As high school students at Santa Clarita Christian School (SCCS) complete courses required for graduation, they also now have the ability to gain college credit from two accredited Christian universities.
Last year, SCCS began partnering with both The Master’s University (TMU) and Colorado Christian University to offer its students dual credit and dual enrollment options in both online and classroom settings.
“We have four that are taught on our campus by our faculty and then we have the four online options that students can do at their own time,” SCCS Director of Academics Lynn Kistler said. “The online ones are all through TMU and the ones that are done on campus are all done through Colorado Christian.”
The credits transfer to most colleges, including the University of California sand California State University system, and allow students to complete more than a year’s worth of college credits while completing high school.
“They really do like the thought of taking a college course,” Kistler said. “I think they feel like it prepares them for what’s ahead.”
Out of the high school’s nearly 200 students, about 50 to 70 students take advantage of the dual enrollment and dual credit options each year, according to Kistler. The programs are especially popular among junior and senior students.
Last year, SCCS graduate Payton Schwesinger completed 55 college credits through the school’s various offerings, which allowed her to enter UCLA as a second semester sophomore.
“UCLA waived 55 credits… She is now doing upper-level, major classes because she was able to get so much done before she graduated,” Kistler said. “That allowed her to save about $24,000 in tuition.”
College Credit Options
SCCS’s dual-enrollment and dual-credit options give students the freedom to determine how they would like to take college courses.
The more rigorous option is the dual enrollment program, which requires students to be a junior or senior standing before they complete the 16-week classes.
“Developmentally, it doesn’t work for any students that are younger than 11th grade,” Kistler said. “It’s a lot of work, it’s not at all dumbed down for high school students. It’s a college course and the universities put that rule in place for students.”
To be eligible to participate in the TMU program, students must complete a college application identical to those required of college students. This enrollment process will also allow students to be accepted as a TMU students after graduation.
Through both options, students receive honors credit for completing each course and receive a college transcript upon graduation.
SCCS’s dual-credit program allows high school students of all grade levels to take college-approved classes at taught by SCCS teachers. Through this option, students attend a year-long SCCS class that includes a course syllabus and curriculum set up by colleges.
These courses include Public Communications, Physics and British Literature through Colorado Christian University and Macro Economics and Introduction to Philosophy through TMU.
This spring, students also have the option to earn dual credit at TMU through an English Composition course taught by SCCS teacher Janelle Sonnenburg.
“In the past, SCCS instituted a College Writing course as part of the curriculum, something every senior was required to take,” Sonnenburg said. “This class benefited the students as they left for college; however, the new English Composition course is an improved writing class since our seniors can choose to receive college credit while also fulfilling the SCCS requirement.”
The English Composition course teaches students academic writing, research and critical thinking, and will provide them with three college credits.
In the future, SCCS plans to expand its dual enrollment and dual credit programs through TMU to provide students with general education courses that can be taken in the classroom and online.
“Our plan is to allow our students to have time to do the online ones on campus here. We’re going to a 1:1 iPad program next year… so it will be even easier to offer that to students,” Kistler said.
Eventually, SCCS plans to only partner with TMU because it is located in Santa Clarita and because teachers can interact with students face-to-face.
“The other reason we choose to partner with TMU with the classes we’ve chosen is because there’s academic rigor and we feel like what they’re learning is really valuable to us,” Kistler said. “We try to be purposeful with those classes that they’re choosing so they leave high school ready for college. It gives them that college and career readiness, and it adds to the foundation we are trying to build for them.”
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