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  • An image of three colored arrows and a wall. One arrow turns back from the wall, one crashes through it, and one goes over it.

    Breaking Dual Enrollment Barriers

    By Donald Walker

    In Part I of this blog, I talked about my own dual enrollment journey, and how it helped set me on a path towards my doctorate. I also discussed different dual enrollment delivery models, as well as benefits and barriers. How can barriers be broken? Here is one example from my work with CAST (creator of the Universal Design for Learning framework and guidelines).

    BioFab USA: A CTE Dual Enrollment Case Study

    In 2018, an emerging local industry for biofabrication in New Hampshire identified a need for skilled technical workers in this advanced manufacturing field. They were getting applicants with bachelor's and master's degrees, but they lacked the necessary technical skills. How could this be addressed from the ground up?

    Identify the opportunity

    Though New Hampshire high schools offered STEM-oriented courses, the most relevant classes were often full. However, on-campus at community colleges, there were biotechnology classes that were never full. High school students needed to be made aware of career opportunities in the biofabrication industry and the ability to take these introductory biotechnology courses (and other intro courses in this career path) through dual enrollment at their local community college.

    In a National Science Foundation funded project, the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute (ARMI) partnered with CAST, who in turn collaborated with several area career and technical education high schools, community colleges, and industry partners to create a career awareness program promoting biofabrication as a desirable career path. The project resulted in the creation of a website, BioFab USA, used to increase awareness of the biofabrication industry and encourage recruitment into dual enrollment courses that are a part of the pathway to that career.

    Using UDL to identify and remove barriers

    To inform creation of the website using CAST’s universal design (UDL) guidelines, high school students were asked anonymously what barriers kept them from enrolling in dual enrollment programs and what kind of information they needed to make their college and career decisions. Students mentioned some of the barriers to dual enrollment they were experiencing included parents needing to be more supportive, not understanding what the requirements were, feeling like they might not be successful, and whether there was a cost involved.

    At the same time, when these students were asked what motivated and excited them about potential careers, they responded with their needing a sense of accomplishment, their desire to make the world a better place, and loving new things. This is important because it speaks to their potential engagement, but the opportunity for this level of engagement is only possible if we can get them into the dual enrollment courses of their choice, connecting them to their potential career. In the case of biofabrication, this is where the BioFab USA website comes in.

    Since New Hampshire students can't register for dual enrollment classes until the 10th grade, BioFab USA focused on training 9th-grade teachers in both CTE and non-CTE courses (like biology and automotive) on how to use the site to talk about dual enrollment opportunities available to students that could put them on a path toward a future career in biofabrication. Results from this case study on dual enrollment course taking, completion, and progression onto a biofabrication career path are not yet available, as the program is ongoing, but we anticipate findings within the next two years. For more details, please see BioFab USA: A Dual Enrollment Case Study.

    Dual enrollment can be life changing

    We do our students a disservice when we don't take the time and opportunity to connect them to things that excite them, engage them, and point them in the direction of their future. Dual enrollment does just that. It did it for me, and I believe it can be done for any student.

    Learn more about Pearson’s dual enrollment solutions


  • A photograph of feet in sneakers with the words "your journey starts here"

    Dual Enrollment Can Be Life Changing

    By Donald Walker

    My own professional journey

    Who knew nine dual enrollment credits would one day lead me on a path to becoming a mid-career doctoral student? My dual enrollment story began unknowingly in high school, with my school’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) program connecting me to a trade school that had an articulation agreement with my local university. With this, college became an option for me if I chose it. After graduating high school, trying college at 18, and failing miserably, I decided to attend that same trade school introduced to me in high school. I completed trade school wonderfully and went into a career in radio.

    After a while, I began to have thoughts of going back and trying college again. One of the critical factors in my decision to go back to college and what college to go to was the articulation agreement my trade school had with our local university. My 8-month program in trade school post-high school and my dual enrollment credits earned while still in high school equaled nine credits at the university. This meant slightly shortened time spent as an undergraduate and financial savings, as I would not have to pay for three classes.

    Enrolling in that local university allowed me to complete my bachelor's degree. And later, I completed my master's to maintain pace with job requirements. Now, I am in the second year of my doctoral program, and it all started with an articulation agreement between the university and the trade school I took dual enrollment classes in while in high school.

    When you have the chance to earn college credit while taking another program, whether it's in high school or trade school, you are opening the door to:

    • Another level of opportunity
    • Affordability
    • Career direction
    • Greater immediacy to start an engaging career and a lifetime of achievement and growth

    What is Dual Enrollment?

    So, what is dual enrollment? Dual enrollment is earning college credit while simultaneously earning high school credit (or in my case, trade school credit).

    What are the benefits of Dual Enrollment?

    The benefits of dual enrollment are simple:

    • Earning college credit early.
    • Financial savings for classes you will not have to take once you get to college.
    • Potentially earning credentials and certifications earlier leading to a jumpstart on a career
    • Increased likelihood of going on to post-secondary programs and completing those post-secondary programs1(which was my case!)

    Everybody benefits from dual enrollment, but male students, students with disabilities, and students from low socioeconomic backgrounds may benefit the most.2

    How does Dual Enrollment work?

    There are several delivery models:

    1. College credit-bearing coursework delivered by a college-approved high school teacher on the high school campus.
    2. College credit-bearing coursework delivered by the college instructor on the high school campus.
    3. College credit-bearing coursework offered at the college campus, which means students must travel.

    And there's “early college” or “college in the high school”, where high school students may earn both a high school diploma and an associate degree. They tend to combine high school and college coursework in a single curriculum. Students may stay in high school a little longer, usually an extra year. Still, when they graduate, they've got the high school diploma and their associate degree, which again, leads to tremendous financial and time savings.

    This is wonderful but…

    If dual enrollment is so great, why aren't more students taking advantage of it?

    ...There may be barriers

    First, there is a cost that needs to be covered by the local high school, state, or directly by students/parents for incorporating dual enrollment programs. Students may be afraid or insecure that they will not do well because of the college-level work involved.

    If dual enrollment classes are held on the college campus, transportation, and a lack of support at home can be a problem.

    Dual enrollment courses may be weighted differently than Advanced Placement on high school transcripts.

    Scheduling can be problematic, as dual enrollment courses can conflict with other required core curriculum classes.

    The high school may offer dual enrollment courses that students are not interested in. Stereotyping and implicit bias can also impact students enrolling in dual enrollment programs.

    For example, you have a dual enrollment course for welding, but because it's traditionally a male-oriented field, you do not actively and intentionally recruit females into the program.

    But barriers are made to be overcome...

    Stay tuned for Part II of this dual enrollment story, which will include a barrier breaking case study from New Hampshire’s BioFab USA.

    Learn more about Pearson’s dual enrollment solutions