Going a step behind dual enrollment, high schools and community colleges are combining a “fifth year” of high school with the first year of college, reports Community College Times.
In Oregon, nearly 200 high school students will spend a fifth year earning an advanced high school diploma while attending and earning credits at Klamath Community College (KCC). Since these students are still considered to be enrolled in high school, their tuition, fees and textbooks for their first year at KCC are covered by the state’s funding to K-12 school districts.
The students will attend KCC as a cohort and take a college success course together. If they complete the year, they’ll earn an advanced high school diploma and as many as 39 college credits — for free. They’ll be able to continue at KCC, transfer to another college or enter the workforce.
Colorado’s Ascent program lets high school students delay graduation for a year while they attend a community college; the cost is covered by the state’s K-12 funding.
Community College of Aurora (CCA) has close to 100 Ascent students and 3,000 dual enrollment students, said Elena Sandoval-Lucero, dean of student success. To qualify for Ascent, students must complete at least 12 dual-enrollment credits before 12th grade and be ready to start in college-level courses. Some will be able to earn an associate degree in their “fifth year,” said Sandoval-Lucero.
High school educators hope fifth-year programs will encourage low-income students to start college at no cost and keep on going.