Engage. Inspire. Empower.

How to Apply

*Freshmen application season for the 2023-2024 school year is now CLOSED.*

The above application site holds are things application related. You will find information on Challenger Early College High School, How to Apply, Application Process Timeline , Information Session Signups, and of course, the APPLICATION.

Established in 2005-2006, CHALLENGER Early College High School is a public high school and joint oversight project of the Catawba Valley Education Consortium, including Catawba County Schools, Alexander County Schools, Hickory City Schools, Newton-Conover City Schools, and Catawba Valley Community College.  We are not a comprehensive high school; we are an early college. The school vision is for every student to be ready for college, careers, and life in the 21st Century.  In order to attain the vision, entering freshmen students are enrolled in a four year program of study in which they can earn a high school diploma and college credit up to an Associate degree at Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC).  All academic work reflects the high level of rigor required by the national early college high school model in mostly honors classes. Our graduates are exposed to life skills, 21st Century Skills, Habits of Mind, an ePortfolio requirement, student-led conferences, a university prep curriculum requirement, and a junior-year volunteer service requirement.

Students apply to Challenger at the end of 8th grade.  One hundred freshmen are accepted to enter Challenger each year.  The student body is widely diverse, selected according to an acceptance formula and suitability factor which gives priority consideration to the level of education attained by their parents, family socio-economic status, ethnicity population at national universities, single-parent home status, and teacher recommendations.


  • 100% Graduation Rate for 10 years in a row

  • "A" ranking by NC Report Cards

  • Student growth score of 86.7%

  • Average Class size is 19.5 students

  • #6 out of 510 of "NC High Schools" per School Digger

  • Over 95% proficiency on ACT (Top 30 in NC)

  • Average SAT is 1228 (Top 10% in NC)  

Application Timeline 

  • December: Dr. Ijames visits Catawba County middle schools to tell students about our school

  • By January 1st: Student application becomes available on the website

  • End of January: Open House Night for parents and students

  • February 15th: Student application due date

  • By March 15th: Acceptance, Wait List, and Denial letters are mailed to students

  • By April 15th: Acceptance letters are due back from students