Empowering Futures through Dual Enrollment Collaborations

For many, the transition from high school to college can be daunting and cost prohibitive. Through Dual Enrollment, students can get a jumpstart on their college degree or certificate while still in high school, often free of charge. The Ventura County Community College District (VCCCD) is deeply committed to growing Dual Enrollment opportunities across the county together with our Ventura County middle and high school partners.

Dual Enrollment, simply put, is when a student pursuing their high school diploma or GED also enrolls in college classes. There are three main ways that students can dually enroll:

  • Middle and high school students can enroll in a class on a college campus or online that fits their schedule, either outside school hours or during their summer term.
  • Through a College & Career Access Pathways (CCAP) agreement, high school students can complete college courses on their high school campus during school hours. These dual enrollment opportunities allow high school students to experience college courses in an environment that is convenient and highly supportive. These course credits apply toward a college degree or certificate as well as their high school diploma. In addition, by providing these courses during the regular bell-schedule, students have the ability to complete college courses, even if they have after school responsibilities or participate in extracurricular activities.
  • College courses can also be taught at high school campuses outside of the regular bell-schedule, creating additional access to highly requested courses at a convenient location for young learners.

In the State Chancellor’s Vision 2030 strategic directions for increasing equity in success, access, and support, high importance is placed on Dual Enrollment. The VCCCD’s strategic goals are aligned with this vision, as we aim to grow our dual enrollment population from the 5,617 students enrolled in 2018 to 8,426 by 2027. To further this goal, the VCCCD and the Ventura County Office of Education (VCOE) are working together to foster deep partnerships between the colleges and school districts.

On Nov. 13, the VCCCD cohosted a Dual Enrollment Community of Practice with the VCOE. This first of its kind event brought leaders from our two systems together to develop a preliminary vision for dual enrollment expansion across the county. Discussions highlighted the need to strategically create (and build upon existing) equitable high school pathways that lead to college certificate and degree programs and meet local workforce needs. Our draft vision identifies areas of focus to ensure equitable and accessible dual enrollment education:

  • Create a clearer pathway to college, particularly for students who have not considered higher education or may not yet see college in their future;
  • Grow the number of students who have taken a defined series of college courses before graduating high school;
  • Increase the number of college units taken per student towards a certificate or degree, with the goal of at least 12 units per student, while providing the necessary support to ensure these students succeed, and;
  • Increase the number of students who continue and complete a college degree.

College and Career Access Pathway (CCAP) programs were a particularly salient topic as we looked at ways to develop opportunities for all students. While non-CCAP dual enrollment is available for students to choose courses that suit their schedules and interests individually, CCAP programs are ideal for students who have after school obligations, such as part-time jobs or caretaking duties at home. Additionally, because CCAP courses have no textbook cost, tuition, or fees, students enter their college program with a significantly reduced financial burden.

Given the deep commitment between Ventura County’s K-12 and college partners, we are optimistic about the growth of this critical program in service to all our students. By continuing these conversations with our fellow educators and community stakeholders, we can move the needle on dual enrollment. In time, we will find new ways to meet the needs of our county’s students and create supports for them, no matter their individual college and career pathways. The Community Colleges of Ventura County remain committed to empowering our community’s learners and furthering our mission to foster student success.

Guest Column by Rick MacLennan, Ed.D., chancellor of the Community Colleges of Ventura County. For more information about the District, visit VCCCD.edu.
VC Star | Ventura County Star
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