College in high school

Teaching college classes at high schools poses a series of dilemmas for Community College Dean.

High schools prefer to run “bite-size” classes five days a week, while college instructors are used to longer classes taught two or three days a week. High schools have a longer school year, but take more days off. There are no support services in the summer to help students apply for classes and make sure they’re qualified.

Students have to test out of remedial English to take the classes the dean’s college offers. “A disturbing number of the high school seniors who are motivated enough to sign up for college courses” turn out to be ineligible.  That can mean there aren’t enough left to fill the class.

I’ve floated the idea of just setting aside some seats in some online sections of classes we’re running anyway.  That way, I thought, we’d get around both the ‘travel’ issue and the minimum size issue.  If, say, six students out of twenty-five in a given Intro to Psych class are high school seniors, the class can run just fine.  I’d even argue that they’re getting a more authentic college experience, to the extent that their classmates are primarily 18 and older.

But that doesn’t always meet the needs of the high schools.  For reasons of their own, they need to have students in prescribed places at prescribed times, with someone who is paid to teach/supervise them.

In a Florida study, dual-enrollment students showed gains if they took classes on a college campus, but not when the classes were taught at their own high school. Apparently, it’s harder to provide college-level rigor and a real college experience in the high school environment.

Read the comments on Inside Higher Ed from people who’ve taught college classes at high schools.


POSTED BY Joanne Jacobs ON February 6, 2012

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