Early College High School/Dual Enrollment 2.0

Evidence-Based Approaches to Engage Youth and Families for Educational, Career, and Community Development.


  • Isabelle Cherney Merrimack College
  • Laura Douglas Bristol Community College
  • Ellen Fischer Early College Alliance, Eastern Michigan University
  • Russell Olwell Merrimack College




education, community development, college affordability, college success, low income students


Urban and Metropolitan Colleges and Universities often serve a population that can benefit from an early college strategy. Colleges serving first-generation and low-income students often have lower retention and graduation rates than their peer institutions, as students from large urban public high schools can struggle to navigate the college classrooms and support system. While students may have achieved respectable GPAs and test scores in their high school buildings, they can fail to translate these skills at the college level, finding themselves on academic probation or worse. As researcher Anthony Jack has described in his landmark study, The Privileged Poor, students coming from large, urban districts are doubly disadvantaged by their experiences in schools; the skills that have allowed these students to get through their high schools are counterproductive at the college level (Jack, 2019).

            Using an evidence-based approach, programs being launched now by colleges and universities focus on the core missions of early college and dual enrollment programs, connecting youth less likely to attend college directly out of high school with powerful programming that propels them towards successful completion of degrees and to the start of their career. This article presents perspectives from a range of institutions (high school, two-year institutions, four-year institutions, and philanthropic investors) that are rethinking these models to maximize community impact and affordability to students and families.

Author Biographies

Isabelle Cherney, Merrimack College

Dean and Professor of Education 

School of Education and Social Policy

Merrimack College.

Laura Douglas, Bristol Community College


Bristol Community College

Ellen Fischer, Early College Alliance, Eastern Michigan University


Early College Alliance, Eastern Michigan University

Russell Olwell, Merrimack College

Dean and Associate Professor 

School of Education and Social Policy

Merrimack College


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