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The community college system is reminding high school students that they can have access to free online classes through the state’s community colleges this fall.

Students will be able to take the classes as part of the Career and College Promise dual enrollment program, according to a press release from the community college system. The free program allows high school students to be enrolled in community college and high school at the same time.

“The affordable path to a college degree starts in high school at our state’s 58 community colleges,” said Bill Carver, interim president of the North Carolina Community College System in a press release. “We are doing everything we can to serve all students during the pandemic, and that includes high school students who want to get a jump on a college education. School districts and community colleges are partners in this important effort.”

According to the release, 59,000 high school students took courses under Career and College Promise last year.

In March, all classes at K-12 schools around the state moved online as classrooms closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Community college courses, too, were mostly held online.

This fall will be no different for many districts and community colleges. Most of the courses available under the Career and College Promise program will be online, according to the release. But instructors may be more experienced in virtual learning than high school teachers as almost one-third of community college classes were already online before COVID-19, according to the press release.

“Career & College Promise provides students with the opportunity to earn college credit from highly qualified faculty in a flexible online environment,” said Kimberly Gold, senior vice president and chief academic officer of the NC Community College System in the press release. “Through CCP, students can further their educational goals in preparation for transfer to a four-year university or develop skills to enter the job market. As families are looking for options for education, CCP is one way to keep students moving forward toward their future careers.”

The press release says that students can find out more about the classes through school counselors or local community colleges.

Alex Granados

Alex Granados is senior reporter for EducationNC.