It’s no secret that Santa Clarita has great schools. Our valley’s K-12 school districts rank among the highest in the state and it’s that reputation for quality that prompts many families to move to the Santa Clarita Valley. Parents want the best education possible for their children, and seek to provide them with every advantage they can in order to help them be successful in life. What’s not as well known about education in Santa Clarita, however, is a program that provides high school students with a distinct advantage. Offered by College of the Canyons, the College Now! program enables students in grades 11 and 12 to enroll at the college in credit classes while still attending high school, a process known as concurrent enrollment. The chief advantage for high school juniors and seniors is this: free tuition at College of the Canyons. That’s right. We waive the $46 per-unit enrollment fees for 11th and 12th graders who take classes at College of the Canyons. So, a three-unit class that would normally cost $138 is free. What’s more, those students are earning college credit, so they’re getting a jump-start on college by taking free classes that will transfer to a four-year university, providing them an opportunity to save even more money. Instead of paying hundreds, or even thousands of dollars, for a general education class at a university, students can take that class for free at College of the Canyons while they’re still in high school. College Now! enables students to enroll in any degree-applicable coursework offered at the Valencia campus, Canyon Country campus or online. Even better, College of the Canyons offers classes onsite at seven William S. Hart Union High School District high schools. Students can complete college courses at their high school without even leaving campus. The following classes, which will be taught by COC professors, will be available to College Now! students during the upcoming spring 2018 semester: – Administration of Justice (Bowman, Valencia) – Psychology 101 (Bowman, Golden Valley, Valencia) – Communications Studies 105 (Canyon, Golden Valley) – Sociology 101 (Canyon, Hart, West Ranch) – Early Childhood Education (Golden Valley) – Computer Networking 155 (Golden Valley) – Philosophy 101 (Saugus) – Health Science 249 (Valencia) As a parent, you might wonder if your high school student is ready for the rigors of college course work. The answer is yes. Since we launched College Now!, concurrently enrolled students have demonstrated a high level of competency completing college-level coursework. In fall 2016, concurrently enrolled students had an 87 percent success rate and a 95 percent retention rate. That means that 87 percent of high schoolers completed a college course with a grade of C or better, and 95 percent completed a course without withdrawing. Enrolling in a College Now! course is easy too, and registration is under way now for the spring 2018 semester. Students must submit a college application, complete an online orientation, and submit a College Now! form to the college’s Admissions & Records office. The spring 2018 semester will also give College Now! students access to free parking. Parking on both the Valencia and Canyon Country campuses will not require a parking permit or pass after 2 p.m. (student lots only), which will help students save money as they work toward their educational goals. In addition, many College of the Canyons courses are taught with Open Educational Resources (OER), teaching and learning materials released in the public domain or under an intellectual property license, which offer a low-cost alternative to expensive commercial textbooks. Now that you know the secret to giving your child a jump-start on college, take advantage and make the most of the opportunity! To begin the application process and obtain more information about the College Now! program, visit www.canyons.edu/CollegeNow, or call 661-362-5891. Dr. Dianne Van Hook serves as chancellor of College of the Canyons.