When life gets in the way of finishing school, starting over begins with something as simple as getting a library card.
That is what Cristian Jauregui did when he learned about the Colusa County Career Online High School, a pilot program that offers adults an opportunity to get their high school diploma online, advance their career, or enter the workforce.
“Getting my high school diploma was something I wanted to do for my kids, and as a personal achievement,” said Jauregui, the county’s first graduate of the program.
Career Online High School is an accredited online diploma and career certification program available through the Colusa County Free Library that offers, through a scholarship, free enrolment to a limited number of adults, depending on available funding, said Literacy Coordinator Alissa Morrow.
Although students have 21 months to complete their online high school requirements, Jauregui, 34, completed the course in just three months, graduating with a 3.87 grade point average.
“I had a lot of help from my family,” he said.
Jauregui attended Williams High School, but left his junior year without graduating. Although he is married and has a good job at Olam Processing and a bee business he operates with his brother Alex, Jauregui said he wanted his diploma to set an example to his children and others that it is more important than ever to finish high school.
“It means there are more opportunities for the future,” Jauregui said. “We’re getting to the point now where most jobs require a high school diploma.”
Because demand for the free program is high, adults wanting to enroll must take an online self-assessment and pass a prerequisite course and an in-person interview to be selected for the program.
“After this occurs, we receive their results from the COHS administrators, and provide the potential scholarship recipient with information on how to log into the COHS course website,” Morrow said. “Here, they will log on and choose their prerequisite career path. Paths range from general career training to retail to homeland security, and so much more.”
Morrow said each potential scholarship recipient has three weeks to complete their first prerequisite, which consists of 14 lessons, each taking about an hour to complete.
“Applicants can complete as many lessons in a day as they want, whenever they want, as the COHS site is open 24/7,” she said.
After the third week, Morrow or Library Director Stacey Zwald Costello will interview the applicant to see if they are qualified to take the program.
If selected for the scholarship, the student can transfer the high school credits they earned previously and take the online courses to finish their degree.
Jauregui said he was nervous at first getting use to doing fractions again and using proper punctuation, but he found himself logging on to do his coursework whenever he could.
“Once I got my rhythm, I didn’t’ want to stop,” he said. “I’m proud of myself and for making my wife and kids proud of me. It’s a family achievement.”
Colusa County’s Career Online High School currently has two students completing their high school education, and has six scholarships still available for anyone who is 19 years of age or older, a Colusa County resident, has access to email and able to check it regularly, and has a Colusa County library card.
Applicants can contact Morrow or Library Director Stacey Zwald Costello at Colusa’s main branch, at 738 Market St. or by calling 458-0373 for more information.
For those that want to get their high school diploma and then continue on to college, 160 fully accredited colleges and universities accept high school diplomas earned through COHS, including Butte College, Yuba Community College, and American River College.
“Each scholarship recipient will receive this list of schools upon acceptance, should a college degree be a goal for them,” Morrow said. “In addition, the career certificates looks great on resumes for potential employers, as each student has received career training in their specified field.” ■