Bard Early Colleges

Student Profiles

Lenina Mortimer ‘03

Lenina Mortimer ‘03

“I believe in BHSEC's core values. It provided me a platform to go to school, to learn.” VIEW MORE >>
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Our History

Our Beginnings

Bard College joined the early college movement in 1979, when Simon's Rock—the first private, residential early college—merged with Bard. Committed to the mission of allowing motivated students from all backgrounds to accelerate their learning and achievement, the leadership of Bard College and Simon’s Rock partnered with the New York City Department of Education to create the first Bard High School Early College (BHSEC), now located in Manhattan, New York, which opened in 2001. BHSEC is a public, four-year early college high school that adapts the mission and pedagogy of Simon's Rock and Bard College to a public school setting and allows students to earn an associate of arts degree from Bard College as well as a high school diploma. This alternative to traditional high school is founded on the belief that many young people are ready and eager to do serious college work starting at age 16. Bard College president Leon Botstein first made the case for the idea of early college in his book Jefferson's Children: Education and the Promise of American Culture

Growth of Our Network

In response to the rising demand for seats at BHSEC, and in order to make the BHSEC education accessible to students in more New York City neighborhoods, Bard partnered with the New York City Department of Education to create a second BHSEC campus in Queens. BHSEC Queens, located in Long Island City, New York, opened in 2008. That same year, Bard also established an early college campus in New Orleans, which adapted the BHSEC model to the particular needs of its local community. The Bard Early College in New Orleans enrolls students from almost all of the city's public and charter high schools in tuition-free, credit-bearing Bard College courses during the 11th and 12th grades. Like the BHSECs, the Bard Early College in New Orleans offers Bard’s signature seminar sequence and writing and thinking workshop, as well as a range of college electives taught by college professors across the liberal arts and sciences. 

In 2011, at the invitation of then-Mayor Cory Booker, Bard partnered with Newark Public Schools to open BHSEC Newark, which graduated its first class in 2013. In the fall of 2013, Bard launched an early college program in partnership with the Harlem Children’s Zone. BHSEC Cleveland opened in the fall of 2014, in partnership with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. In the fall of 2015, Bard opened a fifth Bard High School Early College in Baltimore, working with the Baltimore City Public Schools. BHSEC Cleveland's East Campus and the Bard Early College in Hudson, NY opened in the Fall of 2017. Bard is grateful to all of its partners for their support in making the early colleges successful.