Public Policy and Movement Building

Our country needs a new vision to improve the transition from high school to college and help students complete degrees, on time or early and without substantial debt. We believe early college is a critical component of that vision.

Even though students in the 12th grade and those in their freshman year of college may be only months apart in age, they are in vastly different spheres of education. This disconnect is starkest for low-income and underrepresented students, who are often confronted by both the weakest bridge between high school and college and the widest gulf to cross. The majority of students who step foot on college campuses won’t earn their bachelor’s degree in four years. Only 11% of low-income, first-generation students will earn a bachelor’s degree within six years of enrolling in college. And at 38 of the nation’s most selective colleges, there are more students from the top 1 percent of the income scale than from the entire bottom 60 percent.

Early college programs have a proven track record of improving high school education and increasing college access, affordability, and completion, on time or early.  Early colleges also save students, families, and government thousands of dollars and create a more efficient educational system by offering students a tuition-free college course of study during the four years of high school and helping students complete faster degrees and at higher rates. While the evidence is clear that dual enrollment programs have widespread positive impacts on students, access to these programs are less available to minority students and students from low-income families.  At this point the question is not why early college, but how

Teacher lecturing from desk

How do we expand access to dual enrollment programs and grant the opportunity to more students, both in the regions where Bard already has programs, and nationwide?

Bard Early College engages regularly with local, state, and federal policymakers, working in coalition at the local and state levels to help expand access to no-cost, sustainable dual enrollment and early college opportunities, especially to underserved communities.

Nationally, Bard serves on the steering committee of the College in High School Alliance (CHSA), which we co-founded in 2017. CHSA is a coalition of advocates for policies that sustain and grow high-quality, equity-focused early college and dual enrollment programs. Together with Jobs for the Future, KnowledgeWorks, the Middle College National Consortium, the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships, Advance CTE, and Achieving the Dream, this coalition of over 85 national and state organizations collaborates to develop and advance federal and state policies that support and enable authentic, affordable college pathways toward postsecondary degrees and credentials for high school-age students, especially those from low-income and historically underrepresented backgrounds. Bard and CHSA’s national policy agenda includes:

  • Expand Pell grants to include college courses taken in high school
  • Create federal grants to fund state and local dual enrollment programming 
  • Leverage federal teacher preparation programs to expand the pipeline of educators who can teach dual enrollment courses
  • Establish more specific-focus on dual enrollment programming within the US Dept. of Education

Bard also continues to advocate to support and expand dual enrollment opportunities at the state and local level. Policy wins across our regions include:

  • In New York, we advocated for the release of previously-allocated funds resulting in new grants made available for new Bard Early College High Schools and other new dual enrollment programs.
  • Bard worked in coalition to advocate for broader dual enrollment policies across New York state, which included the publication of a policy paper.
  • Bard led advocacy efforts for the passage of New Jersey Bill 2076, to establish and fund a statewide dual enrollment pilot program.
  • Bard successfully advocated for a new alternative early college teacher certification in New Jersey.
  • Bard participated in a Dual Enrollment Working Group in partnership with the office of the Deputy Mayor of Education in Washington, D.C. to expand funding and availability of dual enrollment programs for the district’s high school students, resulting  in a district-wide plan – Strengthening Student Access and Success in Dual Enrollment in Washington, DC
  • Bard Baltimore was highlighted as a model of college partnerships and pathways in Baltimore City’s implementation plan as part of a massive reform to Maryland’s public schools.

Policy Publications & Resources

20 Years of Success

Two decades after Bard College launched the first Bard Early College in New York City, BEC has grown into a national network of ten campuses and enrolls over 3,400 students. Recent outcomes underscores the promise of this model to expand opportunity and access in higher education.

Download the document

Expanding New York’s College In High School Programs

Developed with contributions by leading early college practitioners and advocates across New York State, this paper describes the state of the early college field, identifies key policy challenges, and makes five recommendations for strengthening the sector and expanding opportunities for students.

Download the white paper

The Path to Policy

Building on the 2020 white paper, Bard again partnered with the College in High School Alliance on this new resource to advance dual enrollment in New York State.

Download the white paper

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