Parents, want to save money? Check out dual enrollment for your high schooler

By Marisa Perez
Trustee, Cerritos Community College District

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

My son finishes ninth grade at Mayfair High School in Lakewood this June. He is also going to finish six units at Cerritos College through a program called dual enrollment.  The six college units count towards both his high school and college diplomas. My son has already started developing the study skills needed to succeed in college.

And the best part – my family may save up to $26,000 in college tuition if he continues down this path.

Many students from ABC, Bellflower, Downey, Norwalk-La Mirada, Paramount, and other local K-12 school districts have taken advantage of dual enrollment. Students have taken college classes at their high school or have enrolled in classes after school, on weekends, and during summers. Some are taking virtual college classes during the pandemic. Some have even finished two years of courses. Many of these students are the first in their families to go to college.

Research shows that dual enrollment has many benefits for high school students. High school students who complete college classes have a greater chance of enrolling and staying in college. It also reduces the time to earn a bachelor’s degree. Students who might not otherwise go to college have found success in taking dual enrollment courses.  

The number of high school students taking college classes has increased in recent years. But we still have a long way to go to convince students and parents that dual enrollment is better than the College Board AP classes. Consider the following: parents pay $95 for each AP test their child takes. Students must get a three or higher on the test and there is no guarantee that their future college will accept this credit.  

The most common AP test taken in May 2020 was English Language and Composition. Only 62% of students taking the test scored a three or higher, according to the College Board.  For AP classes, if a student doesn’t pass the AP test, they don’t get the college credit. A dual enrollment student who passes a college class with a C or higher earns college credit. Dual enrollment may also be a better option for students who suffer from test anxiety because credit does not come down to one test. Nine months of hard work can be thrown away with one poor exam score.

Parents should take a closer look at the many dual enrollment programs offered at their high school and Cerritos College. Our faculty provide students with classwork as challenging as those offered by AP programs. Through state legislation, Cerritos College has increased agreements with K-12 districts and has dual enrollment classes in subjects such as African American History, Auto Maintenance and Operation, and History of Rock Music (classes will resume at high school campuses when in-person school begins).  My son is currently enrolled in an online class. He works at his own pace and completes assignments online. 

Earlier this month, Cerritos College started its Early College program for incoming ninth graders at three local high schools. After four years, students can earn up to 46 units that transfer to the University of California (UC) and Cal State University (CSU) systems. They will be classes away from getting an associate degree at the age of 18. Cerritos College waives the tuition and fees, and each K-12 district pays for the textbooks. Parents pay nothing.  

In addition, Cerritos College will begin accepting applications for the President’s Scholars Academy for current 10thgraders in our local K-12 districts. Students earn a minimum of 24 college credits, including eight units of science and four units of English.  These classes also count for the UC/CSU systems. 

There are many opportunities for parents to give their children a running start to an affordable college education. You can start by contacting your student’s high school counselor. Parents can find more details by visiting the Cerritos College Educational Partnerships website at

Marisa Perez is a member of the Cerritos College Board of Trustees.  She is a parent of three students in the Bellflower Unified School District.

The above article was originally published by The Downey Patriot