Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

BUSD offers free college during high school

BONSALL – In early 2021, Bonsall Unified School District began forging the path to make Bonsall High School an Early College high school. Partnering with Palomar College, Bonsall High School administration, led by counselor Eryn Barker, started exploring mutually beneficial ways to expand student opportunities at the relatively new Bonsall High School.

An Early College program provides students with the opportunity to take college classes on a college campus while still in high school. Unlike dual enrollment, which is offered in abundance at other high schools, Early College allows for students to experience college as college students. High schoolers attend classes on the college campus with college students whereas Dual Enrollment programs take place on a high school campus with a college professor teaching in a high school classroom.

As part of the BUSD Equity Team, Barker has recruited and encouraged many students who might not have pictured themselves as "college" bound.

"For many of the students who have participated in Bonsall High School's Early College program, it is the first time anyone in their family has had a college experience. It instills confidence and the belief that they can attend and succeed in college," commented Barker, BUSD's Early College Counselor on Special Assignment.

"Early College helps close the equity gap by reducing barriers for our students where perhaps transportation, tuition, or cost of books may have been an obstacle to attending college," added Barker.

While BHS also offers dual enrollment and Advanced Placement classes, the Early College program (which is free to all students), provides opportunities for the students who want to challenge themselves by providing the highest level of rigor.

In the near future, BUSD's goal is to expand the Early College program to include a path for students to earn an Associate's Degree before high school graduation.

Currently, students are using the program to complete general education credits which transfer to the University of California and California State University programs. Since college admissions prioritize the amount of rigor a student takes on, the Early College program sets the Bonsall High School students up for being more competitive than non-Early College going students.

"It's just exploding! We have over a third of our high school population taking at least one Palomar class," said high school principal Daniel Smuts.

One new program that Barker is excited about is the "Associate Teacher" pathway. Palomar introduced the slate of classes centered on childcare and preschool programs in January but, due to a lack of enrollment, the college was on the verge of having to cancel the offering.

Barker partnered with the Fallbrook Education Center in association with Palomar College to extend this pathway to all Bonsall High School students. "We were able to enroll 15 students who are tremendously excited about this opportunity to start a career pathway in education."

Students reported that the program, which provides a certificate of achievement within the field of early education, appreciated that a job in early education opens up the possibility to be able to work while attending college. "It's a great way for students who need to supplement the costs of traditional college to work while being students."

In Early College classes, students earn credits toward certificate programs, AA degrees, rack up transferable units and have the chance to explore a vast array of electives. Bonsall offers free tuition and books. Early college is an opportunity for all students to discover new interests and explore potential vocations.

Bonsall High School's Early College program and Barker were recently the subject of a two part podcast, "The Future Starts With You," hosted by Jewyl Alderson of the San Diego County Department of Education's Innovation Division,

High school senior, Jeffrey Lee started taking classes his junior year and has nothing but good things to say about the experience, "I have been able to take really interesting classes and clear up high school requirements and earn transferable credits at a stupidly efficient rate. Participating in the Early College program has served me well while in high school and will continue to benefit me when I go on to college next year."

The podcast features best practices in the field of career readiness and also covered Bonsall High School's developing CTE program.

Submitted by Bonsall High School.


Reader Comments(0)