Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Preparing Students for Their Future: Dual Enrollment

Preparing Students for Their Future: Dual Enrollment in High Schools

Increasingly high school students are taking advantage of the opportunity to attend college courses while enrolled in high school.  This practice of dual enrollment offers a means for some students to get a head start on their college career.  Many times the school district will pay for the students’ tuition, if they pass their classes.  This has the potential to increase college attendance for many low income or minority students who are underrepresented on college campuses.  The question that remains is how effective are dual enrollment programs?

A recent study indicated that dual enrollment programs are working.  They found that dual enrolled students out performed traditionally enrolled students even in their second year of college (Crouse & Allen, 2014).  Furthermore, dual enrollment increases student enrollment in four-year programs.  The same study found that 58 percent of Iowa’s dual enrolled students attended a four-year college compared to 42 percent of all Iowa high school graduates (Crouse & Allen, 2014).  However, another study found that students who participate in dual enrollment in a four-year college were 200% more likely to earn a four-year degree than those beginning in a community college (Pretlow, 2014).  Dual enrollment increases student attendance and performance in college; however, the direction that students take after graduating high school is important to consider.

While dual enrollment helps students to perform better in their college classes, high schools can improve their dual enrollment programs.  Dual enrolled students are more likely to take introductory humanities courses than math, sciences or career related courses (Crouse & Allen, 2014; Khazem & Khazem, 2012).  Khazem and Khazem noted the importance of dual enrolled students receiving college level counseling that focuses students on academic-career paths.  Furthermore, they also point out that exposure to career track courses provides students access to labs and facilities not available in traditional high schools (Khazem & Khazem, 20012).  Providing students with the opportunity to learn more about the career path that they have decided upon can work to increase students’ motivation to continue on to college once they graduate from high school. 

Scheduling and transportation poses a potential barrier for many high schools when considering dual enrollment.  Enrollment through online courses helps with scheduling and can help address the transportation barrier that is common with minority students (Khazem & Khazem, 20012).  However, this does not provide students with the experience of attending school on a college campus with other college students.  For many students, the college experience plays a key role in building student efficacy.  Another option that also has similar drawbacks is having the college instructor teach the class on the high school campus.

While dual enrollment can play an important role in preparing high school students for college, high schools can adopt practices that will increase student success in college.  High schools can teach writing practices that focus on substantiating one’s claims, and providing proper citations; use syllabi modeled after ones used in college courses, and develop critical thinking skills to prepare students for college (Khazem & Khazem, 20012). 

Further Information

To learn about dual enrollment for you child, contact your child's high school.

http://www.wiche.edu/info/cacg/meetings/boulder13/white.pdf Provides an overview of dual enrollment in Colorado.


Crouse, J. D., & Allen, J. (2014). College Course Grades for Dual Enrollment Students. Community College Journal Of Research & Practice38(6), 494-511. doi:10.1080/10668926.2011.567168

Khazem, J. H., & Khazem, H. A. (2012). Dual enrollment: The way forward. International Journal Of Education Research7(2), 135-150.

Pretlow, J. (2014). Dual enrollment, community colleges, and baccalaureate degree attainment. Community College Journal Of Research & Practice38(2/3), 264-269. doi:10.1080/10668926.2014.851981