(Denver, CO) – Irasema Moreno was always sure of her desire to go to college, but she was unsure of her ability to afford it.
“I wasn’t getting a lot of financial aid offers, so I wasn’t sure I’d be able to afford to go,” Moreno says.
Luckily, she was guided in the right direction and into Community College of Denver’s (CCD) concurrent enrollment program, College Pathways—just the ticket to help her achieve her dream of being a college graduate.
“Thank goodness I had high school counselors who thought of a way for me to go to college even without a hefty grant.”
Concurrent enrollment at CCD means students from area high schools can enroll in college-level courses while still in high school. Students can also participate in the ASCENT program, which allows them to delay their high school graduation by one year and take a full load of college courses during that time. Having taken this path, Moreno will have completed an associate’s degree from CCD by the time she graduates from high school.
“I knew it would be a smart move to try and knock off some of those required classes while I was still in high school,” she says. “It saved me so much time—and money.”
And she’s in good company. This fall, there are more than 1,600 high school students participating in CCD’s concurrent enrollment program, a 57 percent increase from the number of participants this time last year—and many of them like Moreno.
The steady rise in concurrent enrollment over the past four years fulfills the intent of this program to broaden access to college for high school students, particularly for those who are the first in their family to take college classes.
“Concurrent enrollment may be the best college investment a student can make because it allows him or her to earn college credit while still attending high school,” says CCD President Dr. Everette Freeman. “These are credits that are in the bank the first day they start college.”
It is also an ideal way for students seeking a college education to do it in a more cost-effective manner, saving them money. This is made possible because schools and districts are responsible for the high school student’s tuition.
In the 2013-14 school year, concurrent enrollment has saved students more than $1.3 million in tuition that they would otherwise have to pay themselves. This reduces many of the economic barriers they face and helps high school students get a jump-start on their college careers.
Most importantly, concurrent enrollment has academic benefits as well. Concurrent enrollment students pass their college classes at exceptionally high rates, they are building on initial academic success to propel them forward through college graduation. This helps level the playing field for students who may be at an academic disadvantage when graduating from high school and entering college.
“It helps close the achievement gap, particularly for first generation students and students of color,” says Dr. Brandon Protas, Ed.D., Director of College Pathways at CCD. “It’s a great way to get a head start on college, so they have less catching up to do when they arrive.”
Mereno agreed with this sentiment. “That was exactly what I needed,” Moreno stressed. “I one of the first in my family to attend college, and going through this program helped me make them proud.”
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Community College of Denver (CCD) is a leading point of entry to higher education for the city and county of Denver. CCD provides a cost effective, high-quality college education, along with access and opportunity for non-traditional students, workforce development, training resources for local organizations, and community partnerships.