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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

1/5 of community college students are still in high school

Community colleges are drawing fewer students who are 18 to 24 years old -- and a lot more who are earning "dual enrollment" credits while still in high school, writes Hechinger's Jill Barshay.


There may be 2 million dual enrollees, nearly double the number taking at least one Advanced Placement exam.


Photo: Javier Trueba/Unsplash

The rise is "meteoric," says Brian An, a University of Iowa sociologist. Nearly 20 percent of community college students nationwide -- 38 percent in Iowa -- are dual enrollees still in high school. At 31 community colleges, the majority of students are in high school.


Students see dual enrollment as easier than AP because they can earn college credit by passing the course, says An. Earning AP credit requires doing well on an exam.


"Community colleges oversee roughly 70 percent of dual enrollments with four-year colleges running the remaining 30 percent," writes Barshay. "In most cases, high schoolers never step foot on a college campus; the class is taught in a high school classroom by a high school teacher."


The quality of the courses is uneven, says John Fink of the Community College Research Center at Teachers College, Columbia. However, overall, dual enrollees go farther in school than similar students who took only high school-level courses.


Community colleges lost a lot of enrollment from traditional students during the pandemic, and haven't seen much of a rebound due to the strong job market.

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9 Comments


Guest
Aug 03, 2023

My 3 homeschooled kids attended community college at HS age. All 3 attended the local college campus and were taught by college instructors. Except once. One of my 3, one class, inadvertently got himself into one class intended for the local High Schoolers. A) The number of kids in class was much larger than his other classes. B) The kids were poorly behaved during lectures and asked "dumb questions". C) (perhaps consequent to B) The class did not get through the entire syllabus by semesters end. D) The rubric for course grades was changed for the final exam to make the test count for more than essay assignments or class "quiz" results. This class provided the onl…

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Guest
Aug 03, 2023

We know some high schoolers who are taking dual enrollment at their high school. I know a lot of homeschoolers, many of whom dual enroll most of their senior year. I know one public high schooler who earned an associates before graduating, and several homeschoolers who will have done dual enrollment for at least part of their coureswork for 2 years before finishing high school. It seems to vary by school, with some high schools in our county using more AP and others doing more DE. My senior has found that the combination of the 2 can be powerful.

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Bruce Smith
Bruce Smith
Aug 05, 2023
Replying to

Your child (and you) shouldn't worry about high school GPA, since schools have so many different ways of calculating that, and universities will often just take applicants' transcripts and recalculate the GPAs according to their own formulae; on the other hand, the choice of higher education institution ought not to be taken lightly, since universities differ greatly in their abilities to attract recruiters from companies looking to hire new graduates, and the institutional reputations will also affect the ability to land good internships.

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Guest
Aug 03, 2023

I think the most important part of the article is this: "In most cases, high schoolers never step foot on a college campus; the class is taught in a high school classroom by a high school teacher."


There are other programs where the high school student shows up at the college (2 year or 4 year) and takes classes offered from the general catalog. I find it interesting that the two approaches seem to be treated the same.

(a) College class offered by the college to college students and taught be a college instructor, or

(b) College class offered by the high school to high school students and taught by a high school instructor.


I would love to know how…


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Guest
Aug 03, 2023
Replying to

the answer to b varies by provider. The colleges and universities my district contracts with do not teach DE on the high school honors level. Except for math, the DE courses are for those who need more than Regents level, but less than AP. AP is taught to the 2 level here, with the expectation that capable students self-study the units not covered in class. DE Math is SUNY, common final, and the high school teacher also teaches a night section at the college for SUNY students. Here Calc 1 is offered as either one high school semester or two. Most parents here decline to pay for AP and DE and just take high school credit.


In my state, AP…


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mrmillermathteacher
mrmillermathteacher
Aug 02, 2023

Like any other course, a dual enrollment course is as good as the instructor and the curriculum. They can be very good, very rigorous, very well-taught, or they can be crap. One thing I like about them, though, is that students can get college credits without having to pay $100 to the "not for profit" College Board.

(full disclosure: I've been, and will again be, a high school teacher who oversees a dual enrollment statistics class)

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Guest
Aug 02, 2023

Indiana is at 39% dual enrollment, but a lot of those kids are earning career certifications and start working as things like CNAs with good wages before graduation -- they then use those careers to finance further education and certifications! So, I think it's ultimately a good thing - CC is often taught at a high school level, why not prepare kids to enter the workforce at 18?

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