Concurrent enrollment gives students head start |

Concurrent enrollment gives students head start

CARBONDALE, Colorado – For some high school students planning to attend college, getting a head start – before they get their high school diploma – is something they can’t pass up.

Because of financial support from the school district, successful completion of the courses is free to students and their parents. And having a community college close to home makes it even easier. But the classes are not easy.

Those are some of the impressions from high school students in a Colorado Mountain College English Composition class at Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale, offered through the state’s concurrent enrollment program.

“Colleges look at things like what honors you earned and if you took any hard classes,” said Samantha Belcher, a senior at Roaring Fork.

Terra Salamida, another Roaring Fork senior, said the college-level classes are not for everyone, though.

“They’re not the easiest, but that’s what they’re about,” she said.

Thanks to the state’s Concurrent Enrollment Programs Act (CEPA), qualified high school students can take commonly required college-level classes such as English, algebra, Spanish and social sciences. Classes might be offered at a local college, in local high schools or via distance learning. In these classes high school students can simultaneously earn college or vocational credit toward a postsecondary diploma or certificate, or toward a college degree, while also receiving credit toward a high school diploma.

Although for years the college-transfer-level courses have been available in the state, the recent CEPA legislation has introduced some changes. High school students must work with their high school counselor on a plan to determine if, and which, courses would be in their best interests.

Another change is to the way classes are funded. Families previously paid for the college classes and received reimbursement from the school district if students completed the course with a grade of C or better. Now the school districts will pay for the classes through per-pupil funding from the state, if students complete the course with a C or better. Families will only reimburse the costs if students do not successfully complete the course.

Also, school districts – such as the four in a local pilot program with Colorado Mountain College – can now partner with colleges to offer career tech classes for students who seek more of a vocational focus. Though these can also be dual-credit courses, they’re not intended to transfer to universities. Participating in the pilot program are the Roaring Fork School District, Garfield Re-2 School District, Garfield County School District No. 16 and DeBeque School District 49.

Classes provide incentive, challenge

“I like the fact that the school district pays the tuition,” said Colton Mingledorff, a senior at Yampah Mountain High School. “That’s a very good incentive.”

Dalton Handy, another senior at Roaring Fork, said the English comp class was “definitely more of a challenge than high school. I took an (Advanced Placement) language class, but there’s nothing tougher than a college-level course.”

Concurrent enrollment courses are college courses, so the amount of work necessary to be successful may be much greater than high school classes. Concurrent enrollment courses, and grades earned in them, are also listed on a student’s permanent college transcript.

Belcher said she would strongly recommend that high school seniors take a close look at a concurrent enrollment class in English composition if they plan to go to college. The class offered through Colorado Mountain College is guaranteed to count for credit toward a bachelor’s degree at any public four-year college or university in Colorado.

CMC’s concurrent enrollment classes are a good transition to higher learning, Mingledorff said. He said he’ll include the class writing assignments in a graduation portfolio required by Yampah. He plans to attend a four-year college after graduating from high school.

For information about and requirements for the concurrent enrollment program, high school students and their parents should talk to their high school counselor.

In January, a Web page will be launched that will help students and their high school counselors find out more about available courses.

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