Oceanside CA— Why wait? That’s the message from MiraCosta College, which is expanding its selection of college courses to high school students this fall through a new pilot program that offers several classes at Cathedral Catholic High School in Carmel Valley.
“This pilot program provides MiraCosta College and Cathedral Catholic High School with the opportunity to work together and provide pathways for high school students into college through early experiences with college-level courses,” said Dr. Mary Benard, MiraCosta College’s vice president, instructional services.
MiraCosta College courses offered at the high school include Psychology 101, Sociology 101, History 110, and Mathematics 265. Students taking part in the dual-enrollment program will earn college credit for the courses they complete while at the same time meeting high school graduation requirements.
Cathedral Catholic High School is compensating MiraCosta College for the cost of the program, and students are exempt from paying enrollment fees.
MiraCosta College has long offered for-credit courses at its Oceanside and San Elijo campuses to high school students. In spring 2014, the college went further by offering dual-enrollment evening classes at Sage Creek High School in Carlsbad. Classes at Sage Creek, and at Cathedral Catholic, were selected based on those that are in the highest demand by high school students.
According to the Community College Research Center at Columbia University, nearly 1.3 million high school students took a college course as part of a dual enrollment program in the 2010-11 school year, the most recent year for which statistics are available. That’s an increase of nearly 500,000 since 2002-03.
“Colleges and school districts have begun to embrace dual enrollment as a strategy for improving college attendance and persistence among students who might lack sufficient preparation for college,” states a Community College Research Center study. “Participation in dual enrollment can help these students succeed in higher education by giving them a realistic idea of what college requires and giving them a head start on college-level work. Dual enrollment has the added benefit of potentially reducing the cost of college by providing low- or no-cost college credit and shortening the time to a degree.”
MiraCosta College has been moving toward opening its doors to more high school students over the past few years, and the number of local high school students taking MiraCosta courses has skyrocketed by nearly 450 percent since it eliminated fees for high schoolers concurrently enrolled in college classes less than three years ago.
Just 85 high school students were concurrently enrolled at MiraCosta College in the fall of 2013, the semester immediately before the new policy took effect. That number more than doubled the following spring semester. This past spring – just two years after the fees were waived – some 466 high school students are also taking MiraCosta College courses.
In all, some 2,092 high school students have benefitted from the policy change, with the total number of classes taken by concurrently enrolled students since the fall of 2013 reaching 3,397.