High School Students Can Now Take College Courses for Free

Giving high school students an opportunity to take community college courses helps students complete a degree more quickly and can come at a savings. Research shows that high school students who take college courses are more likely to complete both a high school diploma and a degree.

This week EdSource reported that many more California high school students were enrolled in community college courses. Last year, the College and Career Pathways Act went into effect, and it promotes partnerships between K-12 districts and community colleges. This law also enables college courses to be offered on high school campuses to high school students. Previously, high school students had to take college classes during the time that they were out of high school and off-site.

According to EdSource:

“The law allows high school students to take up to 15 units per semester of college courses, up from a previous limit of 11 units. All courses are free to students, including no costs for textbooks and other materials. The law also streamlines sharing of student data among high schools and community colleges, and makes it easier for parents to consent to enrolling their children in college courses.”

In the 2015-2016 academic year, approximately 50,000 high school students took at least one college course in an “early college” program.

One of the goals of the early college programs is to expose young people to college courses so that they can be inspired to continue their education. Often, young people who get stuck or into trouble report being unchallenged in their high school courses. College courses can help students explore other subjects, career paths, and even majors before making a more firm commitment as a full-time college students.

The early college programs may end up being more attractive than Advanced Placement courses, which allow high school students who pass AP tests at the end of the course to earn college credit (assuming that the institution that they attend accepts AP credit). Advanced Placement exams cost $93 per exam. The early college courses are free to students with zero cost for materials and textbooks.
If your child is in high school, ask the administration about the ‘early college’ program and whether it would be appropriate for your student to enroll.

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