High school-college dual enrollment up during pandemic

Area colleges have seen enrollment increase in their College Credit Plus programs since the pandemic started.

College Credit Plus is Ohio’s dual enrollment program that gives students in grades seven through 12 the opportunity to earn college and high school credits at the same time by taking courses from Ohio colleges or universities.

Sinclair Community College has seen its highest enrollment in the program ever in 2021.

“We’ve seen continual growth,” said Liz Cicchetti, director of the CCP program at Sinclair.

Sinclair has also seen an increase in the “full time equivalency,” suggesting that students overall are taking more classes.

“What has been reported to us from some of our schools, and some of our students and families, is that there were some courses that were not necessarily covered in the high school because they flipped to virtual so late,” Cicchetti said. “CCP has always been attractive to parents and students because of the cost factor. So since some students and school districts didn’t have the option to go back in person, they leveraged CCP classes in that realm.”

Some schools didn’t know how to deliver Advanced Placement classes remotely, so Cicchetti said College Credit Plus classes might have become more attractive.

Sinclair has always offered online classes for the dual enrollment program, Cicchetti said. But the pandemic forced the college to put many more offerings online, making it easier for high school students to fit them into their schedule without coming to campus.

For the 2021 school year, Sinclair has more than 8,000 students enrolled in the College Credit Plus program. In 2020, about 7,800 students were enrolled. That’s up from 2019 when about 6,700 participated.

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Sinclair traditionally partners with some high schools to offer classes in the high school building taught by a credentialed high school teacher, Cicchetti said. With the remote option, this has allowed the college to offer those courses with Sinclair faculty.

Cedarville University’s College Now, a dual enrollment program for high school students, has seen record enrollment in each of the past three semesters, including CCP students.

In the 2019 calendar year, 897 students were enrolled in the College Now program — with 60% of them being CCP students. In 2020, there were 978 enrolled. Sixty-two percent of those students were enrolled in the CCP program.

Dual-credit courses are growing in popularity both in Ohio and nationally. In the 2019-20 academic year, over 77,000 Ohio students took at least one dual-credit course, according to Stephen Buettell, director of College Now.

Online dual enrollment gives high school students around the world access to challenging academic coursework in these difficult times.

College Now reaches online students from as far away as Malaysia, South Africa, Thailand and Peru. Local students can choose to take courses online or on campus. About half of the students in College Credit Plus and dual enrollment courses at Cedarville are from Ohio.

“I’ve heard from families who say their kid is online anyway, so they might as well get college credit,” Buettell said. “We also saw an uptick in the summer because many families were canceling vacations or trips.”

This growth is due in part to the pandemic. Buettell said the college also recently revamped the marketing strategy for the program and has engaged with more families, including homeschool and private school families.

Edison State Community College in Piqua has also seen an increase in enrollment.

In the 2020-2021 school year, the college saw 2,700 students enrolled in the College Credit Plus program. The year before, it had about 2,400.

Edison State is doing both in-person and remote learning. While each high school is different on whether it offers remote, in-person or a hybrid model, most CCP students at Edison are choosing to only take distance learning classes.

“While I am sure the pandemic has probably added to the growth we’ve seen, it’s hard to place a figure on that,” said Bruce McKenzie, chief marketing officer and director of communications at Edison State.

The two main reasons the CCP program is growing at Edison State are the school continuously adding high school partnerships and then Edison State continually adding more course sections, McKenzie said. Word-of-mouth through the high schools is also a factor, he said.

Wright State said its College Credit Plus numbers are consistent with last year’s enrollment. There were 902 students enrolled in fall of 2019 and 894 signed up the following fall, according to Wright State data. A Wilberforce University spokesperson said they have CCP students from Xenia high school. Its enrollment has not gone up since the start of the pandemic.

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