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Education Innovation
The Promise of Dual-Enrollment

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on an encouraging trend in American higher education: A growing number of students are earning vocational credits at local community colleges while they are still in high school.

Nick Niehus is a senior at Iowa City West High School, but he’s already got a head start on college. Every afternoon, after he is done with his classes, he heads to Kirkwood Community College’s new regional center, where he takes college courses alongside other high-school students from the area. When he graduates he’ll have 16 credits in advanced manufacturing under his belt, which he’ll apply toward an associate degree at Kirkwood.

By his own admission, Mr. Niehus is an average student, and that’s exactly what the Kirkwood Regional Center at the University of Iowa is aiming for. Once tailored toward high achievers, dual enrollment, in which high-school students can earn school and college credit simultaneously, is expanding outward, aimed at students in the academic middle. […]

Across the nation, dual enrollment — also called concurrent or joint enrollment — is growing in popularity. Its appeal taps into widespread concerns about college costs as well as academic and career readiness.

More of this, please. We’ve said it before: The idea that thirteen years of traditional K-12 education plus four years of progress toward an expensive liberal arts BA is the only path to career success in America should be questioned more frequently. High schools should offer more opportunities for vocational education; private companies should experiment with coding academy-style training programs; there should be more opportunities for students to earn college credit early so they don’t need to pay for the full four years.

And policymakers interested in making education work better for the middle and working class should look for ways to promote this kind of innovation.

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  • Eurydice

    My niece spent her senior year of high school at a community college. She gathered enough credits (not vocational, but actual course credits) so that she was able to graduate from university almost a year early, and saved a lot of money, too.

  • FriendlyGoat

    Absolutely the best deal going whether one is pursuing a 4-year degree or vocational training. What is proven by this, by the way, is that the final two years of high school may otherwise be sort of a nothing sandwich.

  • Old Gunny

    More of this please? We have put in place a system where high school students can get college credits and high school graduates can attend college to get remedial training in math and English. Yeah, we have really solved the education problem.

  • ვეფხისტყაოსანი

    Our eldest was homeschooled from 9th grade on. She received her first associate’s degree and a high-school diploma at 17, her second associate’s at 18, and her bachelor’s at 20. She saved time, and the family saved tens of thousands of dollars.

    So, yes, it’s a good deal — but only if the student is ambitious and disciplined. But community-college students tend to self-select, since they’re (mainly) paying for their education with their own money, so the classroom environment is much more conducive to learning.

    The best way to ruin this is to make community college free.

  • f1b0nacc1

    A minor quibble, but why are we doing vocational education through community colleges?

    • ვეფხისტყაოსანი

      Because vocational education in high school is associated with tracking, and no properly enlightened person wants tracking.

      • f1b0nacc1

        All the more reason to do it….grin….

        • ვეფხისტყაოსანი

          You, sir, are not properly enlightened.

          Shall we start a club?

          • f1b0nacc1

            Marx (Groucho, not that fool Karl) said it best, “I wouldn’t join any club that would have me as a member”…

            With that said, I am proud to be associated with you!

  • Kevin

    While encouraging – it also shows how low high school vo-tech has fallen. This sort of thing should be a routine offering for high school students.

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