4-year degree takes 5 years

It takes 5.1 academic years for the average four-year graduate to complete a degree, reports the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Those who earned a two-year degree were enrolled for 3.3 academic years.

It’s common to switch between full-time and part-time enrollment and to transfer between multiple institutions.

Students who’d participated in dual enrollment programs in high school moved more quickly to a degree, the study found.  The advantage was greatest for students pursuing an associate degree, who gained “a full semester of enrolled time.”

Time to Degree for Bachelor’s Degree Earners


‘Dual’ grads find credits won’t transfer

Dual-enrollment programs are soaring in popularity, writes Catherine Gewertz in Education Week. Students hope earning college credits in high school will save them time and money in college. But some are discovering their colleges won’t accept dual-enrollment credits.

Are dual-enrollment students headed for disappointment?

Are dual-enrollment students headed for disappointment?

While in high school in Dallas, Sabrina Villanueva earned 12 credits at a local community college by taking speech, government, psychology and sociology. The credits counted toward her high school diploma — but the University of Rochester rejected them all. That ended her plans to minor in psychology or sociology while majoring in engineering.

“Dual enrollment is like the Wild West,” Davis Jenkins, a senior research associate at the Community College Research Center, told Gewertz. “No one seems to know what credits students are earning and whether those credits are applicable toward any sort of degree.”

Only half the states have agreements that require public colleges and universities to accept dual-enrollment credits, according to the Education Commission of the States, and those agreements don’t require the compliance of private institutions.

More than 11 percent of high school students take dual-enrollment courses. Under a new federal pilot program, low-income students can “use Pell grants to cover costs at 44 institutions,” writes Gewertz.

Community college students also have trouble transferring credits to four-year institutions. Some states now require public universities to work with community colleges to agree on which courses are rigorous enough to generate transfer credits.

Many colleges and universities won’t award credit for a grade of 3 (supposedly a C equivalent) on an Advanced Placement exam; some give no credit for a 4 (B) or 5 (A).

Colleges should be required to accept AP credits, argues the Progressive Policy Institute.  However, Nat Malkus is dubious about the idea.

‘Dual’ students will get federal aid

Some low- and moderate-income high school students who take “dual enrollment” college courses will be eligible for federal college aid,  U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced in Memphis last week, reports the Commercial Appeal.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (center) talks with student Shimera Paxton, 13, (right) during chess class at Douglass K-8 School. Credit: Brandon Dill, Commercial Appeal

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan talks with Shimera Paxton, 13, during chess class at a Memphis school. Credit: Brandon Dill, Commercial Appeal

The experimental program will offer Pell aid to cover college tuition for 10,000 students.

Dual enrollment courses are expanding rapidly nationwide. Some states or school districts cover high school students’ college tuition and textbook costs, but others do not.

Pell Grants, which now cost more than $30 billion a year, should be require college readiness, argues Isabel Sawhill, a Brookings researcher.

Targeting college aid to those most likely to succeed should start with counseling in 9th grade or earlier on the courses, grades and test results needed to do well in college. Students who “achieved a basic level of proficiency” would receive more generous support than the current Pell maximum. Low performers would not get college aid, but could receive “support for other training or education programs.”

Linking Pell to readiness misses students who need help most, responds Sara Goldrick-Rab.

‘Early college’ boosts persistence

Dual-enrollment programs — college classes for high school students — are helping disadvantaged students get to and through college, reports Emily Deruy in National Journal.

Early-college graduates are less likely to need remedial classes and more likely to make it to their second year of college, according to a Rennie Center report.

Earning college credits and getting a taste of college expectations is especially valuable for students at schools that offer few Advanced Placement courses, the report noted.

“Early-college programs improve students’ overall grit and persistence, but also help them become knowledgeable about the overall [college] system,” Chad d’Entremont, executive director of the center, told Next America.

Early-college classes, often taught by community college professors, include academic and career courses. At Murdock High in Massachusetts, seniors can take technical classes at Mount Wachusett Community College that lead to a credential in information technology.

Why college in high school mash-ups don’t work

The bipartisan “Go to High School, Go to College Act” would allow Pell Grants to fund college coursework for low-income high school students.

Karen Cordero, an earth science teacher at Bolton High School in Connecticut, leads her class in a simulated county planning meeting. (Photo: Peter Morenus/UConn)

Earth sciences teacher Karen Cordero teaches a college class  in environmental science at Bolton High in Connecticut. (Photo: Peter Morenus/UConn)

“High school-college mashups” — college work in a high school environment — don’t work, argues Georgi Boorman in The Federalist.

As an 11th- and 12th-grader, she attended community college, then finished a bachelor’s degree in two years. She supports letting college-ready students take real college courses taught by professors with college-age (and older) classmates.

But most high school students lack the academic skills and the maturity to handle classes on a college campus, she writes. These days, high schools are placing unprepared students in classes with a college label.

Given that more than a third of all freshmen entering universities have to take at least one remedial class, why should we trust high schools to provide college when they can’t provide sufficient instruction at the high-school level?

Many more students — including average and sometimes below-average achievers — are being urged to take Advanced Placement and dual-enrollment courses. At some low-performing schools, few AP students take the AP exam and even fewer pass.

Often dual-enrollment courses are taught at the high school, not on a college campus, because it so convenient. Sometimes, a “real professor” comes to the high school, but it’s easier to hire a high school teacher as an “adjunct.” Are these “real college” courses?

‘I saw college as a foreign country’

Karina Madrigal “thought college would be too challenging,” perhaps “impossible.” Her parents, Mexican immigrants, hadn’t made it past middle school. “I saw college as a foreign country.” But then, as a high school student, she took a community college class, earning dual enrollment credits — and a new perspective. It was her first step to a PhD.

What works in career-tech ed

In Updating Career and Technical Education For The 21st Century, the Lexington Institute looks at the most effective models.

Career Path High, a blended learning model in Kaysville, Utah offering personalized instruction with externships and onsite CTE training.

Providence, Rhode Island’s Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center, through partnership with The Big Picture Company, is a national leader at tracking post-graduation outcomes and utilizing comprehensive data.

Pathways in Technology Early College High School in Brooklyn offers a 9th-14th grade high school/associate’s degree program aiming students toward post-graduation job opportunities with starting salaries at $40,000.

The new career-tech models try to keep the door open to college, often giving students the chance to earn community college credits that can be applied to an associate degree or, eventually, to a bachelor’s.

Honors programs cut college costs

Dual enrollment, AP classes and community college honors programs can curb college costs and raise graduation rates, writes Chris Romer, co-founder of American Honors.

Sixty percent of students seeking a bachelor’s degree reach their goal in eight years; 38 percent seeking an associate degree graduate in four years.

Completion rates are higher for ‘dual’ students

College completion rates are higher for former “dual enrollment” students who took college-level courses in high school, according to a new report. But that could reflect selection bias.

Overall, six-year completion rates ranged from 40 percent for those who started at community colleges, 63 percent who started at public universities and 73 percent for students who started at four-year private nonprofit institutions. At two-year for-profit colleges, which focus on job training, 62 percent completed a credential.

Community college students are getting younger

Community colleges are attracting more “traditional-age” students. And, thanks to dual enrollment of high school students, more community college students are under the age of 18.