High School Students at Palomar College
An independent learning program offered through various high schools allows students to complete high school and college courses simultaneously while receiving both high school and college credit.
Two Palomar College students who also attend Escondido Charter High School reveal how the independent study program operates, how it has benefited them as students, and how it will continue to benefit their education.
Lily Ching and Blair Vanwagnor both participate in this independent learning program that allows them to take college level courses on Palomar campus while still attending high school.
Vanwagnor and Ching are both immersed in the program and are satisfied so far with how it operates. “I like it [the independent study program] a lot better than regular school,” Vanwagnor said.
“This program has given me a sense of what I want to do later in life,” Ching added.
Vanwagnor said that prior to entering such programs, students are to be tested to judge their proficiency level in English and mathematics. This allows administrators to judge whether a student is qualified and able to handle the program.
Once a student passes the proficiency test, they discuss their plan with a counselor. A student may choose different routes to complete the necessary requirements, but they can also choose to go beyond the high school requirements and begin working on their college courses.
These students finish courses at their own pace through assigned packets. The amount of packets vary between courses. Currently, Vanwagnor is taking English 11, which includes 13 packets. You can finish the packets at your own pace, taking on multiple packets a week. A student works independently, and when completed, students meet with an educator once a week to review and grade their packets.
Vanwagnor explained how flexible this program can be and that some students can graduate early if they choose. “I’m not graduating early though,” Vanwagnor said. “I’m planning to stay and take college courses here at Palomar so I can get a head start on my general education requirements.”
High school students who plan to take college courses at Palomar must have approval from their district official, Palomar College admission supervisor Ralph Baker explained. Parental consent is required as well.
Students submit the forms to the Palomar College Admissions Office to receive an appointment date for registration. However, students involved in the independent study program do not receive priority registration and receive later appointment dates.
Aside from getting an early start on general ed, Ching said she does not have to pay for the college courses taken at Palomar College. “I only have to pay for the books,” Ching said.
Vanwagnor agreed. “It’s a lot nicer and saves me a lot of money.”
Ching added that there is another way the program has benefited her as an individual
“This program has made me more independent and more willing to do things on my own,” Ching said. “I do not feel like I constantly need reassurance from my parents and teachers.”
Ching said that when taking college courses while still of high school age, students tend to take on more of a responsibility. “I think it’s good to take on responsibility at a younger age because it helps you grow,” Ching said.