Casual enrollment linked with significant College advantage – Comment

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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, the education research nonprofit based in Boston, conducted an extensive study following 32,908 Texas high school students who graduated in 2004 for six year. Half participated in dual enrollment programs and half did not. The two groups had similar academic and social backgrounds.

The results are striking endorsement of the model. JFF 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.

These 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, 47 percent of those in dual enrollment completed at a four-year college compared to 30 percent of non-dual enrollment graduates.

“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 JFF report.

The organization recommends policymakers expand dual enrollment as a way to enhance college readiness and state policy should ensure low-income and underrepresented students can take advantage of the courses by providing more preparation and support for these populations.

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