In 1950, Shimer College, with the support of the Ford Foundation, enrolled its first Early Entrants, allowing students to begin college prior to their high school graduation. Since then, the program has been supported by grants from the Carnegie Foundation and the Surdna Foundation.
Early Entrants at Shimer take the same college level courses as all other students at the college. The Great Books core curriculum, which immerses students in the major works, questions, and methods of more than 2000 years of the Western intellectual tradition, accounts for about two-thirds of the course work. The other third consists of elective courses that go in-depth in a particular subject or field. The study of primary texts, in discussion classes of 12 students or fewer, offers a unique environment for intellectual and personal growth, and fosters engaged, independent, and careful thinkers.
Early entrance provides an opportunity for motivated students to be recognized for their capacities, and to proceed at their own pace.
Early Entrants are automatically awarded a Robert Maynard Hutchins Scholarship in recognition of their academic potential. The scholarship ranges from $200 to $1400 per year according to need and is renewable annually for four years with the maintenance of a “B” average.
Each applicant to the Early Entrant Program is considered individually: the college will consider the application of any student who is intrigued by the idea of entering college early. Motivation, willingness to learn, and intellectual curiosity are the most important qualifications.