Beginning in fall 2023, Durango High School will offer collegiate pathway classes that allow students to gain up to 48 college credits before they graduate.
The collegiate pathway is for junior and senior students who are interested in gaining guaranteed transfer credits from Fort Lewis College.
The pathway is intended for a range of students, including those seeking a collegiate opportunity while still in high school and those who may think college is out of reach.
Students must show performance in their freshman and sophomore classes and have test scores that potentially indicate success in a college-level course.
Durango School District 9-R Executive Director of Curriculum Dylan Connell said the district is still working on an application process for the courses.
“We want to make sure that students and their families are aware of the demands of the courses and also the opportunities that they have,” Connell said.
The collegiate pathway will have core class offerings in math, science, social sciences and English. The classes will be comparable to general education classes that are often taken within the first two years of attending college.
Students will be earning both high school and college credit for taking courses in the collegiate pathway and receiving credits for both transcripts.
Because the courses are guaranteed transfer credits, this means the credits earned from the classes can be used at other universities outside of Fort Lewis College.
A student who takes four classes each semester during their junior and senior years can earn up to 48 college credit hours before graduating from high school, which is the equivalent to about three semesters of college credit.
Students will take either two or four core classes, depending on their four-year plan.
The district’s main goal is to alleviate some of the financial burden that comes with attending a four-year college. Because the district is covering the cost of the courses, students who choose to take the classes are likely not to pay for a full four years of school.
9-R Superintendent Karen Cheser said the district does not have a final total on what the courses will cost but estimates the total will be around $120,000.
“Colorado does not allow school districts to charge students for concurrent enrollment, so we will be paying the tuition,” Cheser said.
With guaranteed transfer credits, students may not have to take such rigorous course loads once they attend college because they will have already earned many of their prerequisites in high school.
“We've seen all of the reports on federal student loan, and how big that cliff can be for students as they're looking at colleges,” Connell said. “So if we can create an opportunity where students are getting a high caliber education from our local college, while doubling down on their credits at DHS, there’s benefit to that.”
Courses will be taught by Fort Lewis College professors and students will follow a college schedule by taking either Tuesday/Thursday classes, and/or Wednesday/Friday classes.
During the other half of the day, students will be able to take other career pathway courses, or participate in internship opportunities.
All of the collegiate pathway courses for the 2023-24 school year will be taught on the DHS campus.
“They're getting a rigorous experience that's helping them hopefully have relevance for what's beyond high school,” Connell said.