Accelerated Pathways: Dual Enrollment

By Becky Smerdon and Aimee Evan (guest authors)

There are a number of paths that high school students can follow to earn college credits while in high school. This week, we are going to highlight three of these accelerated pathways: (1) Advanced Placement, (2) Dual Enrollment, and (3) International Baccalaureate. Today’s post is about the Dual Enrollment program.

Dual enrollment is a program whereby students simultaneously earn high school as well as college credit for a particular course. Like Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB), dual enrollment programs often enroll students who have typically performed well in school and expose students to college level material. Unlike AP and IB, however, dual enrollment courses are college courses rather than courses intended to be taken by high school students with college-level content.

Dual enrollment courses may also provide high school students an authentic college experience. The most recent national data (2002-03) indicate that among institutions offering a dual enrollment program, eighty percent offered classes on a college campus.  Public 2-year institutions tended to offer courses at the high school, while public and private 4-year institutions tended to offer courses on their campuses.

Another distinguishing feature of dual enrollment is that high school students enrolled in dual enrollment courses earn college credit upon completion of the course. For AP and IB students, postsecondary credit is given at the discretion of colleges and received by students only after they have been accepted to a college. According to the Department of Education, college credits earned in dual enrollment programs reduce the length of time it takes to earn a college degree by almost half a year.[1]

Guest Authors:  Becky Smerdon is founder and Managing Director at Quill Research Associates, LLC and a member of the National High School Center’s Editorial Team. Aimee Evan is a Senior Research Associate Quill Research Associates, LLC.


Note: This blog post was originally authored under the auspices of the National High School Center at the American Institutes for Research (AIR). The National High School Center’s blog, High School Matters, which ran until March 2013, provided an objective perspective on the latest research, issues, and events that affected high school improvement. The CCRS Center plans to continue relevant work originally developed under the National High School Center grant. National High School Center blog posts that pertain to CCRS Center issues are included on this website as a resource to our stakeholders.

[1] Adelman, C. (2006). The toolbox revisited: Paths to degree completion from high school through college.  Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.

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