Being prepared for college shouldn’t happen by chance

Ending up in a concurrent enrollment class in high school happened almost by accident.

I mean I was always good at reading but my writing left a lot to be desired. My writing ability was subpar and was partially the reason for me failing my freshman English class. For the next two years I took English language development or other basic English classes. In my junior year I took the ACT and thanks to my 29 score in reading, I was able to enroll in a concurrent enrollment class for English in high school.

At first I struggled with the workload and after the first quarter my grade a was big fat D, which is basically failing in college. Thankfully I had a really good professor who worked with me and helped me get my work done well. Having a college professor’s support also helped me make great improvements in my writing. He helped answer any questions and explained things very thoroughly. While it was only one class, it helped me a great amount in terms of being able to handle large work loads and tight deadlines. The class also prepared me for writing college essays. Overall, concurrent enrollment helped me transition from being a high school student to a college student and for that I am grateful.

While it was a great experience, and helped me out immensely, I do think some things could’ve been better. For example, I got into the class almost entirely by chance because I didn’t even know it was available for me. Concurrent enrollment always seemed like an option solely for the smartest kids who had money and access to a college campus. What I learned was that there were classes being offered right there in my own school. A lot of kids could benefit from taking these classes, but they need to be more informed about the options. All kids should get to experience what a college environment and schedule looks and feels like. They should know about how to get free credits out of the way so that the cost of college can be more affordable. Being informed also encourages kids to further their education. Because so many students don’t know about these classes, they can’t take them, and as a result, they’re missing out on a great opportunity.

There could also be more types of concurrent enrollment classes offered. While there are plenty of science, math and English classes, there are almost no social science, psychology, art or performing arts classes. Classes like these give students more choices to explore what they want to do and what they want to pursue as a career. It can also help those who may not even have a set idea of what they want to become because they get to explore things they may not have ever thought about.

Another challenge is the financial cost associated with taking concurrent enrollment classes. While many schools offer free college courses, students still have to pay hundreds of dollars for class books, and that can be a very heavy burden on a high school student who may not be able to work because of school and other after school activities. Again, while many schools offer to cover tuition, for many students it can be intimidating to know that if you struggle and fail a course, you’re responsible for paying for the course as well. Some students may fear that they won’t be smart enough to succeed and will be forced to pay hundreds of dollars in tuition.

Concurrent enrollment is great thing and really helped set me on the right track for my future. While the opportunities can be improved, I do believe that it is a step in the right direction to help kids further their education, which in turn, helps everyone.

Jorge Valdez graduated from Aurora Central High School and is currently studying to become a school counselor or therapist at the Community College of Aurora. He aspires to work help young men and women grow up to fulfill their potential. He is an intern with Young Aspiring Americans for Social and Political Activism (YAASPA) and a recipient of the YAASPA Community College of Aurora Foundation Aurora Gives Scholarship.


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