Academic journal article College and University

Enabling Student Swirl: A Community College/University Dual Enrollment Program

Academic journal article College and University

Enabling Student Swirl: A Community College/University Dual Enrollment Program

Article excerpt

This article describes a unique partnership involving a community college and a university, in which students are jointly admitted, are eligible to enroll concurrently at both institutions, and may combine credits for financial aid eligibility. Since 1998, more than 5,000 students have been admitted to the program, with more than 1,000 graduating with baccalaureate degrees.

A Context for Dual Enrollment

Dwindling resources and rising tuition have generated keen interest and concern regarding college access, degree completion, and time-to-degree. The public and governmental authorities increasingly question duplication of effort among institutions, resources expended on gaining market share, and ways to reduce student indebtedness. At the federal level, much debate has been generated by amendments to the Higher Education Act that would dictate transfer credit policies, establish accountability measures based on degree completion, and refocus funding programs to promote baccalaureate degree attainment. These factors have led to unprecedented scrutiny related to the degree of collaboration among two- and public four-year institutions.

In Oregon, similar issues are being debated. A governor's task force charged with identifying more efficient means of delivering higher education programs identified these goals for the state's community colleges and universities:

* Improved opportunities and efficiency for students to take courses from Oregon community colleges that apply toward a baccalaureate degree.

* Increased and more efficient course offerings to meet high student demand.

* Increased capacity of the state's universities and community colleges to provide high-quality educational opportunities to more students in a timely manner.

In reviewing the current educational landscape, perhaps the most compelling trend is in enrollment patterns among students themselves. Today's students are more inclined than ever to "swirl" among institutions, as they seek to further their education in the manner that best fits their personal and financial circumstances.

The Dual Enrollment Program Defined

In response to these interrelated factors, Oregon State University and Linn-Benton Community College established a "Dual Enrollment Program" in 1998. The Dual Enrollment Program (DEP) described here is a comprehensive partnership designed to enable students to tailor educational programs that meet their personal needs and aspirations. Specific aspects of the Dual Enrollment Program include:

* Joint admission with a single application form and fee.

* Eligibility to enroll concurrently at both institutions.

* Electronically-shared student information to facilitate transmission of student transcripts (through Electronic Data Interchange or EDI ) and student financial aid data (through a specially designed system among Oregon institutions).

* Combination of credits earned concurrently to achieve full-time status for financial aid purposes.

These features distinguish the Dual Enrollment Program from more common dual admission programs, which offer eligible students the benefit of joint admission to both the community college and the university. However, such programs often involve conditional university admission and typically offer minimal coordination of enrollment services among the institutions.

The DEP was designed to give students the opportunity to derive the greatest benefits from both institutions, and to provide efficiencies in the areas of admissions, financial aid, registration, records, and course articulation. The program broadens opportunities for students to meet their individual educational goals. The overarching goal of the DEP is to promote college persistence and the completion of baccalaureate degrees.

Literature Review

A review of the literature on student transfer supports the concept of dual enrollment programs between community colleges and universities. …

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