Like many students taking college courses during the coronavirus pandemic, Alexis Lopez struggled with a poor Wi-Fi connection and professors who didn’t offer much support.
“They couldn’t really help us. They didn’t really know what to do for us,” said Lopez, who remembers becoming so frustrated in front of her computer that she burst out crying. “We had to do everything by ourselves.”
Unlike most college-goers, however, Lopez, who lives in Bastrop, Texas, is still a senior in high school. And the problems forced her to withdraw from two of these classes, saddling her with two unwanted W’s on her transcript.
“I’ve never had to withdraw from a course until the pandemic hit,” she said. “That’s what I didn’t want.”
At 18, Lopez is among what varying estimates say is 10% to 34% of high school students who take college-level courses that give them a head start on credits, save time and money, and prepare them for the demands of higher education.
But the number of students enrolling in and passing these classes has started slipping – dramatically, in some places – suggesting a potential decline ahead in the number of high school students who end up going to college. For those who do go, it means earning a degree could take longer and cost more.
“It definitely throws them off track,” said Samuel West, District P-16 director at Houston Community College.
The increasingly popular practice of taking college courses while in high school – an…