Blog: The Educated Reporter

Howard University Teams Up With D.C. High Schools
University is one of thousands to offer college courses to high school students

By Fourandsixty (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Another university in Washington, D.C., has partnered with high schools to offer their students college-level courses for free, allowing them to earn high school and college credit at the same time.

Michael Chandler of The Washington Post had a story last week about Howard University’s dual enrollment arrangement with the two Washington district high schools, joining George Washington University and the University of the District of Columbia as higher education institutions giving high school students access to take on college-level content.

These three institutions are among the thousands of colleges and universities nationwide that have made such moves in recent years. According to U.S. Department of Education 2010-11 data, slightly less than half of all higher education institutions that receive federal aid (and virtually all do), took part in a dual enrollment program. The data report, issued in 2013, also shows that roughly 1.3 million high school students in the United States took courses for college credit through a dual enrollment program. More than 80 percent of colleges and universities reported that they offer the courses to high school students on their campuses, exposing the teenagers to a new academic environment.

But these dual enrollment courses don’t always add up to college credit. For example, large states like California and Texas have unclear policies on whether higher education institutions should honor an incoming student’s dual enrollment credit, according to the Education Commission of the States. Other states do have long-running dual enrollment programs with colleges accepting the high school student’s course work for college credit.

In Washington state, students in grade 11 or 12 can enroll through Running Start, a program in place since 1990, to earn college credit at the state’s community and technical colleges, plus several four-year institutions – including Washington state. Students don’t pay tuition but are responsible for books and supplies, and the state awards the higher education institution most of the money the high school would receive for enrolling that student. In 2013-14, nearly 10 percent of the state’s 11th and 12th graders – 20,292 – were enrolled in Running Start, according to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction in Washington. By comparison, about 59,000 high school students were enrolled in an Advanced Placement course.

A 2012 study by a scholar at the University of Iowa found that when controlling for student and school factors, dual enrollment programs increase by 7 percent the likelihood a high school student would earn a bachelor’s degree.