Dual enrollment—in which high school students take college courses for credit—was once considered the exclusive province of college-bound high school students seeking more challenging classes. However, a new study from the Community College Research Center that I authored has found that dual enrollment can offer tangible benefits for students who are historically underrepresented in higher education.
The three-year study looked at eight career-focused dual enrollment programs across California and found that participating students demonstrated improved performance on a range of high school and college outcomes. Sixty percent of participants were students of color, forty percent came from non-English speaking homes, and at least one third had parents with no prior college experience.
The programs were created through partnerships between community colleges and local high schools. While they varied in structure and course offerings, all gave students in high school career-technical programs the opportunity to take college classes, and provided additional academic and non-academic supports. The programs were funded primarily with a grant from The James Irvine Foundation.
Our study analyzed outcomes of approximately 3,000 dual enrollment students through spring, 2011, and found that the dual enrollment students were more likely to graduate from high school, enroll in four-year colleges, and persist in college than similar students who did not participate. Participating students also accumulated more college credits than non-participants, and this effect grew over time. (Read more.)