KHSD, BC offers early college courses for high school students
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Imagine being able to work toward a college degree when you start high school. This is what the first college in the Kern High School District does, in partnership with Bakersfield College.
Both KHSD and BC have a program for high school students to complete an associate’s degree before they even turn 18. It’s free, books are provided, and transportation is available.
“The confidence of knowing that if I’m taking a college course, college is for me,” said Carla Stallworth, director of educational services at KHSD. “Most ninth graders probably don’t really think about and apply the idea of going to college, but it creates an opportunity for all of them.”
For KHSD and BC, it was important to create opportunity and equity for students preparing for college.
Dual enrollment has existed between the two institutions since 2015. They took it a step further by launching an online associate degree completion program in the fall of 2020. They are now accepting applications for their next cycle.
“They’re learning those college-readiness skills that a lot of us didn’t have the opportunity to learn before we had to figure it out,” Kylie Campbell, director of the outreach program at Bakersfield College, said at the start of the university.
Stallworth and Campbell argue that the nature of the program can bridge the gap between secondary and tertiary education, as other such programs have required students to complete their bachelor’s degree two years after high school.
“It’s going to have a huge impact on our high school graduation rate, something in the county, where we see the need right now,” Campbell said. “BC and the Kern High School District are truly committed to closing this gap and increasing these rates.”
Campbell says classes are grade-level appropriate, with ninth-graders beginning with student development classes for academic and career opportunities and public speaking.
Among the ninth grade cohorts in the last semester, there was an 82% retention rate. Among the 335 students in Fall 2020, there was a 91% rate of earning a C or higher in their courses.
Five courses are offered to the 175 to 250 students admitted to the program: for the summer
- industrial automation
- The administration of justice
- Public health
- Introduction to health professions
Applications are due on March 26 and a virtual information meeting for parents and students will be held via zoom on March 1 or March 2 at 6:00 p.m.