BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) – Imagine being able to work for a college degree when you start high school. This is what the first college in the Kern High School District is doing, in partnership with Bakersfield College.
KHSD and BC have a program for high school students to complete an associate degree even before turning 18. It’s free, books are provided, and transportation is available.
âThe confidence of knowing that if I take a college course, college is for me,â said Carla Stallworth, director of educational services at KHSD. âMost ninth graders probably don’t think about it, and then don’t really apply the idea of ââgoing to college, but it does create an opportunity for everyone.â
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 have gone further by launching an online associate degree program in fall 2020. They are now accepting applications for their next cycle.
âThey learn these college prep skills that many of us haven’t had the opportunity to learn until we have to understand them,â said Kylie Campbell, Director of Outreach Program at Bakersfield College.
Stallworth and Campbell say the nature of the program can bridge the gap between secondary and tertiary education, as other such programs have resulted in students completing their bachelor’s degree two years after high school.
âIt’s going to have a huge impact on our baccalaureate graduation rate, something in the county where we see the need now,â Campbell said. âBritish Columbia and the Kern High School District are really committed to closing this gap and increasing these rates. “
Campbell says classes are grade-appropriate with ninth graders starting with student development classes for career and public speaking opportunities.
Among the ninth grade cohorts last semester, there was an 82% retention rate. Among the 335 students in fall 2020, there was a 91% rate of obtaining a C or higher in their courses.
Five courses are available for the 175 to 250 students admitted to the program: for the summer
- Industrial automation
- Administration of justice
- Public health
- Introduction to healthcare professions
Applications should be sent out on March 26 and a virtual information meeting for parents and students will take place via zoom on March 1 or 2 at 6:00 p.m.