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Closing the Academic Divide: Uniting High School and Higher Education through Dual Enrollment

Author: Nathan Green, Chief Development Officer, Acadeum

Published by Acadeum

One crucial area of innovation in education is bridging the gap between high school and higher education. This blog explores a partnership between high schools and higher education institutions to bring new opportunities for students and enhance their educational journey.

The connection between high school and higher education is an important step in paving the way for students’ success. By establishing strong links between these two educational time periods, students can benefit from a seamless transition, ensuring a high-quality education.

Two insightful articles shed light on the transformative power of access to higher education courses. An article by Ed Trust highlights two use cases that demonstrate how access to higher education courses can provide a high-quality education, opening doors for students who may have faced barriers otherwise.

These stories showcase the potential of dual enrollment programs to transform students’ academic journeys. also shares valuable insights on the rapid growth of the dual enrollment market; the article explores how dual enrollment’s innovative approach to education is expanding and diversifying, increasing opportunities for students to engage in college-level coursework while still in high school.

Moreover, through the Acadeum network, higher ed institutions can fill open course seats and build alternative revenue streams with course demand from high schools looking to expand dual enrollment options. Continue reading to learn how Western Texas College and K12 Academy collaborate to impact students’ lives by bridging the high school to higher education learning transition through the Acadeum network.

Western Texas College

Western Texas College (WTC), a small rural college in Snyder, Texas, with full-time enrollment (FTE) of 480, understands the difficulties rural colleges face. Attracting new students to increase enrollment while managing local, state, and federal funding disparities had leadership at WTC looking for innovative opportunities to drive institutional success.

Western Texas College has offered online courses since the late 90s, and faculty have excelled in engaging students through the asynchronous experience. In January 2020, WTC realized they could share open seats in their online courses to expand their reach beyond western Texas and increase enrollment. WTC partnered with Acadeum as a Teaching Institution in January 2020, opening its course catalog to the Acadeum network and allowing high schools, colleges, and universities to take advantage of the superior online courses WTC offers.

WTC leverages its full-term spring, fall short sessions, eight-week sessions, or six-week sessions to serve students needing flexibility. Since beginning its partnership with Acadeum, WTC has helped over 2,000 college students and over 800 high school students access online courses, increasing enrollment by over four times their FTE. 

Alicia Anderson, director of dual credit at WTC says, “We are located in a rural area, and most of the districts that we currently work with are rural school districts as well. So we know the challenges that other institutions are facing, and we like to share the ways we innovated to expand dual enrollment.”

Western Texas College saw the value of incorporating dual enrollment opportunities. The decision to work with high school students involved open-mindedness and a drive to innovate on the part of the college administration. They addressed specific barriers related to Texas Success Initiative (TSI) requirements and developed an innovative approach to handling the differences between regular dual credit and online high school students.

By listing high school students as non-degree seeking, they provided more flexibility to students looking to take a course or two and explore their interests. The college has created a successful dual enrollment program and provides quality online education to students nationwide through the Acadeum network.  

K12 Private Academy 

K12 Private Academy, a Stride Company, is an online private school committed to bringing personalized learning and a US high school diploma to students worldwide. After integrating dual enrollment, the school launched early college pathways through Acadeum.

This program provides advanced ninth and tenth graders with the opportunity to earn an associate’s degree in high school, saving thousands of dollars and giving students a head start in life. Since 2021, 132 courses have been offered, benefiting 60 students. Notably, five students are working towards their associate’s degree at WTC, combining college-level coursework with career readiness programs and specialized electives.

Dual enrollment courses and early college pathways benefit students in many ways. The students enjoy being able to select from a wide range of colleges and courses, including general education and specializations like nursing, IT, computer science, and more.

They also enjoy knowing that they are taking college courses from college faculty with college students. Students don’t have to worry they will lose an entire year by messing up on the final exam. Anmar Hale, lead school counselor at K12 Private Academy, said the benefit for students of taking dual enrollment courses is “helping students prepare for their future through career readiness and giving students more opportunity to boost their GPA and to learn things that they wouldn’t traditionally learn at a public school.” 

Collaboration in Action

These institutions demonstrate the power of collaboration and the positive impact it can have on students’ educational trajectories. Working together, WTC and K12 Private Academy have formed an innovative partnership that enables high school students to access a wide range of courses and earn college credits.

The collaboration between these institutions has resulted in personalized support for dual enrollment students, including dedicated counseling, dual enrollment homerooms, and orientations that ensure students are well-informed and connected. By offering unique opportunities and expanding their academic horizons, K12 Private Academy and WTC are paving the way for students’ success.

The stories of Western Texas College and K12 Private Academy highlight the profound impact that bridging the high school to higher education divide can have on students’ lives. By fostering partnerships and expanding access to college-level courses, WTC and K12 Private Academy empower students to reach their full potential.

Acadeum supports institutions like WTC and K12 Private Academy in their efforts to bridge the academic divide. An article by Forbes underscores the importance for dual enrollment programs to ensure high school students take vetted college courses, delivered by faculty and taken alongside other college students to increase the ability to transfer the credit. Acadeum helps facilitate the connection between dual enrollment programs and colleges.

By filling open course seats and establishing partnerships with institutions worldwide, Acadeum helps increase awareness and matriculation for high school students while also providing access to courses that prepare them for college, career, and life beyond their coursework.

Collaborations like those between K12 Private Academy and Western Texas College are transforming the educational landscape, creating new opportunities for students to thrive and succeed. Prioritizing the learning connections between high school and higher education helps to ensure a brighter future for all learners.

Acadeum helps institutions by: 

  • Filling open course seats and building alternative revenue streams with course demand
  • Establishing partnerships with institutions outside the US
  • Bridging the gap between high school and higher education while increasing awareness and matriculation for high school students
  • Increasing student access to courses that will prepare them for college, career, and life after coursework
  • Adding degree-seeking students from employers and international agents to grow enrollment and revenue

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