Early College Access Program (formerly ESSENCE) | Hagerstown Community College
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Early College Access Program (formerly ESSENCE)

Early College Access Program (formerly ESSENCE)

Early College Access Program (formerly ESSENCE)

What is Early College Access Program?

The Early College Access Program is designed to give high academic achievers the opportunity to earn college credits while still in high school. To participate in the Early College Access Program, each Washington County Public School student must meet the college and career readiness standards set by the state. All non-WCPS students must be 16 years old and have a 2.5 high school GPA to be eligible for the program. Early College Access Program students can be in local high schools, local private schools or homeschooled. Students are in the Early College Access Program regardless of where (at HCC or at their  high schools) or how the courses are offered (lecture, hybrid, or online).

About the Early College Access Program

  • Washington County Public School (WCPS) students do not pay tuition, fees, or books for Early College Access classes up to 60 credits per student. This applies to all semesters while a student is enrolled at WCPS.
  • All non-WCPS students will receive a 25% tuition discount based on residency for all Early College classes.
  • Maryland residents who attend a public or private high school may apply for additional funding through the Early College Access Program Supplemental Scholarship. Please see the application for specific criteria. This scholarship is in addition to any early college discount that students may already be eligible for during 2023-2024.
  • For more information on the Early College Access Program, please call 240-500-2238, text 240-892-7258 or email admissions@hagerstowncc.edu.

How to Become an Early College Access Program Student (classes taken on campus at HCC or online)

  1. Apply for admission online
  2. Submit high school transcripts and SAT/ACT and MCAP scores (if taken) to the Office of Admissions and Enrollment Management.
  3. Fill out the Early College Access Form.
  4. For Washington County Public School students, you must have MCAP scores of 750 or higher in MCAP English 10 or 11 and MCAP Algebra II or a 3.0 high school GPA to be able to register for classes. For those who have below a 3.0 high school GPA, you must take HCC Placement Tests. For non-WCPS students, you must have a 3.0 high school GPA and be 16 years old. If you do not have a 3.0 high school GPA, you must take HCC placement tests. Learn more about placement testing or view web-based tutorials on the Testing Center page.
  5. Register for classes by visiting www.hagerstowncc.edu/retention

How to Become an Early College Access Program Student (classes offered at high school)

  • Steps to apply for admission and register for classes offered at local high schools can be found here.

Other Early College Programs for High School Students

  • Early College Degree Program
    High school students interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, Medical, Business, or Arts Programs can attend HCC full time during their junior and senior years and earn college credit, which can be applied towards certificates or associate degrees. Learn more at www.hagerstowncc.edu/earlycollegedegree.
  • TRiO: Upward Bound
    Upward Bound is a year-round college-preparatory program made possible through a five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education. HCC’s Upward Bound program will serve 72 students annually from North Hagerstown, South Hagerstown, Williamsport high schools, and Hancock Middle Senior High School. Learn more at www.hagerstowncc.edu/upwardbound.
  • CATE Program
    CATE students take a combination of Advanced Placement (AP) classes, Early College Access Program courses, and courses at WCTHS that articulate to credits at HCC. Students who follow the CATE program pathway have the potential to earn up to 30 college credits. After graduating from high school, students can possibly complete their Associate degree at HCC in a year or less. Find our more on the CATE Early College Program page.