High School to College

Graduating from high school is a beginning, not an ending. CCRC studies how to make the transition to postsecondary education a launching pad for success.

Fast Facts

Dual enrollment students are more likely to finish high school, persist in postsecondary education, and accumulate college credits than their non-dually-enrolled peers.
Dual enrollment participation is associated with better college outcomes for Black, Hispanic, and White students, but the vast majority of school districts have racial/ethnic gaps in dual enrollment participation.
Transition courses are offered in an increasing number of states across the nation. A 2017 CCRC scan found students in 39 states had access to such courses, up from 29 states in 2012–13.
Summer bridge programs can contribute to student success during the first year of college.

Why We Study the High-School-to-College Transition

CCRC conducts research on programs and policies designed to prepare high school students for college, including programs focused on math, writing, and reading readiness, the transition from high school to college, and early college schools and programs.

One segment of this work focuses on acceleration programs like dual enrollment, which—along with Advanced Placement (AP)—is among the largest and fastest-growing options for high school students who want to get a jump start on their postsecondary degree requirements. CCRC researchers are investigating how such programs affect later outcomes, such as enrollment in college, persistence, and credential completion.

CCRC also studies interventions intended to boost college readiness among underprepared high school students. These reforms, including transition courses and summer bridge programs, dovetail with CCRC’s extensive work on developmental education.

Finally, as colleges advance their guided pathways reforms, they are increasingly reaching down into high schools to help students start exploring their interests and program options and developing a college and career plan. CCRC researchers are studying these types of cross-sector partnerships to understand how community colleges can start supporting students earlier in their educational journey.

Key Terms

Dual enrollment

Programs that allow high school students to take college courses and accumulate college credits. Some institutions refer to similar programs as “concurrent enrollment” or “dual credit.”

Transition curricula

Courses, learning modules, and online tutorials developed by secondary and postsecondary faculty and offered to high school students at risk of being placed into remedial courses in college.

Summer bridge programs

Programs in which students complete developmental coursework or other college preparation activities in the summer before starting college.

Diving Deeper Into Dual Enrollment Equity Practices

Dual enrollment equity pathways (DEEP) is a framework for rethinking dual enrollment as a more equitable on-ramp to college degree programs that prepare underserved students for well-paying, career-path employment in their 20s. Key DEEP practices:

Reach out to underserved students and schools

Align dual enrollment course offerings to college degrees and careers

Advise students to explore interests and develop plans

Support students by delivering high-quality instruction

Our High School to College Experts


Davis Jenkins

Senior Research Scholar


Maggie Fay

Senior Research Associate


John Fink

Senior Research Associate and Program Lead


Veronica Minaya

Senior Research Associate and Program Lead

Read More

View all of our publications on the high-school-to-college transition.