How many colleges and universities let high schoolers take classes?

For high school students looking to plan ahead, dual enrollment programs can offer tempting alternatives to Advanced Placement courses. Around 4,410 two- and four-year degree-granting postsecondary institutions in the U.S. are offering dual enrollment, and teens taking advantage can shave time off their quest for a degree and often save some tuition money in the process.

Many dual enrollment programs may have eligibility requirements, funding, extra academic support and credit limits. However, many high schoolers choose to take on college courses outside of a dual enrollment program.

The National Center for Education Statistics released a new report, titled "Dual Enrollment Programs and Courses for High School Students at Postsecondary Institutions: 2010-11," and its findings include lots of data about what colleges and universities are doing. The results, which are based on responses from 1,520 institutions in the U.S., show how students are using dual enrollment programs, in addition to how schools are offering them.

Here are the key findings that caught our attention:

1. 53% of institutions served high schoolers, as well as college students.
Public two-year institutions had the highest high schooler enrollment both within and outside a dual enrollment program. Private, for-profit four-year institutions had the weakest high school student enrollment.

2. 90% of high school students took courses withininstead of outsidea dual enrollment program.
85% of institutions offer the same course curricula for high schoolers within a dual enrollment program as college students. Just 4% of institutions had courses specifically designed for high schoolers.

3. Over half of institutions offer a lower tuition for high schoolers both within and outside a dual enrollment program.
Half of institutions reported that students paid fees, and 60% of institutions reported that students paid for books. Over half (56%) of institutions offer a lower tuition rate through grants, and/or tuition waivers. Private, for-profit four-year institutions most commonly funded high school students participating within or outside a dual enrollment program.

4. For students enrolled within a dual enrollment program, the institution helped foot the bill.
The institution was the most common source (77%) of funding for high school students within a dual enrollment program, followed by parents and students (66%), high schools and school districts (44%), and the state (38%).

5. 17% of institutions granted associate degrees to high schoolers during the 2010-2011 academic year.
While 17% granted associate degrees, 15% awarded certificates. According to a CollegeMeasures.org report, those with occupational and technical certificates can earn $10,000 more than those with a non-occupational certificate or associate’s degree.

6. Most high schoolers taking college courses take one course per academic term.
44% of institutions reported high schoolers tend to take one course per term; 18% reported high schoolers take two courses per term, and only 3% reported students enrolled in three or more courses per academic term. A 2007 study by the Community College Research Center found that high schoolers who participated within or outside a dual enrollment program had higher GPAs three years into college than their peers who did not participate.

7. A quarter of institutions offering dual enrollment programs accept ninth graders.
About 97% of dual enrollment programs accept 12th graders, while 91% accept 11th graders. About 40% accept students in 10th grade, and 25% accept students in the ninth grade. About half of institutions, 46%, reported that the eligibility requirements for a dual enrollment program were the same as the college’s admission standards.

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Filed Under: Higher Ed K12
Top image credit: Flickr user RDECOM