Sometimes resources hide in plain sight. With more than 700 public colleges and universities in California, access to higher education seems readily available. But, many students do not realize they can take college courses while still in high school. Every student in the Escondido Union High School District has the opportunity to take college-level classes, practically free. Whether a student wants to get ahead academically or learn something new, the opportunity is there.
“The deal we have with these places are really for anybody, but they can be very rigorous compared to classes here,” Counselor Freddy Delgado said.
Palomar College and California State University, San Marcos are the two institutions that this deal is available at, and it can benefit any kind of student. While both institutions are similar, Palomar offers a wider range of classes compared to CSUSM’s more academic courses. For example, Palomar offers more classes like American Sign Language and Astronomy while CSUSM offers classes like Economics and Calculus. Enrolling itself does take time, but the process is not very long for either institution.
For Palomar, making a student account on their website is the first step. Next comes the paperwork, which includes a K-12 form, a credit transfer form, a transcript request form and possibly a unit petition form. These can be received by any counselor and picked up at any Palomar campus. Students can review courses offered each term through the online catalog at www2.palomar.edu/pages/schedule/ or with a physical catalog picked up at any campus. Students are expected to monitor their accounts for more information, approval of classes, and finally attend classes once they begin. This does give the student themselves more responsibility, but it is not an unreasonable amount.
For CSUSM, the process is easier for the students because more responsibility is on the counselor helping out. First, a student needs to express that they are interested in taking a class and then they only work with the counselor from there. Students receive paperwork, return it and choose their classes with them at https://www.csusm.edu/schedule/index.html until the counselor passes on the paperwork to an EUHSD employee. From then, the employee takes care of the enrollment and any costs like tuition and books. The only cost the student needs to take care of is transportation, and the SPRINTER can help with that since there is a station in front of both campuses. With students only having to put in time and money for transportation, there are not many obstacles when it finally comes to attending the class for most people.
“Students should [take classes at these institutions] because it doesn’t take a whole year like it would here. They offer a lot more than just academics and colleges will be impressed if you’re going that path,” Norbert Bautista, 12, said. Bautista took a calculus course during the summer to get ahead in math.
While he did find difficulties with the course, he has expressed his satisfaction with what he learned and the type of environment he got to experience. He learned most of what would be taught in a calculus course here and he learned how to work in a college environment. Which is pretty different from in high school because there were students twice his age taking the same class and everyone is more serious because they are paying for the class instead. Which is what any students considering taking this opportunity should look forward to, that and their credits being transferred over.
There are certain limits on what can be transferred over though stated in the Unit Transfer Form received from the counselor. Both Palomar and CSUSM offer courses in the Fall and Spring semesters, as well as during the summer. More than one class can be taken at a time during a semester, but class structure varies. Some classes meet once a week, while others may meet two and three times. The length of class meetings also varies depending on how often they meet a week.
“Students who are college-bound should be taking classes like Calculus or Psychology, not only to give them a different class during the year but because they can count as college credits. Also, other students who don’t really want to go to college should take an Art or Italian Language class to just try something new,” Delgado said.