By Cynthia Belliveau, Ed.D.
Dean, UVM Continuing and Distance Education
Vermont is known for having one of the best high school graduation rates in the country. But when it comes to college enrollment, it’s a very different story.
In fact, college enrollment still hovers at 52 percent in Vermont, the lowest in New England, according to a 2017 report by the New England Secondary School Consortium.
And one of the many challenges Vermont faces as a state is producing graduates with the skills to participate in the 21st-century workforce.
As Jeb Spaulding, Chancellor of the Vermont State Colleges System, pointed out in a recent op-ed, 95 percent of the jobs created since the Great Recession a decade ago have gone to workers with at least some college education. Meanwhile, those with a high school diploma were left behind.
The recession devastated low-skill, blue-collar and clerical jobs, and the recovery ended up favoring primarily high-skill, managerial, and professional jobs. In October 2018, Spaulding noted, the national unemployment rate was double for those with only a high school diploma as opposed to a bachelor’s degree.
We all know the importance of a college education, and we’re also aware of the many barriers to college access, including affordability and academic preparation.
Vermont’s Dual Enrollment program is working to bridge the gap and help Vermont students.
Dual Enrollment—and a robust precollege program offered at the University of Vermont—can help open the door for Vermont high school students who might not otherwise consider college as an option.
What is the Dual Enrollment Program?
Vermont’s $1.4 million Dual Enrollment program is a crucial tool in helping Vermont high school students aspire to continue their education past high school.
Student participation in the Dual Enrollment program has increased since the Vermont Legislature established the program under Act 77 in 2013. According to the January 2018 legislative report on Act 77, the total number of Dual Enrollment vouchers increased from 633 in 2013 to 2,660 in 2017.
A fundamental goal of Dual Enrollment is to give high school students whose parents may not have attended college a successful college experience while still in high school. The intention is to help students understand that they can do college-level work and realize some of the opportunities available in college.
Student Eligibility for Dual Enrollment
Under the Dual Enrollment program, high school students may apply for a voucher to enroll in classes at the University of Vermont and other Vermont colleges to earn transferable college credit. Students can access up to two college courses with tuition fully reimbursed through a voucher system approved by their high schools.
Eligibility Requirements Include:
- Students are a resident of Vermont
- Students have completed 10th, 11thor 12th grade
- Students who attend a school that is publicly funded including a Vermont career technical center
- Students who attend an approved independent high school and are publicly funded by their hometowns
- Students who are assigned to a public school through the High School Completion Program
- Students who are home study students
Student Requirements for Dual Enrollment
- Students must receive approval for their participation from their high school principal or designee
- Students wanting to participate in Dual Enrollment must include it in their Personalized Learning Plan
Dual Enrollment and Precollege Courses at UVM
Since 2004, UVM Continuing and Distance Education has offered a precollege program to Vermont high school juniors and seniors. These students can apply for Dual Enrollment vouchers and explore career fields with leading experts, enroll in classes with other high school college students, experience the challenge of a college-level course, and earn transferable college credit.
UVM’s precollege offerings include entry-level courses and a four-week (two weeks on-campus, two weeks online) Summer Academy program. Courses range from Drones for Environmental Mapping to Adventures in Neuroscience to Cultural Anthropology.
At no cost to the student, the payback for taking precollege courses under the Dual Enrollment program is well worth the effort.