high school students working in an FRCC classroom

Going to college can be a daunting task for a first-time student. For some, it takes a lot of courage to walk through the door on the first day of class. For others, balancing responsibilities between college, family and work is the bigger challenge.

Now imagine making the decision to attend college while still in high school. That may seem like an overwhelming task, but that is exactly what high school students do when they participate in concurrent enrollment courses at Front Range Community College.  

What is Concurrent Enrollment?

Concurrent enrollment is a program that provides college-ready high school students the opportunity to enroll in college courses—and earn college credit—without having to pay tuition. Students can take these classes at their high school, on a college campus or online, and work towards a degree or certificate.

Authorized in 2009, Colorado’s Concurrent Enrollment Programs Act enables high school students to take college courses taught by college instructors in order to jumpstart their college career without incurring student debt. FRCC is one of 22 colleges in the state that offer concurrent enrollment courses. By doing so, we’re creating a supportive pathway into higher education for high school students; especially those from underrepresented communities.

How Does It Work?

Students who enroll in college courses while in high school are simultaneously earning both high school credit toward their diploma and college credit toward a degree. All FRCC courses offered through concurrent enrollment meet the learning outcomes set by the Colorado Community College System (CCCS).

A college instructor delivers the material to the students in their classroom—which can be at the high school, on the college campus, or online. Students meet the expectations of the college course and achieve all of the course learning outcomes to earn their college credit.

A Lot of Students Are On Board

In 2020, more than 50,000 Colorado high school students participated in the concurrent enrollment program. That number is increasing each year as more high schools partner with their local college or university. Colorado concurrent enrollment students attempted nearly 350,000 credit hours in the 2019-2020 academic year with a 93% pass rate.

Since the introduction of the Concurrent Enrollment Programs Act, 98% of Colorado school districts have partnered with their local community colleges to offer these opportunities to college-ready students—which means there’s likely some kind of concurrent enrollment option in your school district.

Why Take College Classes in High School?

There are many reasons students participate in concurrent enrollment. For starters, they gain exposure to the academic challenges of college while in their supportive high school environment.

Supportive Exploration

Another reason to give concurrent enrollment a try is that some students are unsure if college is the right fit for them. These early college classes increase their confidence in their own ability to succeed in college, which sets them on a path toward future success. Statistics reveal that students who participate in concurrent enrollment establish stronger study habits and routines and are, therefore, more likely to graduate from high school.

Concurrent enrollment is also an opportunity for students to explore topics of interest and help guide their college and career path. And of course, when they successfully pass each course, students earn transcripted college credit—giving them a jump start on earning a degree. Accelerating their college pathway saves students time and money after high school graduation.

Concurrent Enrollment Leads to Success

In addition to earning college credit, concurrent enrollment students learn a variety of other skills such as organization, resilience, persistence, self-advocacy and time management. Not only are they statistically more likely to complete college, they also do better in their high school courses.

Data collected in Colorado show that students in concurrent enrollment programs are more likely to:

  • have higher postsecondary GPAs
  • need less remediation
  • complete their postsecondary education
  • have higher workforce earnings after postsecondary completion

A Gentle Introduction to College

Starting college studies early helps smooth the transition to college life. Having access to college courses while still in high school is a way for students to receive a college experience with a support system that includes their school counselors, families and the college’s Concurrent enrollment team as well.

Though still in high school, all concurrent enrollment students are officially considered college students, which means they can take advantage of all of the resources that college campuses offer. At FRCC, that means the library, academic supports like our campus writing centers and tutoring services, free mental health counseling and more.

Concurrent enrollment students can attend fun learning events on Front Range campuses, engage in clubs and activities, and participate in a variety of other campus-based events run by our academic departments. Concurrent enrollment students are college students!

Rigorous Academics, Diverse Experiences

Even when students take concurrent enrollment classes at their high school with peers of the same age, college faculty still determine the curriculum, course materials and methods of delivery. All courses offered through concurrent enrollment must meet the same expectations and rigor as our on-campus courses.

For students who take concurrent enrollment courses on a college campus, they get the experience of learning alongside their college-age (and older) classmates. As we know from experience at community colleges, there’s a lot you can learn from people who have different backgrounds or who are in different places in their lives.

That’s one of the great things about FRCC: Our students don’t just learn from the college’s highly-qualified professors. They all learn from each other, too.

How Do I Sign Up?

Concurrent enrollment opportunities are offered at all three of FRCC’s campuses or at your home high school. If you are interested in taking a concurrent enrollment course, speak to your high school counselor first.

Your counselor will help determine if you are college ready and then help you identify what courses would best fit your college pathway. You can also visit our website for more information about concurrent enrollment.

A Free Jump-Start on College

Concurrent enrollment allows students to have a college experience while still in the supportive high school environment. It also gives students the chance to earn college credit without incurring student debt.

Students who participate in concurrent enrollment:

  • are more successful in their regular high school courses taken alongside a concurrent enrollment course
  • are 77% more likely to matriculate to a college campus after high school
  • are more likely to earn a degree within two years of high school graduation
  • have higher workforce earning within five years when compared to those who did not participate in concurrent enrollment

A Game Changer

As the program grows across the state of Colorado, more opportunities will be available, more pathways will be created, and more students will be able to participate in concurrent enrollment thanks to the state legislation.

Some students may already have a college pathway planned—and concurrent enrollment is an opportunity to achieve their degree goals sooner. For other students, having access to concurrent enrollment courses may help them realize that they do belong in college and can be successful with the supports provided.

Whatever the reason, the opportunities that concurrent enrollment presents can be a life changing. Speak to your counselor today to see what concurrent enrollment can do for you!

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