Maybe dual enrollment only has the potential

To decrease time to degree.  At least in Florida, it's still taking four years. Some students desire the four-year college experience.  Some, even with an associate degree, still need lower-division prerequisites.  In Tennessee at least, dual enrollment is often handled by continuing education units. And that task can have its challenges, especially since none of us signed up to handle minors.  From

Is dual enrollment really the fast track?
Deina Bossa received a degree from Santa Fe College before her high school diploma, so it's understandable she'll be taking her time getting through the University of Florida.

The 18-year-old Gainesville resident took classes at Santa Fe through its dual-enrollment program. She received her associate degree at spring commencement, more than a month before participating in the Buchholz High School graduation. She'll be attending the University of Florida in the fall, where she plans to pursue a double major in biology and economics.

She said she wants to attend UF for a full four years, taking advantage of the benefits of a Lombardi and Stamps scholarship as well as enjoying the social aspects of college life.

"I want to get the full college experience," she said. "I feel like I missed out on a little bit in high school, so I don't want to miss out in college."

Bossa isn't alone. Among dual-enrollment students who earned associate degrees in high school and entered UF since 2006, most of them spent more than two years getting their bachelor's degrees. One-third of those students have taken eight semesters or more, according to figures compiled for UF's Undergraduate Advising Council.

The issue has become a focus as the dual-enrollment program continues to grow, along with its costs. About 42,000 high school students took dual-enrollment classes at Florida community colleges in 2009-10, the most recent numbers available and a nearly 50 percent increase from a decade earlier. About 500 took dual-enrollment classes full time on Santa Fe's main campus.

One of the program's big selling points is saving families money in college expenses. Students don't pay tuition for dual-enrollment classes and, in the case of public school students, get their textbooks lent to them. "It's essentially like getting a two-year scholarship," said Linda Lanza-Kaduce, director of Santa Fe's dual-enrollment program.

The program also is meant to save state money in Bright Futures scholarships and improve graduation rates, opening spots at a university such as UF where enrollment is limited.

But the state Higher Education Coordinating Council is looking into whether dual enrollment achieves these goals as part of an evaluation of bachelor's degree production, said Matthew Bouck, director of the Florida Department of Education's Office of Articulation.

"We are not necessarily seeing the time-to-degree benefits that you might expect from such a successful program," he said.

Officials and students cite a variety of reasons. Some students take longer to get double majors or work to better enjoy their college experiences. Bright Futures gives them an incentive to stay, covering a full 120 hours for students who earn college credits in high school. State lawmakers have considered cutting the scholarships for students with accelerated credits.


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