Humanities Indicators
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High School Students and the Humanities at Community Colleges

Dual enrollment, which allows students to take courses for college credit while still enrolled in high school, is increasingly widespread, with many state education agencies actively promoting the practice. While both two- and four-year colleges and universities offer these programs, high school students are more likely to be enrolled at community colleges.[1] Research indicates that students who earn dual enrollment credits are more likely to attend college, earn a higher grade point average, and make swifter progress toward a college degree.[2] While reducing the cost of higher education for some families, dual enrollment has been criticized for exacerbating inequality, since participants tend to be well-resourced white students.[3] Some humanities faculty at four-year colleges and universities worry that dual enrollment drives down enrollment at their institutions.[4] Other observers worry about the rigor and scope of such courses, particularly when they are offered for community college credit but taught by secondary school instructors.[5] This study does not speak to the impact of dual enrollment, but it does indicate the number and distribution of high school students in the ecosystem of humanities education at community colleges.

Key Findings:

  • Between 270,000 and 294,100 high school students were enrolled in at least one humanities course at a community college in fall 2015 (Figure 12). The number of students enrolled in English classes in total (estimated at 256,000–280,000) was almost equal to that, with approximately 200,000 high school students enrolled in other humanities subjects. This suggests that high school students tend to take more than one community college course per term.
  • More than 90% of community colleges had high school students enrolled in at least one humanities course at their institution, but there were substantial differences among the disciplines in the shares of institutions at which this was occurring (Figure 13). Between 87% and 95% of community colleges had high school students taking a course in English, and between 69% and 79% had high school students enrolled in history courses. Considerably fewer community colleges had dual enrollment students taking LOTE classes or philosophy courses.
  • Humanities coursetakers were likeliest to be a high school student in Southern and Midwestern schools, with dually enrolled students making up 10% of humanities enrollment (Figure 14). The share of humanities coursetakers who were dual enrollment students was smallest at community colleges in the Northeast, approximately 6%. However, within each of these regions there were substantial differences in the shares that dually enrolled high school students in particular disciplines. In the Northeast, for instance, the share of LOTE coursetakers who were in high school was almost twice as large as the share of dually enrolled students in any other type of humanities course.

Tables

CC_Fig12: Dually Enrolled High School Students Taking at Least One Humanities Course at a Community College, by Discipline, Fall 2015

The middle bar depicts the estimated enrollment, and the upper and lower bars depict the range of uncertainty.

* Includes: 1) survey courses entitled “Humanities”; and 2) courses coded in colleges’ information systems as humanities but not counted in the other disciplinary categories.

** The estimated value for “Any Humanities Course” is unduplicated and thus less than the sum of the values for the individual disciplines.

For the values underlying this figure, see American Academy of Arts Sciences, Humanities Indicators, “Humanities Education in Community Colleges: A Pilot Study,” https://humanitiesindicators.org/binaries/pdf/HI_Humanities_Education_in_Community_Colleges.pdf (March 2019), appendix, tables 10, E5, FL5, H5, P5, and OH5.

CC_Fig13: Share of Community Colleges with Dually Enrolled High School Students Taking Humanities Courses, by Discipline, Fall 2015

The middle bar depicts the estimated proportion, and the upper and lower bars depict the range of uncertainty.

* Includes: 1) survey courses entitled “Humanities”; and 2) courses coded in colleges’ information systems as humanities but not counted in the other disciplinary categories.

** The estimated value for “Any Humanities Course” is unduplicated and thus less than the sum of the values for the individual disciplines.

For the values underlying this figure, see American Academy of Arts Sciences, Humanities Indicators, “Humanities Education in Community Colleges: A Pilot Study,” https://humanitiesindicators.org/binaries/pdf/HI_Humanities_Education_in_Community_Colleges.pdf (March 2019), appendix, tables 5, E5, FL5, H5, P5, and OH5.

CC_Fig14: Dually Enrolled High School Students as a Share of Community College Coursetakers in Selected Humanities Disciplines, by Region, Fall 2015

ENG: English • LOTE: Languages Other than English • HIST: History • PHIL: Philosophy

The middle bar depicts the estimated proportion, and the upper and lower bars depict the range of uncertainty.

* Oth Hum: Other humanities, includes: 1) survey courses entitled “Humanities”; and 2) courses coded in colleges’ information systems as humanities but not counted in the other disciplinary categories.

** Any Hum: Any humanities course

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Endnotes

[1] Stephanie Marken et al., Dual Enrollment Programs and Courses for High School Students at Postsecondary Institutions: 2010–11 (Washington, DC: US Department of Education, 2013), Table 1. See also John Fink, Davis Jenkins, and Takeshi Yanagiura, What Happens to Students Who Take Community College “Dual Enrollment” Courses in High School? (New York: Community College Research Center and National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, 2017).
[2] Melissa Merchur Karp et al., The Postsecondary Achievement of Participants in Dual Enrollment: An Analysis of Student Outcomes in Two States (Minneapolis: National Research Center for Career and Technical Education, 2007).
[3] Erik Gilbert, “How Dual Enrollment Contributes to Inequality,” Chronicle of Higher Education, November 5, 2017, https://www.chronicle.com/article/How-Dual-Enrollment/241668 (accessed 12/12/2018).
[4] See, for instance, the Forum, “Is High School the Future of Higher Education,” Perspectives on History, September 2015, available online at https://www.historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-on-history/september-2015-x40815.
[5] Scott Jaschik, “Dual Enrollment, Multiple Issues,” Inside Higher Ed, August 30, 2018, https://www.insidehighered.com/admissions/article/2018/08/20/study-finds-mixed-impact-dual-enrollment (accessed 12/13/2018).