The following editorial was sent to
Alabama newspapers by its co-authors to publicize the benefits of dual enrollment as a career
preparation tool, drop-out deterrent, and economic development
Career Preparation through Dual
Enrollment: Producing Scholars with Skills
Dr. Freida Hill, Chancellor, Alabama Community College System
Dr. Joe Morton, Superintendent, Alabama Department of Education
“If anything is certain, it is that change is certain. The world
we are planning for today will not exist in this form tomorrow,”
noted Philip Crosby, management consultant. And that, my fellow
Alabamians, is a fact.
Revolutionary changes have taken place and continue to take
place in every aspect of our lives. To name a few:
communications (think cellular phones, e-mail, social media);
transportation (think hybrid vehicles and super-sonic air
travel); entertainment (think movies on-demand, 3-D TVs,
Young people today have more choices than ever and that extends
to education options, especially at the high school level where
savvy students can simultaneously prepare for a career and earn
college credits while earning a diploma. More and more students
are pursuing this option through the dual enrollment program in
career technical education.
Dual enrollment is a partnership between high schools and
two-year colleges. Students who meet certain eligibility
criteria can participate. The program offers young people a path
to self-sufficiency and independence by equipping them with
job-ready skills while providing the foundation for a
certificate or a degree. Students may also earn dual credits in
academic transfer courses such as those in science, mathematics,
and the humanities.
Career preparedness - learning to DO something
Dual enrollment allows students to take college classes in a
field for which they have an aptitude or interest; associate
with like-minded peers; and have a more hands-on approach to
learning. In short, it’s learning that translates into earning.
As the high school years come to an end, many students are
anxious to graduate and get a job, continue their education, or
both. The dual enrollment program provides these students with
the skills to do so. Armed with a high school diploma in one
hand and a certificate or credential in the other, the
individual can confidently step through the door marked
Dual enrollment programs go a step beyond traditional classroom
settings by incorporating actual hands-on training into the
curriculum. Class sizes are generally smaller, which allows more
one-on-one teacher-student interaction, and training with actual
equipment provides “real” rather than “realistic” experience.
The students know they are enrolled in college-level courses
that also count toward their high school diploma. Such
motivation increases the likelihood of graduation thus
decreasing the probability of dropping out.
According to the America’s Promise Alliance and Johns Hopkins
University Every Child a Graduate Center, Alabama has
experienced a significant increase in its graduation rate since
2008. In fact Alabama ranks 4th in the nation in the percentage
increase in graduation rate in its recently released national
report. While this progress is moving our state in the right
direction, there remain far too many students who choose to
leave the K-12 education system before obtaining a diploma.
According to Civic Enterprises a high percentage of high school
dropouts report “classes were not interesting,” calling for
alternatives to traditional instructional delivery methods.
The dual enrollment program serves as an excellent example of a
more engaging instructional delivery method that does not
denigrate current high school curriculum, but rather expands
options for students. Dual enrollment essentially serves a
“dual” purpose – an incentive to stay in school and a
competitive edge in the job market upon graduation.
Economic development tool
Research confirms that workforce availability has become the
number one criterion when businesses look to expand or locate in
an area. While Alabama’s metropolitan areas certainly have much
to offer a prospective business, it’s the state’s rural areas
that have seemingly been left behind the economic power curve.
The job-specific skills gained through a dual enrollment program
can level the playing field giving rural communities a better
shot at landing an industry. Thomasville in Clarke County can
attest to this having recently landed a Canadian-based steel
manufacturer. The firm itself cited the availability of a
trained workforce as the deciding factor.
Recruiting an industry, especially to a rural community, is a
major coup. In addition to better-paying jobs, enhanced quality
of life, and economic growth, other industry prospects soon
New, existing, and expanding industries are looking for workers
with skills, and dual enrollment is one way our education and
workforce systems can respond. To be successful short-term and
long-term, we should consider a three-prong approach to
education: identification, cultivation, and preparation.
Identify a student’s interests and talents, and then cultivate
these interests and talents through programs such as dual
enrollment, so the individual is prepared for a successful
The State Board of Education has approved funding for several
thousand students to participate in career technical education
dual enrollment free of charge over the past three years. These
grants are administered by the Workforce Development Division of
the Department of Postsecondary Education. The Alabama Community
College System and Alabama’s public high schools are proud to
help high school students get a jump start on their career and
postsecondary education. For more information on the dual
enrollment program, contact your area community college.
Dr. Freida Hill is Chancellor of the Alabama
Community College System/Alabama Department of Postsecondary
Education and may be contacted at
Dr. Joe Morton is Superintendent of the Alabama Department of
Education and may be reached at