Dive Brief:

  • The Bridge to College program in California’s Hayward Unified School District holds orientation sessions every semester to introduce middle school students and their families to the early college option, in which instructors from Chabot College teach 7th and 8th graders subjects like business, engineering, music, humanities and early childhood development, District Administration reports.
  • The orientation is an open house designed to show families the classes are college courses in which participants earn credit, though they are taught at the district’s schools. It also builds communication between students and college professors as an additional layer of support.
  • The recruitment efforts may be the reason the program, which accepts students with a B average or higher, continues to increase enrollment. Last semester, it had a waitlist for one of its middle school classes, and an extra class was created at a high school.

Dive Insight:

As recent studies by the American Institutes for Research​ on the Early College High Schools dual-enrollment program indicate, these types of opportunities can have long-lasting, positive impacts on post-secondary enrollment.

Early College High Schools students had an 84% college attendance rate within six years, compared to 77% of students who didn’t participate. While that model cost about $3,800 more per student than a traditional high school, lifetime earnings per student are estimated at about $33,709 more than those who don’t participate in the program.

Data suggests that in California, Latinx, African American and socioeconomically disadvantaged students were less likely to take dual-enrollment courses. Previous research also finds inequity within dual enrollment, but students who take college courses in high school are more likely to earn a bachelor’s degree and have a higher first-year GPA than students who don’t. Dual enrollment is also a boon to two-year community colleges, which have seen an enrollment decline.

A report from Education Reform Now and the Alliance for Excellent Education asserts high school juniors should have more dual-enrollment opportunities, Advanced Placement (AP) course options or be allowed to skip senior year as pathways to college. When developing these pathways, states also need to consider equity issues, since fewer minority students take AP classes. Opening more options could make navigating that pathway easier for many students.

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