Beginning in Fall 2011 semester, Mt. San Jacinto College is expanding its Dual Enrollment Program that allows high school students to earn college credit at no cost.
The college's Dual Enrollment Program currently offers the AP Alternative Program through which high school students earn college and high school credit while meeting graduation requirements.
This fall, the college will also offer Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs as a second track, , according to MSJC Dean of Counseling and Student Services Tom Spillman.
Six out of the eight high school districts in Mt. San Jacinto College's immediate area have signed on to participate in the program, including Banning Unified School District and Beaumont Unified School District, Spillman said.
Three new areas of coursework will be offered: multimedia, child development and medical assisting.
Students who enroll in the program take the college courses through their high schools. The classes are free, and the high schools provide the books.
Students can graduate with numerous college credits, preparing them for the next step of their education or careers. Many of the course credits are transferable to colleges and universities.
"We're leading the way," Spillman said. "Students entering their freshman year will be better prepared for the rigors of college coursework, and it's cost effective. Some students are knocking out a year of college before they even graduate high school."
The college started the dual enrollment program in 2009. Courses offered vary from freshmen composition, critical thinking to mathematics. The college plans to expand academic courses into the social sciences, science and humanities.
So far, students have been awarded 4,144 college credits, saving students and their families the equivalent of approximately $6.9 million if they were to attend a private college or university.
The program expansion is in response to the national call to action issued by the Obama Administration to increase college graduation rates so that the United States will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. To meet that goal, 5 million new college students must graduate nationwide by the year 2020.
In an effort to meet the 2020 vision, the college's priority is to bring together high schools, industry stakeholders and community colleges.
"We're all working toward the same goal," Spillman said. "The program solidifies an effective mechanism that promotes college and workforce readiness. The concept is to get all these high school districts going in the same direction, meeting industry needs while meeting the students’ needs for high school and college."
The other high school districts that have signed on to participate in the program are Lake Elsinore Unified School District, Murrieta Valley Unified School District, San Jacinto Unified School District and Perris Unified School District.
About the Desert Regional Consortium of Community Colleges:
The Desert Regional Consortium consists of 13 community colleges and two community college districts in Riverside, San Bernardino and Kern counties. The consortium assists colleges in providing professional development opportunities and designing programs to improve workforce training and technical education. The consortium was formed to address the economic development needs of industry, government and the community.
The consortium members are Barstow College, Cerro Coso Community College, Chaffey College, College of the Desert, Copper Mountain College, Crafton Hills College, Mt. San Jacinto College, Moreno Valley College, Norco College, Palo Verde College, Riverside City College, Riverside Community College District, San Bernardino Community College District, San Bernardino Valley College, Victor Valley College.
More information on the consortium is available at www.desertcolleges.org.