Local community colleges have seen an increase in the number of high school students taking advantage of programs that allow them to earn college credit while in high school. 

“[Dual enrollment] gives students a chance to engage in and complete college level work before they get into college,” said College of the Sequoias Superintendent/President Stan Carrizosa. “They are saving time and they are saving money.”

College tuition is free for high school students in dual enrollment programs, he said.

Carrizosa said COS offers dual enrollment in English to only high school seniors at the moment and offers additional coursework at some campuses. He said COS hopes to expand its dual enrollment program to include math. 

So far, COS has 500 seniors enrolled in college level English courses for the fall at nine of their feeder high schools including Corcoran, Hanford, Hanford West and Sierra Pacific high schools.

Classes are taught by COS faculty on each of the high school campuses during the day except for Sierra Pacific High School. Sierra Pacific students walk to the COS Hanford Center next door, Carrizosa said.

“The idea was to make it accessible to seniors and build it right into their instructional day,” he said.

One of the reasons why COS decided to offer dual enrollment in English was because so many high school students tested below college level English when they took the placement test.

“A lot of students would get bogged down because they couldn’t get their English courses in the first year,” Carrizosa said.

He said English preparatory courses are a pre-requisite for other classes like social science and anatomy at COS.

“It is a pretty big deal for them to enroll into COS with all of their English requirements done,” he said.

West Hills College Lemoore

WHCL Pathways Director Giselle Simon said the college partnered with the Kings Regional Occupational Programs that offers courses in health occupation, public safety, education, and web design on campus at many local high schools.

“Students that successfully complete these articulated high school courses have the ability to earn college credit at WHCL,” she said in an email.

This year, the college is offering food service and hospitality courses at Avenal High School, emergency response courses at Sierra Pacific High School, and transferable general education courses at Lemoore Middle College and Riverdale high schools.

Lemoore Middle College High School students make up almost half of WHCL’s dual enrollment population since the school is located on the college campus.

LMCHS Principal Chuck Gent said 95 percent of his high school students are enrolled in a college course either online or face-to-face.

“Our goal is to get them exposed to the college curriculum and what it’s like to take college courses,” he said.

Gent said the school encourages its high school students to enroll in at least one college class per semester.

Last year, 65 students graduated from LMCHS with seven earning an associate’s degree at the same time, Gent said.

LMCHS senior Christi Evasco said by May 2017, she has enough college credits to graduate with three associate’s degrees — in liberal arts humanities, liberal arts social science, and psychology.

“I am already here” she said. “I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to take advantage of the resources you have here.”

Christi said she wanted a challenge in high school which is why she enrolled in so many college courses since the start of her freshman year.

After graduation, she hopes to attend an Ivy League school on the East Coast and major in psychology.

“If you are going to do this, put your mind to it,” she said.

Senior Brittany Coykendall said she didn’t plan on going for an associate’s degree while in high school but decided to do so after finding out that she only has a few more credits until she is eligible.

“It saves a lot of time and a lot of money,” she said.

Senior Talha Khan is currently taking a statistics class this semester and is looking to get into a history class at WHCL.

He said he tries to take at least two to three college classes per semester.

“If I didn’t take college classes, I’d feel like I’d be cruising,” he said.

This reporter can be reached at csandoval@hanfordsentinel.com or 583-2422. 

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