The Kern High School District is expanding early college pathways with Bakersfield College

Teresa Balmori Perez, Reporter

The Kern High School District has partnered with Bakersfield College to allow high school students to earn their associate’s degree during their 4 years of high school. 

“The idea for early college existed at BC since 2013,” according to Kylie Campbell, the Director of Early College at BC. “Sonya Christian wanted to launch a program for high school students to have college-level classes on their campus and to get college credit,” Campbell stated.

According to Campbell, they first launched the program through charter schools and at Wasco High School. In recent years, they wanted to extend the program through more high schools. “We started with McFarland High School and that was in 2019. In 2020 the idea for the KHSD came from the pandemic limiting summer school opportunities,” Campbell said. “It was the right time for BC to partner with KHSD and create this opportunity for students.”

The program is open to all grade levels in high school. However, according to Campbell, “9th graders have the opportunity to get the entire associate degree if they stay in the program for 4 years.” Campbell also explained that BC will be accepting 200 to 250 students. They will be accepting 35 incoming freshmen students for each of the 5 pathways. They will also be accepting upper-grade levels to fill open seats in the program.

Instead of students choosing courses, BC will give students the chance to choose from different pathways. According to Campbell, the pathways that they have at the moment are public health, phycology, industrial animation, administration of justice, and intro to health careers. For the intro to health careers pathways, Campbell explained that students will have the chance to take all of the introductory courses from the different health science programs.

There are lots of benefits to completing an associate degree early. Campbell described that it puts students on the fast track towards their bachelor’s degree and they can complete their degree in 2-3 years instead of 4. “They are also more prepared when they transfer to college. They are more set for what they want to do for their degree and career because they had  some opportunity to explore.”

In addition to the different benefits that BC will provide, according to Campbell, BC will also pay for their tuition and the KHSD will provide for their books.

The program was very successful last semester, Campbell said. “ 91% of the students who finished the classes got a C or higher,” she stated. However, she did explain that BC did lose more students due to everything being online. Despite the challenges, the number of students who stayed in the class and enrolled again in the spring was 81%.

As for the future, BC hopes to create more pathways, keep building more opportunities, and reaching more students through their academics. “The overall vision of early college through the whole county, not just KHSD, is to allow every high school student to complete at least 9 units,” Campbell stated.