Academic Advising Practices for Dual Enrollment and Early College High School Students
April 11, 2023
Marissa Moreno, Ph.D.
Lee College | Executive Director, School & College Partnerships
Academic advising for dual enrollment and early college high school students is an important topic for all students taking college level courses while in high school. Following the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships’ (NACEP) standard S3, dual enrollment programs are required to provide evidence that all students are advised into their college courses. In consideration of the academic momentum generated from accumulating college credits while in high school, it is pertinent to identify trained advisors to assist students into classes towards a bachelor’s degree or high demand workforce program.
Advising Practices for Dual Enrollment and Early College High School Students
Following the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships’ (NACEP) accreditation standard S3, the importance of advising is identified, which reads “Concurrent enrollment students are advised about the benefits and implications of taking college courses, as well as the college’s policies and expectations.” In addition, as a part of the standard, NACEP details required evidence stating the need for a “description of the process of advising students, including format, delivery method, timeline, who conducts advising, and what information is provided.” College level coursework taught to high school students is offered through different programming. For the purposes of this blog, dual enrollment is defined as students earning both high school and college credits. With similar expectations as a dual enrollment student, the early college high school model aims at identifying specific student populations in efforts to advance postsecondary educational attainment, mostly for historically excluded students. For most dual enrollment and early college high school students, advising is inconsistently provided by either the high school counselor or college advisor. Students in a dual enrollment program not accredited by NACEP, may receive limited advising or none at all.
High School Counselors
More times than most, high school counselors are tasked with recruiting, identifying, and advising students into dual enrollment coursework. These expectations are in addition to the several other required tasks necessary to provide supports to high school students. Oftentimes, high school counselors are not trained by college personnel, misadvising students into courses that may not transfer and/or be applied to a specific transferable degree plan.
To ensure students are advised into college courses towards their intended educational outcomes, including transferability and applicability of courses into bachelor’s degree plans or completion of a high demand certification, trained college advisors are an important factor in the success of these students. Aside from course planning, college advisors meet with students struggling in their courses as a retention intervention. As college personnel, advisors are able to act as liaisons between college faculty and dual enrollment students. It is during this opportunity, students learn advocacy and college expectations.
Concerns with Excess Credits
When students are misadvised, oftentimes this leads to excess credits within a specific identified major or towards future financial aid opportunities. Students who intend to transfer to a four-year institution and select a pathway aligned to their intended goal, course sequencing and planning by a college advisor can assist students with minimal credit loss and to complete more applicable college-level coursework while in high school. In addition, this practice will ensure students are not taking classes that do not specifically align towards the bachelor’s degree of choice, potentially inhibiting their ability to maximize financial aid options.
Equity and access are important in ensuring success for students navigating through college courses while in high school, especially for those historically excluded. Academic advising that aligns applicable dual enrollment courses to an intended pathway allows for a smoother transition into their college or career of choice. While advising practices are not consistent throughout the nation and policy surrounding advising varies from state-to-state, NACEP accreditation promotes expectations best served for students. Intentional conversations between school districts and institutions of higher education could combat some concerns with the understanding of how to advise students and parents about dual enrollment coursework. This research is continual and practitioner feedback will inform and advance research and policy recommendations.