dual enrollment

Dual enrollment is an option for high school students, primarily juniors and seniors, who are interested in taking college courses in addition to high school classes. By enrolling in two separate institutions, students have the opportunity to earn credits that will count towards achieving both a high school diploma and a college degree. Sounds great, doesn’t it? But like all things that seem too be good to be true, dual enrollment also has its downfalls.

Making a decision that’s right for both parent and child is important, especially when that decision pertains to one’s future career. So, it’s necessary to view both the good and bad sides to dual enrollment before diving in.

Here are some pros and cons to the dual enrollment program for high school students.

Pro: Dual enrollment can help ensure on-time or early college graduation.
By enrolling in college courses while still in high school, students can get a head start on their college careers as they continue to work towards earning their high school diploma. Talk about getting two jobs done at once! In doing this, students will be checking off classes as they get ahead of peers opting for a more traditional college experience.

Con: Taking college courses along with high school courses can bring added stress.
The pace and intensity level of college classes are much different than those in high school, which means jumping into college can be a real shock. Despite preparedness, students may still find themselves getting behind in addition to juggling more stress than anticipated.

Pro: Dual enrollment can provide students the opportunity to ease into college and familiarize themselves with the course load before enrolling full-time.
College students are more often enrolled full-time than not. This means that most college freshmen will enter an institution with a course load of around 12 to 15 credit hours with little to no time to transition from high school. However, dual enrollment allows students adequate time to make that adjustment. While it may be stressful and possibly more than what was bargained for, taking college classes in high school can help students properly adjust to a faster paced, less persistent environment. Also, dual enrollment classes may demonstrate the student’s ability to handle challenging course work and potentially increase one’s chances of being accepted into college.

Con: Some colleges may not accept dual enrollment credits.
Just as some universities will not accept credits from technical schools, some colleges may not accept dual enrollment credits. The best thing to do is contact those colleges of interest and ask about dual enrollment credits to ensure that they will count towards a future degree.

Pro: The cost of classes may be cheaper through the dual enrollment program as opposed to taking the same courses as a college student.
Taking college classes as a high school student can significantly lower the cost of the courses, and in some cases the cost may even be diminished. This can significantly help parents and students. Otherwise, taking the courses in college would add onto tuition fees, which could rack up to be several hundreds or thousands of extra dollars.

Con: Dual enrollment courses may not be as comprehensive as advanced placement (AP) classes offered at high schools.
A majority of dual enrollment classes offered will likely be basic core classes whereas AP classes may offer the same course but to a more extensive degree. It would be like comparing Introduction to Literature to American Literature, an introductory-level course to one that has a set focus and studies the material in depth. Ultimately, the latter option is going to look more impressive to college admissions.

Pro: Dual enrollment offers the opportunity to take classes that may not be available in high school.
Perhaps AP classes aren’t offered. Dual enrollment give students the opportunity to take courses that aren’t available at their high school. Colleges often have electives covering a wide variety of subjects that will count towards nearly any degree.

Con: If not taken seriously, dual enrollment courses can cause grades to suffer either in college, high school, or both.
Professors are unlike high school teachers, who will push students to succeed. It’s not that professors want to see pupils fail, but they will not waste any time with those who don’t care. College is an option for students who want to be there whereas high school is mandatory. Therefore, students must understand that if they don’t put an adequate amount of effort into college, they will easily fall behind. Dual enrollment courses should not be taken lightly.

Pro: Dual enrollment courses may be offered online.
For some students, online classes can be beneficial as they can earn the credits while remaining in the comfort of their homes. Also, online classes allow for students to participate in college courses that may otherwise be a long drive or be inconvenient to one’s high school schedule.

Con/Pro: Dual enrollment classes are real college courses that will appear on students’ college transcripts.
This can be either a con or pro, depending on the type of student. Again, courses taken in the dual enrollment program are real courses. They will affect one’s college GPA. They will affect one’s college career. So, they should only be taken by those who are truly motivated and dedicated to keeping up with the course work and aiming for the grades they wish to receive.

Pro: Dual enrollment courses can help students decide on a major.
One of the hardest decisions students have to make is in which subject they would like to study and eventually earn a degree. This can pack on a lot of pressure for high school students as college approaches. Due to this, they may end up choosing a field without putting in the proper thought and research and later regret the decision or change majors. Since colleges offer a plethora of subjects, dual enrollment can be a good option for those students who wish to explore different studies before making the decision.

Although dual enrollment may not be for everyone, it can be helpful to those whom wish to try out the program. If possible, speak to peers who have participated in dual enrollment courses. They can give you firsthand experiences to assist in the decision making process.
One student, who studied at Moultrie Technical College (now known as Southern Regional Technical College) while attending Berrien High School during her senior year, had this to say: “I chose to start off with just one class, and it was a computer class. It helped me get used to being in a different school environment. It also saved money and time.”

Still interested? More resources are available for students at their high schools. Counselors can help answer any questions, discuss the requirements for dual enrollment, and get the process moving toward the next step.

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Leah Morton
Leah is an undergraduate student studying English and journalism at Valdosta State University. She has worked on one of the university’s annual publications, Odradek, as a social media editor and plans on returning as the poetry editor for the next edition. Her plans after graduation include building a career in writing and editing. Leah also has an Associate of Applied Science degree in Early Childhood Care & Education, received from Southern Regional Technical College.

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