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In education, dual enrollment (DE) involves students being enrolled in two separate, academically related institutions. Generally, it refers to high school students taking college courses. Less commonly, it may refer to any individual who is participating in two related programs.
Students enrolled in secondary school may be dual enrolled at a local institution of higher learning, such as a community college or university. If students pass their college classes, they receive credit that may be applied toward their high school diploma and toward a college degree or certificate. Many state governments within the United States have recognized the benefit of dual enrollment and have consequently instructed their public universities to begin collaborating with local schools. Some private universities also participate.
Dual enrollment can be advantageous to students because it allows them to get a head start on their college careers. In some cases, the student may even be able to attain an Associate of Arts or equivalent degree shortly before or after their high school graduation. Furthermore, participation in dual enrollment may ease the transition from high school to college by giving students a sense of what college academics are like. In addition, dual enrollment may be a cost-efficient way for students to accumulate college credits because courses are often paid for and taken through the local high school.
A number of different models for dual enrollment programs exist, one of which is concurrent enrollment. Concurrent enrollment is defined as credit hours earned when a high school student is taking a college course for both high school and college credit, during the high school day, on the high school campus, taught by a qualified high school instructor. One of the first concurrent enrollment programs was Syracuse University Project Advance. In the George Washington Early College Program (GWECP-AA), students at the School Without Walls Senior High School are enrolled at The George Washington University and take a full course-load at the university, along with other undergraduate students. These college courses are used to fulfill the students' high school requirements for the DC Public School System.
Critics of dual enrollment have expressed concern that high school students who are inadequately prepared for college-level courses may be deterred from pursuing a postsecondary education as a result of their participation in dual enrollment. In addition, high schools may find it difficult to ensure that their teachers are adequately qualified to teach college courses. Further, some college course content may not be deemed appropriate for high school students, be amended, and therefore not reflect the complete curriculum as intended or required. Debate continues, as educational policy experts watch how DE cohorts perform after high school graduation in terms of degree completion and persistence rates, especially minority students.
Colleges may create partnerships that allow their students to take courses at all of the member universities. These leagues, such as Five Colleges (Massachusetts), Seven Sisters (Northeast), or Five Colleges of Ohio, allow students to benefit from the collective knowledge of all universities and prevent them from duplicating unnecessary course offerings at each institution. Most universities have some degree of interdepartmental dual enrollment coordination. Many dual enrollment students have a heavy course load, but in turn, have the opportunity to graduate early.
- Hughes, K. L. (2010). "Dual Enrollment: Postsecondary/Secondary Partnerships to Prepare Students". Journal of College Science Teaching 39 (6).
- Edwards, L., Hughes, K. L., & Weisberg, A. (2011). "Different Approaches to Dual Enrollment: Understanding Program Features and Their Implications".