New research shows students who get a taste of college while still in high school are much more likely to continue their education and complete a degree.
Jobs For the Future, an education research nonprofit based in Boston, conducted an extensive study following 32,908 Texas high school students who graduated in 2004 for six years. Half the students had participated in dual-enrollment programs and half had not. The two groups were similar in terms of their academic and social backgrounds.
The organization found dual-enrollment students were:
• 2.2 times more likely to enroll in a Texas two- or four-year college;
• 2.0 times more likely to return for a second year of college; and
• 1.7 times more likely to complete a college degree.
Those findings held for all racial groups, as well as for students from low-income backgrounds.
While 54 percent of dual-enrollment high school graduates earned a college degree, just 37 percent of those in the control group did the same. Looking at bachelor’s degrees, the study found that 47 percent of those who took dual-enrollment courses completed a four-year degree compared with 30 percent of graduates who did not take part in such programs.
“The theory behind dual enrollment is that enabling high school students to experience real college coursework is one of the best ways to prepare them for college success,” according to the report, which was released last week.
The organization recommends that policymakers expand dual-enrollment programs as a way to enhance college readiness. It also says state policy should take steps to ensure that low-income and underrepresented students can take advantage of the courses by providing more preparation and support for these populations.
A version of this article appeared in the October 24, 2012 edition of Education Week as Report Links Dual Enrollment to Better Outcomes in College