Kids in the area looking to launch their college career early can head over to Santa Barbara City College, where they can sign up for a dual enrollment program that saw the likes of Katy Perry and water polo olympian Kami Craig since the program’s start in 1989.
There are three avenues that can help high school students earn college and high school credits simultaneously: taking classes at SBCC, taking SBCC classes at their high school, and taking SBCC classes online. This means that all students who have passed eighth grade can enroll in this program, whether they attend a homeschool, private school or public school.
“The college waives tuition for dual enrollment students,” said Luz Reyes-Martin, the school’s executive director of public affairs and communications. Ms. Reyes-Martin told the News-Press, however, the college only waives tuition up until 11.9 units. Once a student reaches 12 units, she or he must petition the dual enrollment programs office to exceed 11.9 and pay $46 per unit for all 12 or more units, bringing the bill to at least $552.
Those wishing to exceed 11.9 can apply for a tuition fee waiver through financial aid, though this is the only financial aid available to dual enrollment students, according to Ms. Reyes-Martin.
Aside from the 11.9 unit-cap, there are no caps on a student’s enrollment.
“There is no maximum amount of credits a dual enrollment student can earn during their high school career,” said Ms. Reyes-Martin.
But there are some caveats to keep in mind for students and their parents.
“The credits earned as a high school student do count towards degree maximums once they enroll as a first-time college student, “ said Ms. Reyes-Martin. Furthermore, “the grades earned as a dual enrollment student factor into financial aid and academic standing calculations at that time.”
Taking part in a dual enrollment program may help a student find his or her calling before starting college. As long as the student is taking under 12 units, the exploration at SBCC is much lower in cost compared to paying tuition as a college student. Because the grades would count towards academic standing calculations, however, students should be aware going into the program that it may be a lot of work to maintain performing in high school (classes and extracurricular) while earning college credits.
Taking college courses in high school could help a student graduate from college earlier than others. The pro to this is that a student can enter the professional workforce and begin having spending power earlier in life. The con, however, is that the time management required to balance high school classes, extracurricular activities and college classes may create burnout. A family must weigh the positives and negatives of a dual enrollment program before entering.
There are three steps required for those who do want to enroll: application to the college, parent consent form, and school counselor approval. These steps can be completed online, and step-by-step instructions can be found on sbcc.edu/dualenrollment.