Our View: Concurrent enrollment opens doors | SteamboatToday.com

Our View: Concurrent enrollment opens doors

— By June 4, more than 200 Routt County high school seniors will have collected their diplomas, turned their tassels and effectively brought an end to an exciting and influential chapter of their lives. Hearty congratulations to each of the graduates, as well as to the teachers, coaches, parents and other mentors who helped guide them along the way.

In the midst of all the local graduation success stories, two stand out as poignant examples of what can be achieved by teens in our community through hard work and, importantly, cooperation between school districts and higher education institutions including Colorado Mountain College.

Last weekend, Hayden High School senior Brian Hoza joined 37 of his fellow students during graduation ceremonies in the school's gymnasium. It was the second diploma Hoza, the class valedictorian, received this month.

On May 7, he participated in graduation ceremonies at CMC, where he earned an associate's degree in general studies.

Soroco High School senior Alex Smith will graduate this weekend. Like Hoza, she already has earned her associate's degree. Smith did so by taking 60 hours of classes through Colorado Northwestern Community College's Rangely campus.

While both Smith and Hoza represent just two of a growing number of Routt County high school students earning college credits concurrently with high school credits, they're the only two to also earn their associate's degrees this year. The payoff will be significant.

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Hoza, who is scheduled to enroll at Cornell University in New York this fall, will be able to skip many of the university's prerequisite classes and jump right into the meatier classes he wants to take in pursuit of an engineering degree. He also emphasized the value of learning time management and other skills while taking college-level courses as a high school student.

With the cost of college educations continuing to skyrocket in Colorado and across the country, it's increasingly important that K-12 school districts recognize the significance of collaboration with colleges. Such collaboration was clarified and eased through the passage of the Concurrent Enrollment Programs Act in May 2009 by the state Legislature.

As such, the Soroco and Hayden school districts allowed Smith and Hoza to use many of the credit hours they earned at CNCC and CMC to replace high school courses. The same can be done at Steamboat Springs High School. That sort of flexibility represents the progressive approach public schools ought to take to help students obtain their higher education goals without incurring the significant debt often associated with four years of schooling at traditional colleges and universities.

Brian Hoza and Alex Smith have demonstrated what can be accomplished through collaboration and hard work. We look forward to seeing more Routt County high school graduates follow suit.

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