Program boasts enrollment of more than 1,000 students

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FARMINGTON — Enrollment for dual-credit high school students is open at San Juan College, and the college is opening the program to high school freshmen and sophomores for the first time in its history.

Dual enrollment allows high school students to earn both high school and college credits by taking San Juan College courses while in high school.

Abby Calcote, the college’s enrollment services coordinator, said the program began at San Juan College in 2008 and has grown tremendously since then.

In the past, the program has been open to students who are entering their junior year, but Calcote said the program will accept freshmen and sophomores beginning with the 2018 summer semester.

She said the move to accept underclassmen came after representatives of local and regional high schools expressed a greater interest in certificate and training programs to increase the employability of their students after graduation.

Program demand also has increased since San Juan College High School, the college’s public high school program, opened in 2016. It receives more applications that it has openings.

“I think they allow 100 (incoming freshmen) this year and last year, so now the students who don’t end up getting to come to San Juan College High School may have the opportunity to take a class” through dual enrolling, Calcote said.

More than 1,000 students from San Juan County and outlying school districts are enrolled in the program this semester, Calcote said. Enrollment in the program is generally paid for by a student’s school district using state funding, and students can pursue an associate degree or other certificates while simultaneously earning a high school diploma.

Calcote said the program provides an opportunity for high school students to get their feet wet before deciding on a college major or career path and to get a general “feel of how college works.”

“This is a good opportunity to figure out maybe what you want to do or what your student wants to do before they get to college,” Calcote said during an information night at the Henderson Fine Arts Center on April 10. “I don’t know about some of you parents, but I changed my major like three times in college, so hopefully (dual enrollment will help) avoid all that major changing.”

Alex Shirley, a sophomore at Kirtland High School, said the fact that “you can get everything done a lot faster” is what interested him in the program, and that the independence of dual enrollment — and what it represents — is also appealing.

“It means that I can better myself as a person,” Shirley said of being able to attend college as a high school student. “My home life, I guess you can say, isn’t all that good, so I’m trying to get everything in school finished so I can provide for myself.”

Students must apply to the college to enroll in the dual-credit program, as well as take a computer placement test and attend orientation before registering. Parents and high school counselors also must approve a student's enrollment before she or he is accepted into the program.

More information about the program is available at sanjuancollege.edu/student-services/departments/enrollment-services/dual-credit/.

Calcote will also host a third information night at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Room 115 of the college’s West Campus in Kirtland. The college presented similar events at the East Campus in Aztec in early April and at the main campus in Farmington this past Tuesday.

Megan Petersen covers business and education for The Daily Times. Reach her at 505-564-4621 or mpetersen@daily-times.com.

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