Home Trends in Higher Education How Fast is the Dual Enrollment Market Growing?
How Fast is the Dual Enrollment Market Growing?

How Fast is the Dual Enrollment Market Growing?


In an April 2023 article titled How Fast is the Dual Enrollment Market Growing?, Eduventures Senior Analyst at Encoura Clint Raine tackles a topic made more relevant this Spring when it was revealed that dual enrollment was the major reason for community college enrollments increasing for the first time since the pandemic.

Mr. Raine writes that it is tough to define the size of the pre-college programming market, most likely because many different terms are used to describe it. For example, dual enrollment, concurrent enrollment, and early college are all terms used to describe programs that allow high school students to earn college credit. Mr. Raine cites the College in High School Alliance’s 2021 report that states that dual enrollment data is either old, inconsistent, or too general. However, there are two proxies that Mr. Raine believes can provide a glimpse of the dual enrollment market size.

Proxy 1 is the Non-Degree/Certificate-Seeking Undergraduate Enrollment. Mr. Raine writes that this segment includes, but is not limited to, dual enrollment students. He reports that in Fall 2021, there were 1.94 million enrolled students under this classification. These students comprised 14 percent of the degree/certificate seeking undergraduate enrollment of 13.9 million. Mr. Raine uses the data in the figure below to illustrate how these populations have fared over the past decade with the non-degree/certificate seeking undergrad population increasing while the degree/certificate seeking undergrad population declined.

the non-degree/certificate seeking undergrad population increasing while the degree/certificate seeking undergrad population declined

Proxy 2 is Under 18 Undergraduate Enrollment. According to NCES (the National Center for Educational Statistics), this enrollment includes high school students taking regular college courses for credit. In the figure below, Mr. Raine points out how the number of students included in this metric more than doubled over the past decade from 812k to 1.5M. Mr. Raine believes that Proxy 2 is a more accurate proxy than Proxy 1.

Under 18 Undergraduate Enrollment

In addition to the two national points of data cited by Mr. Raine, he mentions that certain states publish more accurate data about dual credit enrollments. The reason is that high schools are required by law (ESSA) to report data to their states about students taking accelerated coursework to earn postsecondary credit. He cites five states that stand out based on their data.

Mr. Raine writes that pre-college programming improves college matriculation rates and performance. He also writes that more work needs to be done to see that these programs reach more than those students who are already planning to attend college. He writes that experts believe these programs need to reach out more to low-income students. Ohio reports that only 17.8 percent of College Credit Plus participants are economically disadvantaged. Lastly, Mr. Raine writes that the increase in dual enrollment participation could be a harbinger of potential increases in college enrollments.

I have been a proponent of dual enrollment programs for years. I witnessed the impact firsthand when my daughters enrolled in universities in Texas and had classmates from Texas whose college standing was a year or even two years ahead of theirs thanks to Texas’ aggressive dual enrollment program. There are very few students who can earn that much credit through Advanced Placement programs. Dual enrollment saves students time and saves students and their families money, both of which matter. I’ll answer Mr. Raine’s question about how fast the dual enrollment market is growing with three words – not fast enough.

Wally Boston Dr. Wallace E. Boston was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of American Public University System (APUS) and its parent company, American Public Education, Inc. (APEI) in July 2004. He joined APUS as its Executive Vice President in 2002. In September 2019, Dr. Boston retired as CEO of APEI and retired as APUS President in August 2020. Dr. Boston guided APUS through its successful initial accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association in 2006 and ten-year reaccreditation in 2011. In November 2007, he led APEI to an initial public offering on the NASDAQ Exchange. For four years from 2009 through 2012, APEI was ranked in Forbes' Top 10 list of America's Best Small Public Companies. During his tenure as president, APUS grew to over 85,000 students, 200 degree and certificate programs, and approximately 100,000 alumni. While serving as APEI CEO and APUS President, Dr. Boston was a board member of APEI, APUS, Hondros College of Nursing, and Fidelis, Inc. Dr. Boston was appointed to the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity by the U.S. Secretary of Education in 2019. He also serves as a member of the Board of Advisors of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), as a Trustee of The American College of Financial Services, as a member of the board of Our Community Salutes - USA, and as a member and chair of the board of New Horizons Worldwide. He has authored and co-authored papers on the topic of online post-secondary student retention, and is a frequent speaker on the impact of technology on higher education. Dr. Boston is a past Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the McDonogh School, a private K-12 school in Baltimore. In his career prior to APEI and APUS, Dr. Boston served as either CFO, COO, or CEO of Meridian Healthcare, Manor Healthcare, Neighborcare Pharmacies, and Sun Healthcare Group. Dr. Boston is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, and Chartered Global Management Accountant. He earned an A.B. degree in History from Duke University, an MBA in Marketing and Accounting from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business Administration, and a Doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. In 2008, the Board of Trustees of APUS awarded him a Doctorate in Business Administration, honoris causa, and, in April 2017, also bestowed him with the title President Emeritus. In August 2020, the Board of Trustees of APUS appointed him Trustee Emeritus. In November 2020, the Board of Trustees announced that the APUS School of Business would be renamed the Dr. Wallace E Boston School of Business in recognition of Dr. Boston's service to the university. Dr. Boston lives with his family in Austin, Texas.


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