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  • Writer's pictureDonna Milgram

This Dual Enrollment Strategy Boosted Female STEM Students


My exception to recruiting high school students

If you’ve been following my work for some time, you know that I’ve shown -2-year college STEM Programs shouldn’t have a big focus on recruiting high school students – because it doesn’t work. 


Instead, they should focus on “nontraditional” students who make up the majority of 2-year college students, whose average age is 28 years old nationally. This approach works. It’s worked for 100% of the colleges that have come through our WomenTech Training and had positive results – 10 of which you can read about in the case studies on our website.


There’s one exception to this:  If your college has a focus on dual enrollment students, I can share a strategy that worked for a manufacturing program. Now, please keep in mind that dual enrollment students are generally the superstar students and they are going to use their credits towards a 4-year college degree. They are rarely going to enroll in a 2-year institution after they graduate from high school.


Taking that into account, a Manufacturing Program in a 2-year college came to me when they needed to increase their enrollment in the program overall and specifically in this case for a new certification in electronics manufacturing. This college was fortunate in that they had a relationship with a high school with a manufacturing program for 11th- and 12th-graders. 


I and the Program Chair met via Zoom with the Dual Enrollment Coordinator for the High School and mapped out a strategy that included:


  1. A 30-minute virtual presentation by the Program Chair to the female and male students in the high school manufacturing program. It incorporated WomenTech “ultimate result” language and messaging that appeals to female students. (One-third of the students attending were female.)


  1. An online survey that I developed for students to take at the end of the presentation. It gauged interest in specific courses and timelines.


  1. Follow-up by the counselor with the students to help them with scheduling and the extensive dual enrollment paperwork and approvals.


A year later, I got a thank you letter from the Chair of the Department. Here’s what he had to say:


“Of the 20 students (mostly dual-enrolled students) who joined the 2nd Electronics Manufacturing Cohort in January 2023, 10 high school seniors will be graduating this spring with an Associate Degree in Manufacturing Engineering Technology: Electronics Manufacturing Option!


What is even more exciting is that 6 of the 10 graduates are young women ( High School seniors)!


Our Department has plans to continue to use the skills and competencies developed through the WomenTech training program to recruit more women and generate more graduates for our Engineering & Technology programs.


We are currently appropriating local funds to extend this highly successful dual-enrollment program to other regional high schools in 2024.”


I am currently testing this same strategy, with some significant modifications, with a Diesel Technology Program. I’ll keep you posted on how it turns out!

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