Get Ahead With Free College!

Did you know that Thompson School District offers “free college” to high school students?

The formal name of the district’s free college program is Concurrent Enrollment. Follow along to learn more about this great opportunity offered to high school students.20170527_Graduation LHS_1_WEB

What is Concurrent Enrollment?

Concurrent enrollment gives students the opportunity to graduate from high school with college credits and accelerate their progress toward earning advanced degrees and the working world.

Thompson School District pays for the cost of tuition for a maximum of two college classes per semester per student. The parent/student is responsible for the fee(s) and book(s) associated with the course(s). Students in grades 9-12 are eligible. However, we strongly recommend that participating students are in grades 10-12. Some colleges may have an age requirement. Each of the programs is initiated by speaking with the student’s counselor and they also involve an application process.

TSD has concurrent enrollment agreements with a handful of colleges. Students can take college courses that fit into their ICAP at Front Range Community College (FRCC) and Aims Community College. There are other opportunities for college credit to be awarded with limited class options at the University of Colorado-Denver, Colorado Christian University, University of Colorado-Colorado Springs for a specific program called “Project Lead the Way” which specifies in Engineering and Metropolitan State University for the Pro Start program, which specifies in Catering.

There are three ways to earn concurrent enrollment credit:

  1. Career Pathways/Career Academy
  2. High School Select
  3. Campus Select

Let’s talk about Career Pathways and Career Academy!

Career Pathways is a year-long career and technical education program through FRCC. All students earn high school credit and have the option to earn college credit. The tuition is covered by Thompson School District and the parent/student is responsible for associated course fees. Most of the programs are held on the FRCC Larimer Campus in Fort Collins or at the CLC (Thompson School District Admin Building). Classes are held every day – students are placed in the morning from 8:00-10:00am or in the afternoon from 12:30-2:30pm. Transportation is provided to all locations. In-depth, hands-on learning is offered with a cohort of students. Many offer internships, FRCC certificates and/or industry credentials. All students in the Career Pathways Program must take the Accuplacer exam. The programs offered at Front Range Community College are:

  • Animal Technology Automotive Technology and Service
  • Criminal Justice Careers Exploration Culinary Arts
  • Medical Careers Exploration Welding and Metal Fabrication
  • Wildlife, Forestry and Natural Resources

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Career Academy is a year-long career and technical education program through Aims Community College. All students earn high school credit and have the option to earn college credit. The tuition is covered by Thompson School District and the parent/student is responsible for associated course fees. All programs are held at the Aims-Loveland Campus. Classes are held every day.  However, transportation is not provided for this specific program. The programs offered at Aims are:

  • Animation: 9:10am-11:00am M/T/W/TH
  • Graphic Design: 12:45pm-2:35pm M/T/W/TH

Let’s roll on over to discuss the High School Select program…

This program is one of the best options to earn college credit without even leaving the high school campus. It consists of college-level classes taught at the high school by an approved high school teacher or college professor. It offers a convenient location with familiar students and instructors. Tuition is paid for by TSD and the parent/student is responsible for course fee(s) and book(s). In High School Select, TSD offers the courses solely based on enrollment numbers. Students should talk with their high school counselors about what course offerings may be available at their high school. Classes are taught at the college level and students are expected to meet all college-level requirements. The requirements are: to speak with your counselor, fill out an application, recognize prerequisites and appropriate test placement scores. An Accuplacer assessment is needed if the student does not have ACT scores.

Last but not least, our last option for concurrent enrollment is the Campus Select program.

This program is great for the student who is able to drive to the college campus and have the option to take more classes than what is offered at their high school. It includes any course taken at the college level on the college campus. Students will apply to the college and register for classes like a college student. It is recommended to sign up for Guaranteed Transfer (GT) courses in order to ensure that the credit will transfer to most colleges and universities in the state of Colorado. Classes must fit and work within the student’s high school schedule and graduation requirements take precedence. Students must meet all prerequisites and understand that they will be in a college class with other college students. Classes are taught at the college level; most classes will require 6-9 hours of work at home per week. College professors will not know that the student is in high school unless the student tells them. Students may be required to work with classmates outside of class time.

Now that you have read about the concurrent enrollment programs, would you like to know how a student gets enrolled?

First, the student needs to talk to their counselor about taking concurrent enrollment classes and which program they are interested in. Second, students need to update their ICAP (Individual Career and Academic Plan) and Plan of Study on Naviance to reflect that they want to take a concurrent enrollment class. Counselors can assist with this step. TSD will not pay for the course unless it is in their ICAP and Plan of Study.

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For Career Pathways and Career Academy, the student will apply at the beginning of the spring semester for the following school year. Typically during course registration, there are only a certain number of slots for each program.

For the High School Select program, the student will apply at the beginning of the spring semester for the following school year.

Please be aware that students who fail or withdraw will be responsible for repaying tuition costs back to the school district.

For the Campus Select program, students may register for the class(s) they want to take once the college course catalog is released, which is typically 3-4 months prior to the start of the semester.

The final step for the concurrent enrollment program is for the student to see their counselor for the appropriate paperwork. Apply to the appropriate school via online application or paper application. Complete the concurrent enrollment form, take the Accuplacer test if necessary and attach the score or attach the qualifying ACT scores. Return the paperwork to the student’s counselor. Check back later for confirmation of enrollment. If the student is taking a Campus Select class, you must check your college e-mail account regularly, as this is how the school will communicate with you. If you miss a deadline for payment of fees, you will be dropped from the course. Also, when taking Campus Select courses, you will have a few extra steps to do with a new student checklist that will be provided to you. This checklist involves speaking with a college advisor and attending a new student orientation.

What will this look like on my high school transcript?

All 100 level and above college classes will be weighted like AP classes. Example: ENG 121, PSY 101, COM 115.

Career Pathways classes have their own unique credit amount and the grade will be weighted.

High School Select classes will be .5 high school credits and have a weighted grade. Students typically earn 3 college credits.

Campus Select classes will vary from .17-1.0 high school credits, all depending on the number of college credits earned for the course. If it is a 100 level course and above, it will be a weighted grade.

Toward the end of the student’s senior year, when the decision has been made about what college/university they will be attending, the student will need to transfer their earned college credits to that school. They will need to request official transcript(s) from the colleges where the concurrent enrollment credit was earned and have them sent to the college/university they will be attending.

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Advantages of participating in the concurrent enrollment program:

  • Free tuition
  • Good transition to college
  • Earn credits toward your college degree
  • Gain confidence in your ability to succeed in college
  • Campus Select students are fully integrated at FRCC

Cautions to know for participating in the concurrent enrollment program:

  • 6-9 hours of homework per week
  • Transcripts are permanent
  • Poor grades can affect scholarships and financial aid

Please feel free to reach out to your student’s counselor or our College and Career Department for further information.

  • Tyler Schlagel, College and Career Coordinator
    • Phone: 970-613-5098
    • Email:
  • Afton Valerio, College and Career Assistant
    • Phone: 970-613-7575
    • Email:


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