Three Guidelines for Sharing in a Cross-Campus Relationship

Sarah Diel-Hunt, associate vice president for academic affairs at Heartland Community College in Normal, Ill., and Andrew Wise, superintendent of nearby Olympia Community Unit School District 16, outside the district headquarters.

Creating a successful dual enrollment program requires willingness on the part of the partnering institutions, and the people who make up those institutions, to share resources, responsibilities and results.

In this way, dual enrollment programs require secondary and postsecondary worlds to collide in a manner that can be uncomfortable to those of us accustomed to operating as leaders within our own spheres. However, this collision of worlds does not have to be painful. If managed appropriately, the organizational disruption can be positive, and the two worlds can blend to the benefit of all involved.

Based on our experiences over the past five years building a partnership between a school district and a community college in central Illinois, we believe strongly in three guiding principles.

» Successful dual enrollment programs share resources: spaces, faculty, curriculum, professional development and students.
We share space in obvious ways (classroom space for dual enrollment courses), but we also can share spaces when we use the district campus for college events or host Heartland Community College faculty meetings at the high school. The more staff and students become familiar and comfortable in both places, the easier it can be to seamlessly blend programs.

We also share faculty and curriculum, with one faculty member teaching a course to both high school and college students.

A successful dual enrollment program requires faculty be oriented to their new roles. Outline the expectations for faculty at both levels and provide them with information and support to meet those expectations, such as a faculty handbook and electronic resources. Ensure these expectations are reinforced at appropriate times. Also, schedule periodic joint meetings of high school and college faculty to ensure a shared understanding of curriculum, courses and programs.

We also can share professional development with college faculty members who teach dual enrollment classes. Most importantly, we share our most precious resource: our students. We want to see that every dually enrolled student is nurtured and fully developed. This means creating a college-like environment in the high school classroom by giving students freedom and responsibility similar to what they would experience in college (e.g., classes that meet two or three times a week rather than daily and expectations for substantial work to be completed by students outside of class). We want instructors to relax some of the structured rules of the high school classroom to mimic the more relaxed college environment.

» Successful dual enrollment programs share responsibilities.
The high school and college must work together to communicate effectively to students and parents throughout the dual enrollment process. Ensure the messaging is consistent by designing marketing and information pieces jointly, holding joint informational sessions and convening joint staff meetings.

High schools and colleges also must share college and career advising responsibilities to ensure students make appropriate course selections to meet both their high school and college program requirements. Consider requiring high school students to meet with a college adviser prior to enrolling in dual enrollment courses or during certain intervals in their dual enrollment program.

» Successful dual enrollment programs share results.
The ultimate outcome of a dual enrollment program is course credit, which is literally shared when the student earns dual credit.

We also can share data to inform program improvement. High schools can share data on course-taking patterns and standardized test scores for dual enrollment students that might inform college placement. Colleges can share data on the performance of dual enrollment students in subsequent courses and in completing degree or certificate programs.