November 30, 2022
Faith Serna said it was hard to picture herself going far from home for college before she took college courses at her high school, Wonderful College Prep Academy, a charter school in Delano. Now that she is in the home stretch of graduating from high school with an associate degree, she has her sights set on attending college at the University of California or a private college.
“Now I’m not scared to enter college,” she said. “It’s made me more comfortable.”
For many who live in the area served by the Kern Community College District, college can feel far away — and it is. The district sprawls over a region larger than West Virginia that encompasses the San Joaquin Valley, the eastern Sierra and the Mojave Desert. It is served by just one public university, Cal State Bakersfield. High school seniors in this district are less likely to attend college than most in the state.
“We are not a college-going county,” said Kylie Campbell, the director of dual enrollment programs for the college district.
Enrolling high school students in college courses encourages all students to see themselves as “college material,” she said. The district targeted dual enrollment courses in rural communities where students were less likely to be college bound.
That’s why the Kern Community College District has one of the state’s most extensive and fastest-growing dual enrollment programs. There were 8,086 dually enrolled high school students in fall 2021, making it the second in size only to the Los Angeles Community College District.