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Why the Vail Early College?


What is the Vail Early College? 

  • A program run by the Vail School District in partnership with Pima Community College.
  • An opportunity for students reach higher during their senior year and arrive sooner to their post-high school goals.
  • An experience in which students spend their senior year taking 3-4 college courses per semester on Pima Community College East Campus.
  • Focused on being the right program for the right students.

What are we here to do?

  • Help students to succeed in the transition from high school to college.
  • Help students learn what college is really like with daily supports from the dedicated VEC staff! 
  • Help students go on to complete their college degrees, sometimes a year sooner than their high school peers. 
  • Help students earn 26 (on average) transferable college credits prior to graduating from high school. 
  • Provide students with the supports and skills necessary to successfully meet their academic goals.

What are we NOT?

  • Run by Pima Community College. We are a Vail program!
  • A program that can meet the needs of every senior in the district. 
  • A credit recovery program.
  • An online college program.
  • A place for students who are unmotivated or not ready for the maturity of college coursework. 

What does the Vail Early College look like?

  • Senior year of high school will be spent full time at Pima East Campus and not at their high school of graduation.
  • School day is Monday through Thursday from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.   
  • Students follow Pima’s academic calendar, not Vail’s. This means school starts in August. Yes, that means we don’t have a fall break and only a one week spring break, but we do have a month long winter break and longer summer! 
  • Full time Vail School District staff focused on supporting VEC students and parents.
  • Students can still participate in their Vail high school’s sports, clubs, activities, dances, etc. but also have full access to Pima resources, activities and events.
  • Students will receive a diploma from their current Vail high school and walk with their class at graduation.
  • Pima courses taken will be specifically chosen to meet each student’s individual educational goal.
  • Students will take Government for high school credit on the Pima campus but taught by Vail staff.
  • Students will be provided with specific college success supports throughout the school year through our VEC College Success course.
  • Students will complete their Senior Exit Project through the Vail Early College. The major difference is the SEP paper, which is not a separate paper but a paper within the WRT 101 class and may have no relation to your SEP career choice. 

What is in it for students and their families?

  • Free Pima tuition and student fees, including most textbooks (a value of nearly $4,000). Note: There is a $50 VEC College Success Course Fee per VEC student to cover costs outside of what we are provided for our budget. 
  • Full time Vail School District staff to help with each personalized academic journey.
  • Specific training and activities to ensure that students benefit from the student support services offered by Pima.
  • Students can earn up to 30 transferrable college credits prior to graduating high school.
  • After graduation from high school, colleges/universities will view students as first year college students. This means that students will be eligible for Freshman/first year scholarships and financial aid packages.

How do students get to participate in the Vail Early College?

Students interested in being a part of the Vail Early College must go through an application process. The purpose is to make sure that the Early College is the right fit for the student and they are ready academically and emotionally for college early.

The application process is as follows:

1. The application process starts with students completing an online application, which includes recommendations from two core content teachers and a response to an essay prompt from the student. 

2. Applications received by the due date are evaluated and students are notified about the receipt of the application via email. Students who qualify for an interview are contacted to schedule an interview time. 

3. Once all interviews and final evaluations of applications are complete, students are notified via email if they are accepted. Ideally, we would like to notify students by spring break. 

How will students be selected?

  • Selection will focus on:
    • Completed Application
    • Progress Towards Graduation
    • Cumulative High School Grade Point Average 
    • Essay in Application
    • Ability to take College Level courses
    • Teacher Recommendations
    • Interview
    • Student Motivation


Questions??? Contact the Vail Early College Coordinator, Raylee May, at