Auburn First dual-enrollment program expanding reach to provide access, affordability to more high school students

Innovative initiative offers practical path to university
Published: October 08, 2021 | Updated: October 19, 2021
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Auburn University is expanding access and affordability for high school students who want to attend the land-grant institution through its Auburn First dual-enrollment program.

Reimagined in 2018, the program offers dual-enrollment opportunities for high school students beginning in 10th grade, with eligible students allowed to complete up to 24 hours of Auburn credit before graduating from high school. Carrying the slogan “Get started, get accepted, get ahead,” the program provides online coursework for students with an unweighted cumulative grade point average of 3.0, or better, at their respective high schools.

By providing an accessible and affordable pathway for students, the program offers students interested in attending Auburn or any other higher education institution the opportunity to gain experience by completing college-level coursework before stepping on campus. Designed as a springboard for those looking to get a jump on their collegiate academic courses, Auburn First helps students decrease the time needed to complete a degree, giving them valuable experience and confidence in handling college-level classes while earning high school credit.

“We know that discussions about students’ college plans often begin before they are even in high school,” Auburn Provost Bill Hardgrave said. “Our goal with Auburn First is to give students an affordable option that allows them to access college-level coursework before they graduate from high school. The confidence they gain from these courses is critical to helping them realize their potential for success in college and, in many cases, allows them to gain early acceptance into Auburn.” 

Students who earn at least six credit hours of approved Auburn coursework and maintain a 3.0 GPA in those college classes by Aug. 15 of their senior year qualify for automatic admission to the university. Designed to be affordable, courses cost about a third of the on-campus rate, and tuition waivers also are available for students with demonstrated financial need, as program organizers are committed to keeping costs at a minimum for participants.

“Dual enrollment is a proven approach to increase access to higher education,” Vice President for Enrollment Joffery Gaymon said. “We know that if students take dual enrollment, they are more likely to finish high school and continue college. Auburn First has proven to be a successful model in ensuring an Auburn education remains affordable and accessible to the best and brightest students.

“As we continue to advance and fulfill the university's land-grant mission, we are eager to see this program's positive impact on students for years to come.”

Created with high school students in mind, the program’s online courses are taught by trained Auburn faculty. In addition, the program provides students with access to several academic resources, including tutoring services, University Writing, Adobe Creative Cloud and Office 365. High school students receive “chords of distinction” to wear with their graduation regalia if they complete 12 credit hours of Auburn First courses by Aug. 15 of their senior year and maintain a 3.4 Auburn GPA.

“We understand there may be a learning curve when high school students enroll in college courses, so we place great emphasis on providing meaningful, high-touch support,” said Alli Bracewell, student success coordinator for Auburn First. “Our team actively engages with students and families to ensure they have a positive experience and their needs are met. We want our students to be successful and believe we have appropriate measures in place to give our dual-enrollment students the best opportunity to succeed.”

During the 2020-21 academic year, 89 percent of the students who completed the admission requirements received automatic admission to Auburn. All totaled, 57 students joined the program this fall, and more than 200 students are currently enrolled in Auburn First.

“I loved Auburn First,” said Alex’Ah Boone, a freshman chemical engineering major at Auburn who completed 11 Auburn First hours while attending Jefferson County International Baccalaureate School in Birmingham. “It was an opportunity that I’ll never regret, and it prepared me for college by exposing me to the way assignments work at a university, both time-wise and content-wise. I really do have an advantage over my peers who did not attend Auburn First because I already knew what to expect my freshman fall semester.

“Not only does it prepare you for the rigor of college courses, but also if Auburn is your dream school, it gives you the opportunity to get a head start on your academic career at the university. I highly recommend Auburn First.”

The program has displayed considerable success in recent years, aligning with nearly 160 high schools throughout Alabama to provide dual-enrollment options. Most recently, the program expanded to include Fulton County, Georgia, students beginning fall 2022.

More Information Auburn First

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact.