By Cynthia Belliveau, EdD
Dean, UVM Continuing and Distance Education
Governor Peter Shumlin has said that one of the top challenges Vermont faces is producing graduates that have the skills to participate in the 21st-century workforce. Vermont’s Dual Enrollment program, which the state Legislature agreed last month to fund for the next two years, can help bridge the gap.
It’s been well reported in the media that despite having one of the highest high school graduation rates in the country — 86 percent — only 41 percent of Vermont high school graduates go straight from high school to college. We clearly have some work to do.
What is the Dual Enrollment program?
Dual Enrollment – and precollege programs offered at many Vermont colleges, including the University of Vermont and Community College of Vermont – can help open the door for Vermont high school students who might not otherwise consider college as an option.
Under the $1.2 million Dual Enrollment program, high school students can enroll in classes at Vermont colleges. Students can take up to two, 4-credit courses free as a junior or senior, usually at night or over the summer, and they receive credit from their high school and the college.
Student participation in the Dual Enrollment program has been going up since the Legislature established the program as part of the Flexible Pathways Bill in 2013, and nearly 1,300 Vermont students participated in 2014.
Overseen by the Vermont Agency of Education, Vermont’s Dual Enrollment Program introduces college-level work to high school students and gives them a head start on college. The Dual Enrollment program is open to Vermont high school students who attend public schools.
Dual Enrollment at The University of Vermont
For the past 11 years, UVM Continuing and Distance Education has offered an outstanding precollege program to high school juniors and seniors who can explore career fields with professors who are leading experts, enroll in classes with other high school college students, experience the challenge of a college-level course, and earn transferable college credit.
Since 2004, 2,586 students have enrolled in UVM’s precollege program, of which 558 have matriculated to UVM. Of the 558 students, more than 85 have graduated. The number of students who have matriculated has been slowly but steadily climbing – from seven in 2005, to 38 in 2009, to 149 in 2014.
Without a post-secondary education, one’s future earning potential is lower, which we all know Vermont’s economy can’t afford. With the renewal of Vermont’s Dual Enrollment, I hope more high school students will be taking advantage of precollege courses at UVM and investing in their future. At no cost to the student, the payback is well worth the effort.