College Classes for HS Students Growing in Popularity

Writing for The 74, Charlotte West reports on the growing popularity of college classes for high school students. With K-12 schools shuttered, COVID is fueling a dual-enrollment boom. Excerpts from the piece appear below:

Amber Bennett was 11 when she took her first class at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio. As a seventh-grader, she was eligible for College Credit Plus, a statewide dual enrollment program designed to increase access for low-income students, students who were the first in their families to attend college, and children of color.

“It was weird and cool at the same time, because people at college were so mature, and they’re all eager to learn,” Bennett says. “They were all kind of shocked to see an 11-year-old in the classroom. They didn’t baby me, but they would take me under their wing and make sure I was OK.”

Now 15, Bennett earned her associate of arts degree in May – before even starting 10th grade at Ohio Connections Academy, her online public high school. In the fall, she’ll pursue a bachelor’s in psychology at Notre Dame through College Plus.

Across the United States, the number of high school students, like Bennett, who participate in dual-enrollment programs has more than doubled over the past two decades. But as the coronavirus has shuttered K-12 schools nationwide, dual enrollment in summer classes has skyrocketed, and early signs point to a similar trend for the fall.

The number of students under 18 at public two-year colleges – used as a proxy to estimate dual-enrollment participation – grew almost 9 percent in spring 2020 over the same time last year, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Around three-quarters of the nearly 725,000 dual-enrollment students take classes at community colleges, the rest at four-year schools.

Individual colleges are anticipating that even more middle and high school students will sign up this fall.

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