Dual enrollment

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In the United States, dual enrollment (DE) programs allow students to be enrolled in two separate, academically related institutions. Generally, it refers to high school students taking college or university courses. Less commonly, it may refer to any individual who is participating in two related programs.


Students enrolled in secondary school may be simultaneously enrolled at a local institution of higher learning, such as a community college or university.[1] 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.[2] 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. A 2011 study concluded that student experience differs dramatically from one program to the next.[3]

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.[4] 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,[5] 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 graduation requirements for District of Columbia Public Schools.


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 post-secondary education as a result of their participation in dual enrollment.

In addition, not all high school teachers who have taught dual enrollment college courses are adequately qualified to teach college courses. In 2015, the Higher Learning Commission in the United States took steps to fix that problem by requiring high school dual enrollment teachers hold a master's degree in the subject they teach.[6]

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.

From a financial stand point, in the United States some aspects grant funding to both the high school and colleges per student. It can be hard, unless explicitly states by law, to determine which institution should receive the funding. There have been cases in the past where both institutions claimed the state funds leading to the state paying for the student twice.[7]

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.

In college[edit]

Colleges may create partnerships with schools that allow high school students to enroll in college classes or programs. Most universities have some degree of interdepartmental dual enrollment coordination. Arizona State University, for example, partnered with a group of Phoenix, Arizona charter schools called ASU Preparatory Academy. The partnerships grants students the ability to enroll in one of ASU's online Global Freshman Academy courses as either independent study electives or while taking a similar higher level high school course.[8]

High schools might also have a partnerships with a group of colleges, such as Five Colleges (Massachusetts), Seven Sisters (Northeast), or Five Colleges of Ohio. That allows 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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mcconnaha, Michelle (2016-12-24). "Early college dual enrollment offers students a head start". Ravalli Republic. Retrieved 2016-12-28. 
  2. ^ Hughes, K. L. (2010). "Dual Enrollment: Postsecondary/Secondary Partnerships to Prepare Students". Journal of College Science Teaching. 39 (6). 
  3. ^ Edwards, Linsey; Hughes, Katherine; Weisberg, Alan (2011). Different Approaches to Dual Enrollment: Understanding Program Features and Their Implications. Insight. James Irvine Foundation. 
  4. ^ Dare, Lynn; Nowicki, Elizabeth (2015-10-01). "Conceptualizing Concurrent Enrollment Why High-Achieving Students Go For It". Gifted Child Quarterly. 59 (4): 249–264. ISSN 0016-9862. doi:10.1177/0016986215597749. 
  5. ^ Edwards, L.; Hughes, K. L. & Weisberg, A. (2011). "Different Approaches to Dual Enrollment: Understanding Program Features and Their Implications". 
  6. ^ Smith, Ashley (2015-10-20). "Questioning Teaching Qualifications". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved 2016-12-28. 
  7. ^ Hiesterman, Matthew (2013). "High School Students Attending College: A Study Of The Dual Enrollment Program And Its Impact On The Postsecondary Institution Of Brevard Community College": 24 – via University of Central Florida Libraries. 
  8. ^ "ASU Prep Goes the Extra Mile". Retrieved 2016-12-28.