High school students across Cerro Coso’s service area are enrolling in college credit classes and finding that graduating from college before even graduating from high school is a very real possibility.

Nine high school students graduated with associate degrees from Cerro Coso this May, within weeks of graduating from their respective high school. Two of the students attended the college’s Tehachapi Campus, one from the online program, and seven from the Mammoth Lakes Campus. This is the result of partnerships with service area high schools.

These nine students are way ahead of the curve. Earning their associate degrees will save these students tuition at a four-year university.

Money wasn’t the reason Mammoth High School student Cesar Pina took dual/concurrent enrollment classes at Cerro Coso. He took them because it was an easier way for him to replace regular high school classes with classes that would satisfy both college and high school credits.

“This is great because now I am a college sophomore technically,” he said. Pina is headed off to CSU Northridge in the fall.

Isla Lackey agrees: “Taking Cerro Coso classes really helped me get prepared for university. I am going to UC San Diego this fall, and because I was able to graduate high school with my associate’s degree, I have saved thousands of dollars by taking classes I would have had to take my first two years at college for free during high school. I genuinely feel more prepared, by taking freshman English and math classes at Cerro Coso and doing well in them, I know I can be successful at a four-year university.”

These graduates represent a growing trend of high school students graduating college before graduating high school. The early college program allows high school students to earn college credits before their high school diploma.

Dual Enrollment means a student is both a high school and college student taking college courses on the high school campus during their high school day. The high school instructor teaching the college course meets the required minimum qualifications for teaching at the college level. While the dual enrollment course is taught at the high school, it is a college course and is taught in the same rigor and with the same expectations and outcomes as a college course.

Another option available to high students is concurrent enrollment, which means the student is both a high school and college student taking college courses at the local Cerro Coso campus or through the college’s online program in addition to their high school classes. Cerro Coso instructors teach these college courses.

“We are very proud of these exceptional students,” said Cerro Coso President Sean Hancock.

More information on Cerro Coso’s Dual and Concurrent Enrollment Program is available on the college website at www.cerrocoso.edu.

Natalie Dorrell is the director of public relations and institutional advancement for Cerro Coso Community College.