Challenges and promising approaches across California

Students who participate in high-quality dual enrollment during high school are more likely to graduate, enter college, and persist in college to completion than their peers who don’t, according to multiple studies. For students with little “college knowledge” in their families, dual enrollment in community college provides an introduction to higher education, helping them see they can do college-level work. Dual enrollment also offers a low-cost or no-cost way to earn college credit and may help students obtain a degree faster. And studies show it can provide the biggest boost to young men of color and low-income and first-generation college students, improving educational equity.

Despite these advantages, California community colleges encounter significant challenges when they try to implement dual enrollment. To understand these barriers — and document how colleges address them — Career Ladders Project interviewed representatives of 48 of California’s 114 community colleges and studied six college-high school partnerships in depth. We found challenges in five broad categories that also present opportunities for policy change (see box below). And we found a wide range of approaches to implementing and addressing specific challenges (see dual enrollment snapshots).

Even amid uncertainty about state policy and funding, our research revealed promising approaches across California.
For example, colleges already have:

    • Paired dual enrollment with noncredit classes for adults that help families see college as a resource for the whole community (East Los Angeles College/ELAC)
    • Designed intensive student supports, in counseling and instruction, especially geared for underrepresented and first-generation students (Santa Monica College, Reedley College)
    • Nurtured strong relationships with community and K-12 partners and between college and high school faculty and counselors (Norco College, College of the Canyons)
    • Added dedicated staff as dual enrollment has blossomed (Bakersfield College)
    • Integrated dual enrollment with pathways to certificates, degrees, and transfer (Reedley, ELAC)

“Going back to what’s in
the best interest of the
student is what has led to
our success. It guides
us in what we’re doing.”
— Miguel Duenas, Associate Dean,
Student Services,
East Los Angeles College