Learning About the Role of College Student Through Dual Enrollment Participation
Dual enrollment programs allow high school students to take college courses and receive college credit and have become a popular educational intervention. This paper seeks a rationale for this enthusiasm by exploring whether dual enrollment might serve as a location in which students learn about the role of college student. Sociological theories of role change posit that, if this is the case, dual enrollment might encourage postsecondary persistence. In this study, in-depth interviews and observations were conducted among a sample of 26 students in their first semester of a dual enrollment course. Seventeen of the 26 high school students shifted their conceptions of the role of college student during their first semester in a college course, as indicated by their more accurate descriptions of the role at the end of the course. Changes in participants' role conceptions and identities were encouraged by anticipatory socialization, role rehearsal, trial-and-error, and cognitive interpretation of individual experiences. The paper concludes with implications for programs and policy.
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