Doral College was founded with the goal of making higher education opportunities more accessible by leveraging innovation and flexibility to create a pathway for students hindered by traditional barriers. Fernando Zulueta, Founder and CEO of Academica, an innovative global organization serving more than 200 charter schools in 12 states, had seen firsthand the impact advancement opportunities could have on students’ futures. But opportunities like these were still out of reach for many lacking the adequate transportation, educational resources, or support to make them a reality. In the traditional landscape of higher education as well, a need for more accessible, innovative options continued to grow. In response, Zulueta and a group of like-minded business and community leaders partnered to establish the college in 2011.
In its early years, the college focused on expanding opportunities to local charter schools with a high need for advanced programs. While dual enrollment in itself was not a new or novel concept, the College’s approach sought to completely integrate the high school experience of qualified students by allowing them to earn Associate in Arts degrees in conjunction with their high school diplomas within the nurturing environment of the students’ current school community. Its initiatives focused on providing students with the critical thinking skills necessary to adapt to the career challenges of the 21st century, a goal made possible by the personalized attention and support provided through the college’s close collaboration with the students’ partner school.
Expanding Access and Improving Technologies
By 2018, the College had grown to serve students from a number of partner charter school systems in four Florida counties including Doral Academy, Mater Academy, Somerset Academy, SLAM Academy, Pinecrest Academy, and others.
Since then, participation has only grown throughout the state. In the 2022-2023 academic year, the college served over 5,300 dual enrollment students from 55 schools in 12 counties in Florida. In its short existence, the College’s enrollment has grown dramatically from 143 courses taken in Fall of 2013, to 1,004 in Fall of 2018, to 4,627 in Fall 2021, and finally 5,569 in Fall 2022.
As enrollment has grown, and student and faculty needs evolved, so has the College’s emphasis on use of technology. Doral College has worked diligently to foster a digital learning ecosystem that connects faculty, staff, and students to enhance learning, collaboration, and community. Over the years, Doral College has continuously adopted and promoted modern learning tools and platforms that ensure digital connectivity and facilitates access to learning. For example, in the summer of 2021, the college migrated to the Canvas Learning Management System (LMS). Canvas is cutting-edge system used by most major colleges and universities in the state. The college also implemented Colēgia, a Single Sign On (SSOL) student portal that provides a hub for student access to email, student records, and courses all via one login.
A History of Dual Enrollment Associate in Arts Students
The College’s first class included 22 dual enrollment students who graduated with an Associate in Arts Degree in May 2014. Since then, classes have only grown with the most recent including 350 students from across the state. To date, nearly all graduates have been accepted to and gone on to attend four-year institutions, many of which are considered some of the most prestigious in the country. DC alumni can be found on the campuses of Harvard University, the University of Chicago, New York University, Cornell University, the University of Florida, the University of Miami, Florida International University, Stanford University, and MIT, to name a few.
During campus closures brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic during Fall 2020, 99% of enrollments were delivered via online and hybrid delivery methods and approximately 85% of the Doral College Catalog is available fully online.
New Populations, the BSED, and Teacher Development Programs
In recent years, Doral College has grown to welcome new populations, including non-dual enrollment students. Coined “undergraduate” to distinguish them from the college’s usual population of high school students, this group of students is varied and unique in its own way. Many are recent high school graduates who took dual enrollment courses with Doral College and are enrolling as Guest Students, seeking to transfer credit back to other schools throughout the state. Others are non-traditional students who deferred college to enter the workforce and are enrolled in the College’s Associate in Arts program. In all cases, Doral College’s flexible, personalized approach and online offerings make it possible for these students to benefit from their studies much in the same way as their dual enrollment counterparts. An affordable tuition rate also helps motivate them to find the means to take the leap and further their education.
The College has also begun important new initiatives in the area of teacher development. For example, the college’s first four-year degree, a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, welcomed its first students in Fall 2020. This degree includes endorsements in ESOL and Reading and is an approved teacher licensure program in the state of Florida. The college expects this program will meet an urgent need in its community for motivated, qualified teachers.
Other initiatives in teacher development include offering state-approved coursework toward the Reading, ESOL, and Gifted endorsements. In addition, a state-approved Educator Preparation Institute (EPI) Program launched in Fall 2022. The EPI provides an alternate pathway to teacher certification for individuals with a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in non-education field.
Accreditation & Licensing
Doral College received licensure from the Florida Commission on Independent Education (CIE) in 2011. Doral College is also accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), having received initial accreditation in 2018 and reaccreditation in 2021. DEAC is listed by the U.S. Department of Education as a recognized accrediting agency. The Distance Education Accrediting Commission is also recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
Doral College is approved by the state of Florida to participate in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA). NC-SARA centralizes the authorization process for each institution in a single state called the institution’s “home state.” Colleges or universities in a SARA state therefore only need their home state authorization to offer distance education to any other SARA member state.
The college has all courses approved by the Florida Statewide Course Numbering System (SCNS), which facilitates transferability among member schools, including all public colleges and universities in the state, as well as private schools like DC, which have elected to participate. Currently, all Doral College courses are approved through this system.
Administration & Location
The first president of Doral College, who served from its inception until July of 2015, was Anitere Flores. The second president, Douglas Rodriguez, served until 2021 and was followed by current president Judith C. Marty.
Doral College is located in the city of Doral within Miami-Dade County, at Doral Hall, which is located at 2525 NW 112 Avenue, Doral, FL 33172. Doral Hall is located on the 11-acre campus of Doral Academy Charter High School, and houses the College’s classrooms, labs, and administrative offices.