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North County School News

Early College in San Diego

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When you think about a minor attending college most think of the one in a million prodigies you hear about in the news. Some might think of a couple seniors in high school that are in AP/Honors classes who might take a summer course at a college. It seems to rarely occur, but is it happening a lot more than we think and most of us just don't know about it?

There are actually many colleges that allow students in 11th/12th grades to take a class at college with the approval of their parent, the high school principal, and the college. Some students will take a college course over the summer to lighten the load their senior year of high school. Then there are some HS students who will re-take a class at community college that they didn't pass the first time around. Some colleges partner with high schools and offer select college courses on the high school campus, while other colleges allow the high school to be based on the college campus.

Benefits of utilizing a community college for courses before high school graduation:

  • Dual enrollment is FREE(for 11 credits or less). You only pay for books, a health fee, and parking.

  • 1 semester course in community college gets you an entire year of high school course credit. Make sure you get approval from your high school counselor and confirm that credit will be accepted by them.

  • Depending on how many community college courses you take, you can graduate high school early.

  • Independent study charter/private homeschool students can get into a onsite class with other students. This could be great for lab sciences that they can't find elsewhere.

  • Attending college in high school makes it more likely to attend college after high school and graduate from college.

  • Young students(middle school) needing extreme advancement may find classmates in community college to be more mature and accepting than high school classmates.


Let’s look at the community colleges around San Diego County that offer enrollment to students not yet graduated from high school:

Central San Diego

San Diego Community College District includes 3 community colleges:

These community colleges require students to be in 11th or 12th grade.


East County

These community colleges require 11th or 12th grade and at least 14 years old.


South Bay

This community college allows 10th, 11th, or 12th grade students for dual enrollment.


North County

Mira Costa is located in Oceanside and Cardiff by the Sea and allows dual enrollment for 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students.

Palomar College has various locations to include San Marcos, Escondido, Rancho Bernardo, Fallbrook, Camp Pendleton, Pauma Valley, and Ramona. They are the most lenient of all the community colleges and have no age restrictions. If you have a middle schooler in need of college courses, this is the community college to consider. They've had students as young as 10 years old. A K-12 form is required and signature approval from student, parent, school principal, and professor for each course to be taken if the child is under 16. They also partner with all of the following high schools for dual enrollment. If you have a child younger than 16, you must enroll in classes in person at their San Marcos location.


Want some more options to consider? Here are some high schools that partner with community colleges:

  • Dimensions Collaborative Charter School - Escondido high school grades looking to partner with Palomar College and being housed on the college campus twice a week

  • East Village High School - downtown high school offers you the chance to earn a high school diploma and a year of college credit in just four years

  • Health Science High School and Middle College - Charter school - we have entered into a special partnership with Community Colleges that allows our students to take college courses for college credits. This provides our students with many more opportunities to take advanced coursework in health sciences. It also provides students the opportunity to take other courses that are of interest to them that are not typically available on the campus of other small (or large) high schools

  • Kearny High School - School of College Connections - Beginning sophomore year, students may enroll in one or two Mesa College courses taught on the Kearny campus. Beginning junior year, Fast Track students take one course a semester at Mesa College with a wide selection of choices. Since most students complete high graduation requirements in fall semester of their senior year, they can elect to attend Mesa College in the spring full-time.

  • San Diego Met High School - Located on the campus of San Diego Mesa College, they leverage their strong relationship with Mesa to provide students with unparalleled college access and preparation.

Do you know about more options? Message or comment and let us know


About the Author: Cherylyn Pasetto is an education consultant in San Diego County. She currently specializes in north county schools and spreads awareness of school options to parents. She believes in all types of education options and enjoys helping families find the right fit for each of their children. She also has a minor who attends community college part time.

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