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Why Taking College Courses In High School Is Super Smart

Ingenuity Charter School students in a classroom

Ingenuity Charter School students visit community colleges to learn more about courses and programs offered for concurrent enrollment.

By Sarah Beauchemin

Years ago, high school and college were two distinctly separate spaces. Students first graduated high school, then moved into general education courses at a community college or four-year university.

But that has changed. San Diego is one of many cities across the U.S. where high school students can enjoy concurrent enrollment in community colleges courses.

Ingenuity Charter School – San Diego’s leading hybrid learning institution, which opened in 2015 – recognizes the important academic and social benefits of concurrent enrollment and has made it one of their top student priorities.

“Concurrent enrollment is especially crucial for our students at Ingenuity, because many are the first generation in their families to attend college,” said Nicole Huerta, hybrid learning instructor at Ingenuity.

“Concurrent enrollment also lets our students ‘test out’ college with the safety net of still being in high school and having teachers and staff from both institutions to lean on,” she added. “Students can learn how to manage their time in school and establish a routine – all of which is necessary for success in college.”

Introducing Students to Campus Life

Students touring San Diego City College

Ingenuity Charter School students touring San Diego City College

To get students psyched about all the opportunities that concurrent enrollment affords, Ingenuity Charter School has lined up in-depth tours of regional college campuses for the 2018-19 school year.

Instructors survey students to find out what their post-secondary school and career interests are, then they select the community colleges and CSUs that are most closely aligned with those interests and schedule tours. This year, those schools are Chula Vista Adult Ed, City College, Southwestern College and San Diego State University.

“Campus tours are typically conducted by either current students or alumni, so our students get an authentic presentation from their peers,” said Steven Shilling, Ingenuity instructor and school counselor.

Students are encouraged to ask honest questions of their tour guides to get a good feel for what college and campus life is really like – something that they can really only grasp through first-hand campus visits.

“We want them to not only see how accessible college is to them, but we also want them to see how there are many resources available to help them attend,” said Huerta. “The goal is to show students that they are capable of going to college and achieving their goals – especially if they are the first ones in their families to do so.”

The Benefits of Concurrent Enrollment

Concurrent enrollment of high school students in local community colleges has been available for a while in San Diego. However, Ingenuity instructors recently learned more about the degree to which concurrent enrollment has a lasting, positive impact on students – which is why staff have begun pushing their students to participate.

“Research shows that high school students who concurrently enroll in college classes are significantly more likely to complete community college and/or graduate from universities,” said Huerta.

Please contact Ingenuity Charter School for more information about concurrent enrollment and how we can meet your student’s needs.

Since most Ingenuity students are from underserved communities and have faced significant challenges in their young lives already, any opportunity that helps increase their chance of completing college is taken very seriously.

“We have decided to make it a point to get more of our students involved in the program,” said Shilling. “Each teacher in our school is talking to students about the possibility of enrolling in college classes.”

The incentives to enroll are many, Shilling notes. For one thing, tuition is free for high school students. Besides some minimal supply costs for select classes, students do not need to worry about paying for anything. They also receive both high school and college credit for their class, and community college classes carry the same GPA weight as high school AP classes.

Ingenuity students who have enrolled concurrently in college courses agree that they have found it very beneficial. One such person is Jared Pedron, who is concurrently enrolled at City College. Concurrent enrollment has lessened Jared’s anxiety about college and increased his self-confidence.

“One of the biggest benefits I can see coming from concurrent enrollment is being able to move ahead into college courses while also being allowed to finish the final ‘straggly’ bits of high school,” he said. “I also don’t need to go through the hassle of getting the paperwork done all over again to try for the first time next year, after graduation at Ingenuity. The other benefit is that I get to see how the college system works, and I have time to transition into it rather than just jumping straight in.”

Overall, Ingenuity instructors believe that the concurrent enrollment program will add tremendous value to their students’ lives, both personally and professionally.

“I think concurrent enrollment will cultivate more inspired, educated and well-rounded students,” said Huerta. “Students will graduate Ingenuity with a clear plan in place and feel confident in continuing their education. These students will also serve as role models for our younger students, setting strong examples for them and encouraging them to think about their post-secondary goals early on. I am excited to see what the future will hold for these kids.”