"I Felt Like a Butterfly Spreading My Wings": Early College High Schools as Educational Counterspaces for Women From Marginalized Groups

Early College High Schools (ECHS) partner with post-secondary institutions to award students, specifically those from historically marginalized groups, with significant transferrable college credit—tuition free—along with a high school diploma. Utilizing the frameworks of counterspace and counterstory, this study aimed to understand the perceptions of 13 women who identify as of Color and/or low-income, who graduated from an ECHS and are now in college or are recent college graduates, regarding their experiences attending an ECHS and their preparation for post-secondary success. Qualitative analyses indicated the ECHS served as an educational counterspace with a variety of “structural-cultural” elements that were imperative to the participants’ transition to, engagement with, and success in college.