By Joanne Montgomery
Citrus College Governing Board Member
Kayla Griffiths is currently a freshman at Monrovia High School. As with most freshmen across the state, Kayla enjoys spending time with friends, learning about new subjects and staying active on campus. One of the things that makes Kayla unique, however, is that she is already earning credit toward her college degree while still in high school.
How is this possible?
Kayla participates in the highly successful Early College program, a partnership between Citrus College and the Monrovia Unified School District (MUSD). Designed to provide high school students with an opportunity to enroll in transferable college courses, Early College allows eligible students to earn college credit during their zero and first periods. Participating students are taught by Citrus College faculty at their home high school. These students not only get a “taste” of college, they also get a jump on their college career. According to Kayla, “I have been college bound since elementary school and this program is helping me get ahead.”
In fact, Early College has been so instrumental in advancing students, that Assemblymember Chris Holden (AD-41) spearheaded Assembly Bill 288. This legislation authorized California community college districts to enter into formal agreements with local school districts to provide dual enrollment opportunities. Since 2016, what began as a special collaboration between Citrus College and MUSD has developed into so much more.
The program has now expanded into a customized four-year dual enrollment program that allows students to earn up to 45 units of transferable credit between ninth and 12th grade. Students also receive tutoring and study period support that improves their cognitive, behavioral and emotional engagement. By the time students graduate from high school, they are mere classes away from obtaining an associate degree. This provides students with college credit at community colleges, four-year colleges and universities. High school students who take college-level courses enjoy high acceptance rates at California colleges and universities. In the end, they can graduate with their bachelor’s degree almost two years early.
As you can imagine, the dual enrollment program has financially benefited scores of families. Mia Streeter, a 10th grader at Monrovia High School, put it best: “Early College will save my family a ton of money. I have learned to manage my time more wisely. It is actually easier than I thought.” One of the benefits of Early College is that high school students are not charged any tuition or fees for these college courses.
A recent report compiled by Dr. Eric Rabitoy, dean of natural, physical and health sciences at Citrus College, and Dr. Catherine Real, director of counseling, college and careers at MUSD, found that high school students perform just as well, if not better than college-age students in many of the courses they complete.
As success stories continue to pour in, Early College at MUSD will undoubtedly expand to provide more opportunities for our younger students. The hard work conducted by Dr. Rabitoy, Dr. Real, and others at Citrus College and MUSD has set an example throughout the state, and our team frequently travels to various school districts to help guide them in establishing their own dual enrollment programs.
As Monrovia’s representative on the Citrus Community College District Board of Trustees, I am especially proud of the relationship that Citrus College has maintained with MUSD. Because of this long-standing partnership, Early College has allowed our students and their families to save an incredible amount of time and money. I am confident that the new Early College pathway will continue to impact and influence the lives of our students.