(Posted November 19, 2007)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Juniata College's version of a dual enrollment program, in which high school students can take college courses while in high school, mirrors trends recently discovered in a national survey, including that students who participate in these programs are more likely to enroll in college and that more male students are enrolling than the national average.
"Juniata has been offering college courses to high school students for a long time, dating at least back to the 1992,\" says Athena Frederick, registrar at the college.
Originally, the college created a dual enrollment program as a reciprocal relationship with Huntingdon Area High School and other schools as part of the agreement for Juniata education majors to student teach in local school districts.
More recently, since 2005, Juniata has been offering students from all over Huntingdon County the chance to earn college credit and discover if they can do college-level work. Students from Huntingdon Area High School, Juniata County High School, Juniata Valley High School, Mount Union Area Senior High School and the Southern Huntingdon School District have been participating in what educators call a "Dual Enrollment\" program.

"The gap in students who feel they can go to college or even afford college is getting wider and these programs help solve some of those roadblocks.\"

Athena Frederick, Registrar

"Dual Enrollment is a terrific program that has allowed all of our students to begin the college admissions process by participating in PSATs and meeting with the guidance counselors to discuss post-secondary schooling,\" explains Port Williams, assistant superintendent of the Huntingdon Area School District. "The Dual Enrollment program is allowing students to get the opportunity to earn at least one semester of college credit while still in high school at little or no cost, to consider an expanded list of career possibilities, and take the first steps in making their dreams a reality.\"
A new study from the Community College Research Center, released in mid-October, found that dual enrollment programs in Florida and New York had positive outcomes for the students participating in these programs. The study tracked high school and college outcomes for New York City and Florida. In Florida, students in dual enrollment programs were more likely to earn a high school diploma, initially enroll in a four-year institution, enroll and persist in college to a second semester. Florida students in these programs also had significantly higher cumulative grade point averages three years after high school graduation and had earned more college credits.
The New York students, according to the report "The Postsecondary Achievement of Participants in Dual Enrollment: An Analysis of Student Outcomes in Two States,\" were more likely than their peers to pursue a bachelor's degree, earn higher first-semester GPAs and progress toward a degree.
Initially, dual enrollment programs focused on high-achieving or "gifted\" students, but recently many states have instituted dual enrollment programs because the programs are perceived as beneficial in promoting academic rigor and easing the transition from high school to college for students with average GPAs and interests in technical careers.
Dual enrollment programs have proliferated in many states, Pennsylvania included, because lawmakers are looking for ways to increase the rigor of secondary education. Pennsylvania has instituted a dual enrollment program as part of the Pennsylvania Department of Education's Project 720. The state budgeted $8 million for programs targeted to at-risk students, academically challenged school districts and specific school sites participating in Project 720's curriculum transformation program.
Juniata's dual enrollment program has also expanded due to the Project 720 guidelines. Frederick says the program is open to any student (from the participating districts) that has a GPA above 2.75. The five schools participating have been in the program since 2005-2006. Juniata charges each student $100 per credit hour, which is reimbursed by the state's dual enrollment program.
Many of the high school students take introductory courses (the most popular is Calculus II), but students also have explored such courses as East European Film, Major American Writers II, North American Environmental History and Religion for Seekers.
Frederick says 129 students have participated in the program the past three years and 14 went on to enroll at Juniata, a rate of roughly 10 percent. Frederick says the college does not track any students other than those who enroll at Juniata, but says that many other students who took classes at Juniata may have enrolled at nearby Penn State campuses or other colleges.
The ratio of men to women students from the program enrolling at Juniata is nearly 50 percent, which reflects an improvement on the national ratio of male-female college attendance of roughly 60 percent women and 40 percent men. That ratio mirrors the findings of the report that dual enrollment programs had a greater influence on whether male students attended college than on whether female students enrolled.
"Dual enrollment helps us become part of the community,\" Frederick says. "The parameters of travel to Juniata and timing of classes can be improved, but the numbers are very encouraging.\" Frederick also says dual enrollment programs are opening the college experience for students across the spectrum of income, social class, race and motivation. "The gap in students who feel they can go to college or even afford college is getting wider and these programs help solve some of those roadblocks,\" she adds.

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.