Kathleen Lopez, Principal

Heritage Academy Gateway Campus

Diplomas and Degrees

32 of 84 seniors at Heritage Academy plan to graduate with an Associate Degree this spring by the time they earn their high school diploma.


Queen Creek, AZ – April 19, 2021 – Nearly half of Heritage Academy’s graduating seniors will soon find themselves not only with their high school diploma, but also with an Associate Degree from Rio Salado College. Thirty-five of the Gateway campus’ eighty-three seniors have worked tirelessly over their 4 years in high school to earn their Associates through the school’s prestigious dual enrollment program. This program gives students the opportunity to further their education by starting college classes in high school. This is a popular program among students, with 38% of this year’s graduating class receiving college degrees, compared to the national average which is only 11%. Sixteen-year-old Jacob Pieczynski, who is graduating with his Associate Degree in last May, shared, “It is a fantastic opportunity for students. The school has a great relationship with Rio Salado College that made it really easy to take courses. The credits transferred easily and the program was cheap. I’m so glad I was able to be part of it!” Over the past 9 years of this particular partnership, this dual-enrollment program has helped students of all backgrounds further their education, save years of their life, as well as saving a lot of money. 


Even for the students not receiving an Associate Degree, the dual-enrollment program offered by Heritage Academy is matched by few other schools. The program gives students the opportunity to earn college credits at a far lower cost while taking their normal high school courses. The program gives students an affordable option to earn college credits. For example, it costs $85 per credit hour through Rio Salado, compared to a minimum of $561 per credit hour at Arizona State University Online. From this, we estimate that students at just this one Heritage campus are saving a combined $571,135 this current semester (303 total students taking a total of 1109 credits).


Graduating concurrently with an Associate’s Degree is a difficult feat and significant accomplishment for any student to complete. Senior Alyssa Fears shares the benefits of the program for her, saying, “I think the concurrent enrollment is a great program for high school students to get ahead in their college education. I saved money and time participating in the dual-enrollment classes. I love the smaller class size for the classes I was getting college credit for. My teachers were very supportive and available to help when I needed it.”