plans may also be available.

In addition, several funding resources are available for qualifying Early Start students and select programs may be free. Please contact your school counselor for more information.

Available funding resources:

  • South Carolina Lottery Tuition Assistance (SC-LTAP): The SC-LTAP is funded by the State of South Carolina. Funding levels are contingent upon state approval for each academic year as determined by the S.C. Commission on Higher Education. Recipients will receive $85 per credit hour, for up to 15 credits per semester. For more information, including eligibility guidelines and a list of frequently asked questions, visit S.C. Technical College System - Lottery Tuition Assistance.
  • South Carolina Workforce Industry Needs Scholarship (SC WINS)*: The SC WINS is a statewide technical college scholarship program that supplements SC-LTAP to help cover tuition and mandatory fees remaining after other scholarships and grants have been applied to the student’s account balance. Recipients will receive $65 per credit hour for a maximum of 15 credit hours. There is also a book allowance of up to $300 per academic year if the student is enrolled in an eligible workforce/career pathway program. For more information and a list of eligibility guidelines, visit S.C. Technical College System-SC WINS Scholarship Program.
  • Scholarships and Grants: Aiken Technical College may also award institutional or grant-funded scholarships to eligible students. Please speak with your school counselor for more information.

As you begin your dual enrollment journey with ATC, it is vital that you have an understanding of the College, available support services,  and your rights, responsibilities, and academic expectations as a student. 

To ensure your success, we require all dual enrolled students to complete an online orientation prior to beginning their courses. The online orientation takes about 30 minutes to complete.

If you have any questions regarding the online orientation, please contact studentengagement@atc.edu or call (803) 508-7380.

Policies and Procedures

Students participating in the Early Start program are dually students of their high school or home school association and of Aiken Technical College. All ATC policies and procedures apply to Early Start participants. Students and their families are encouraged to review the ATC Academic Catalog and Student Handbook to learn about guidelines and student rights and responsibilities such as Satisfactory Academic Progress, Financial Aid, and Student Conduct.



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