Nine Graduate from Cerro Coso Before High School

Nine Graduation Caps floating in the air with clouds.

High school students across Cerro Coso's service area are enrolling in college credit classes and finding that graduating from college before graduating from high school is a very real possibility.

Nine high school students graduated with Associate Degrees from Cerro Coso this May, within weeks of graduating from their respective high school. Two students attended the college's Tehachapi Campus, another from the Online Program, and 7 from the Mammoth Lakes Campus. All the result of partnerships with service area high schools.

These nine students are way ahead of the curve. Earning their associate degrees will save these students tuition at a four-year university. 

Money wasn't the reason why Mammoth High School student Cesar Pina took dual/concurrent enrollment classes at Cerro Coso. He took them because it was an easier way for him to replace regular high school classes with classes that would satisfy both college and high school credits. “This is great because now I am a college sophomore technically,” he said. Pina is headed off to CSU Northridge in the fall. “These classes also helped me get a feel for the college workload early,” he said. 

Isla Lackey agrees, “taking Cerro Coso classes helped prepare me for university. I will attend UC San Diego this fall. By graduating high school with my associate's degree, I saved thousands of dollars taking classes for free. I genuinely feel more prepared because I took freshman English and math classes at Cerro Coso and performed well in them. I now know I can be successful at a four-year university.”

These graduates represent a growing trend of high school students graduating college before graduating high school. The early college program allows high school students to earn college credits before their high school diploma. 

Dual Enrollment means a student is both a high school and college student taking college courses on the high school campus during their high school day. The high school instructor teaching the college course meets the required minimum qualifications for teaching at the college level. While the dual enrollment course is taught at the high school, it is a college course with the same rigor, expectations, and outcomes as a college course.

Another option available to high students is concurrent enrollment, which means the student is both a high school and a college student. They take college courses at the local Cerro Coso campus or through the online program, in addition to their high school classes. Cerro Coso instructors teach these college courses.

The results of this popular program are that students are graduating with an associate's degree before they even graduate high school. 

“I would recommend other high school students take these classes. They are free and get you ahead as well,” concluded Pina. 

“Thank you for giving us this opportunity,” said Lackey. “It has truly made a big difference in my college path.”

“We are very proud of these exceptional students,” said Cerro Coso President Sean Hancock. “They have taken and completed college-level courses that give them a head start on college credits, save time and money, and prepares them for the demands of higher education. They inspire us all to create even more unique pathways to college degrees and credentials that give them a head start.”

For more information on Cerro Coso's Dual and Concurrent Enrollment Program, visit the college website at Interested individuals can also contact their local college or high school counseling department for available opportunities.