Inquiry: The Journal of the Virginia Community Colleges

Author Bio(s)

Paul Williams in an adjunct instructor of U.S. Government and Politics affiliated with Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) and Loudoun County Public Schools.


After a sharp decline associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, 2023 marked two consecutive years of increase in the number of freshman and high-school dual enrollees, with under-18-year-olds driving a disproportionate share of this growth. The rising importance of this latter student group presents new opportunities for colleges as well as underappreciated challenges rooted precisely in the high-school locale of concurrent Dual Enrollment courses. While some known stumbling blocks to effective college-level instruction for high school students are inherent in the age and lower maturity levels of the dominant age cohort, others stem from matters beyond the control of students and instructors, such as different academic policies and environments of the two governing educational institutions or even the federally mandated Internet-filtering across the K-12 system. Based on first-hand observation and supported by surveys of students enrolled in the Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC) course entitled PLS 135 (U.S. Government and Politics), including from my own high school, home district (Loudoun County Public Schools), and two neighboring Virginia public-school systems, this paper offers one instructor’s perspective on the benefits and challenges of teaching college-sponsored classes in the high-school building.



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