Concurrent enrollment was how I started college at 13 and graduated with my MBA at 20. Concurrent enrollment puts you on an accelerated academic path and is my number one recommendation. It is the fastest way to earn a college degree in the shortest amount of time for anyone going into high school or still in high school. I received my high school diploma at 16 and my AS in Business Administration at 17. I had an Associate degree before most students graduated from high school with their diplomas.
As the name suggests, concurrent enrollment is a program where students simultaneously enroll in two schools. Generally, it is high school and your local community college. As mentioned above, I started at 13, which was 8th grade. I took one beginning ceramics class to “test” the waters to see if I would enjoy college and to see if I felt comfortable on a college campus with adults. You can read about my academic story. However, in 9th grade, and until I graduated, I was concurrently enrolled in 8-11 credits each semester at my local community college in subjects like Math, English, Social Studies, Science, Humanities, and Physical Education. While there is no minimum credit requirement there is a maximum of 11 while you are concurrently enrolled. For full-time college students, 12 credits are a full load.
Earning Your High School Diploma and College Degree Sooner With Concurrent Enrollment
The classes which I took counted for both high school and college credits. This is greatly beneficial because I was earning my AS degree while in addition, the qualifying classes I took were worth triple the number of credits in high school. This is efficiency at its best and what we strive for here at Your College Sensei.
Earning double and triple the credits for high school was relatively easy and something most students can do. I will break it down and give you my personal experience and show you exactly how I did it. I went to school in California (here are the state requirements to graduate) so those are the requirements I will use. Obviously, each state has its own requirements, find them, learn them, and formulate an efficient plan to graduate.
As you can see from the chart a student needs 230 credits to graduate with their high school diploma in the state of California. Credits break down into 8 subjects. A few of these subjects, history, and science, have specific courses within the subject. Be mindful of these courses as they are non-negotiable. Though it doesn’t show on the chart, there is a math requirement, Algebra I. For California, this is a nonnegotiable math class required for graduation. Therefore, I will start with math as my first example.
Concurrent Enrollment Core Classes That Can Count For Both High School And College
I took an Intermediate Algebra math class at my community college, Butte Community College, which was 5 credits. The 5 credits counted triple toward my high school math, giving me 15 math credits for high school. At the time my high school required 20 credits in math to graduate (as of writing this it is now 30). I only had to take 5 more credits to meet my high school graduation requirements.
What took me one semester at the community college would have taken me a year and a half in high school. As I was taking Intermediate Algebra, I was also taking half of a semester of geometry at my high school. This geometry class met the remaining 5 credits. If I would have taken the full year of geometry it would have been 10 credits, which wasn’t necessary. I finished all my high school math requirements in the first half of 9th grade. I never had to take another math class at the high school level again and I hadn’t even finished my freshman year in high school. Of course, there would be other math classes. However, they would be at the college level for my AS and BS degrees. I wasn’t concerned with those just yet. There was time for them. My focus was on high school.
Social Studies Example:
I took US Government at my community college. This course was 3 credits. So, for high school, I earned 9 credits and met my US Government requirement for high school. Again, at community college Government only took me one semester. It would have taken me a year in high school—I cut the time in half. I also gained 6 additional credits which I could then apply to the electives area of my high school graduation requirements. I did this with all my classes, English, History, Physical Education, and Science. Each time I took a class the additional credits were used toward the 60 elective credits. I worked through these credits very quickly.
English was the only subject that wasn’t as impactful on my concurrent enrollment because English counted slightly differently. The credit conversion for English is a little more complicated, let me explain. The community college credits for English did not count for triple unfortunately not even double. Instead, a qualifying English class counts for one year of high school English. It was straight across exchange, I gained no additional credits. In high school, you need 40 English credits to graduate. That is one English class a year for your 4 years (10 credits for each class).
At my community college, there aren’t a lot of English classes you can take that will count toward high school. This is because once you reach college-level English, for me at my specific community college, this is Reading-Composition, after that most English classes are in areas of communication, theory, and critical thinking. These do not count for high school.
Classes that are below Reading-Composition are usually for those students who are English as a second language and the classes prepare them for college-level reading and comprehension. Therefore, if you are English first language you will most likely score in Reading-Composition/College Level English when you take your assessment test. That is what happened to me. I scored in Reading-Composition. Once I took this class it only counted for one of my 4 years of high school English. I had 3 years left and my concurrent enrollment couldn’t help me here. I had to get creative in order to graduate high school in only two and a half years.
In 9th grade, I took English in high school. In 10th grade, I took English at my community college (Reading-Composition) and English at my high school. This resulted in me having three years of English (30 credits). Let’s break this down a little more for clarity. 9th grade English was applied to my freshman year, 10th grade was applied to my sophomore year, and my English at the community college counted toward my junior year. I still needed to meet my 12th grade/ Senior year of English.
This is where planning comes into play. I knew it would be very hard to squeeze all my English requirements into only 2.5 years. My solution was to take one summer school class in high school, which I squeezed in the summer between 9th and 10th grade. It is important to note there was an English Poetry class that I could have taken at my community college that would have met my 12th-grade English. However, it would have only counted toward my high school and not my AS business degree. For me, summer school made the most sense. However, if you’re an English major perhaps an English class like poetry might count for both and that would be a more efficient route to take.
Be sure to read, Why College Students Should Take Summer Classes.
The Power Of Concurrent Enrollment Is Enormous
The academic efficiency concurrent enrollment created for me was staggering. Here is a printout of all the courses I took at my community college.
As you can see my total credits taken were 78. This number is very important, it warrants a closer look. At my community college, it takes 60 credits to earn my AS in Business Administration. Most AA/AS degrees are a minimum of 60 credits. Therefore, 60 credits were for my AS. So why did I have 18 extra credits, that doesn’t sound very efficient. As with all my degrees, this was purposefully planned and an intricate part of my academic plan. 8 of the 18 didn’t count toward my AS. These are basically the only wasted credits, but for me, they really weren’t wasted.
The 8 credits were only 2 classes, the first class is Beginning Ceramics (3 credits). Remember, this was my very first college class and it was meant to get “my feet wet”. I took this in eighth grade when I was 13yrs. The second class is Intermediate Algebra (5 credits). I was placed in this class when I took my assessment test. You can take your assessment placement tests twice. I took it once and am certain I would have been able to test out of Intermediate Algebra. However, I was 14 and in 9th grade and I didn’t mind taking the class as it counted for high school credit. To me, it was also very important to ensure that my math foundation was strong. I errored on the side of caution by not taking a higher class where I might struggle to keep up.
Know Your Colleges Transfer Credits
All the state colleges I was considering accepted exactly 70 transfer credits that I could put toward earning my bachelor’s degree. I wanted to take the maximum number of credits that I could at my community college because it is substantially cheaper. Out of 78 credits, only 8 (2 classes) were not applied to my AS and BA and only 3 (1 class) were not applied to my high school. This is the type of efficiency that a student needs to graduate in a timely manner and without student debt.
Having said that, once I got into the class, I learned very quickly that it was much easier than I had anticipated and I probably should have placed into the class above, which would then count toward both my AS and BS. If we minus the 8 credits, we now have 10. These 10 credits were strategically planned too. I knew I was most likely going to transfer to a state college.
Graduate Early And/Or Earn College Credits
When done right, the efficiency of concurrent enrollment is tremendous. Students who complete concurrent enrollment classes usually take fewer classes in high school and college; this saves a lot of time as well as money. Some of the classes I took counted for high school as well as General Education (Gen Ed) requirements for my college degree.
If you live in California, be sure to check out Assist.org. This website is a valuable resource that helps students when they transfer. I was constantly checking to see if my community college classes would transfer to my business major at university.