Front Range Community College’s hallways are filled with students of all kinds, including those still in high school. The College Now program at FRCC allows high school students to take college classes for dual credits.
In 2009, Colorado passed a legislation that gives high school students the opportunity to take college classes. According to Sheena Martin, Director of Concurrent Enrollment at FRCC, “Students take college courses, their high schools pay for the college courses that they take and they get high school and college credit for them.”
The legislation mandates that high schools must pay for concurrent enrollment students’ tuitions until they earn their associate’s degrees. For most students, this means that they postpone their high school graduations until they earn their associate’s degrees, then they can graduate late from high school but with two years of college education under their belts.
Before enrolling, students must take a placement test, but the program is not as selective as people tend to think. “The requirements vary by high school, but students generally have to maintain a certain GPA and attendance in the college classes,” Martin said. Presently FRCC welcomes a diverse group of concurrent enrollment students, with GPAs between 2.0 and 4.0; high school students really only need passion to succeed in the program.
To maintain eligibility, students must take only classes that pertain to their educational and career paths. “If they want to be a journalist, or a history major, or a psychology major, somehow they have to justify that the classes they’re taking fit into that,” Martin said.
Martin stated that some concurrent enrollment students flourish more in a college setting than in high school. The social pressures of high school prevent many students from achieving their full academic potential, as they focus on popularity over passing grades. “They get hooked. They get interested in the subject matter over the social stigmas,” Martin said.
Rebekah Wilmoth, a concurrent enrollment student at FRCC’s Westminster campus, got involved in the program to accelerate her educational path. “I’ll be able to leave high school with a lot of general education classes finished,” she said, “I can jump start my career.”
In addition to opportunity, the College Now program encourages student success.
“Research is showing that students who get nine to 12 credits or more are more likely to continue [their educations],” Martin said.
Martin also reported that 93 percent of FRCC’s concurrent enrollment students passed their college classes last semester.
As the program gains recognition, an increasing number of high school students enroll in college classes at FRCC. “About five years ago, we had just under 400 students,” Martin said, “This semester, we’re at about 1,200 students.”
Despite the overwhelming number of concurrent enrollment students on FRCC campuses, most regular students have no understanding of the program. Concurrent enrollment students comprise a notable portion of FRCC’s population, contributing to the college’s scores and community.
Written by Kayla Klein
Photo from Colorado Community College System