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The Pro and Cons of Dual Enrollment at Your High School and College

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What about Dual Enrollment?

High school juniors who have completed the majority of their academic requirements for graduation may consider a dual enrollment plan for their senior year.  By taking dual-enrollment classes, students can study at a local college and, in many cases, earn college credit for those courses.

Earning college credit while still in high school can be appealing.  By taking these classes, students also get an idea of what college study will be like, which is dramatically different than high school.

But dual enrollment may not be right for everyone. Things to consider:

  • With dual enrollment, students can become familiar with what college course work is actually like, allowing them to become use to the academic environment.
  • Courses may be offered that aren’t available at the student’s high school.
  • Students can have a closer look at their area of interest which will help the student to more specifically focus their academic major.
  • Most students will change a college major at least once.  Having a college level class while still in high school may help the student prepare and plan before a major actually has to be declared.
  • Dual enrollment may help if the student was unable to take AP course either because they did not qualify or because the courses were not offered at their school.
  • Students don’t necessarily have to travel to the college campus for dual enrollment. Many schools offer virtual or online courses.  The high school guidance counselor will help find the best dual enrollment options in your particular area.
  • There’s a lot to be said for accumulating college level credits before the student even graduates from high school.

Are there reasons not to try dual enrollment?

  • Dual enrollment may not make sense if the same course is already being offered at the student’s high school.  If the college course isn’t more in depth or of more value than what is already being offered at the high school level, there’s no real benefit.
  • Dual enrollment shouldn’t conflict with regular classes or extracurricular activities.  It may look great on a resume, but there has to be a balance when the dual enrollment class might squeeze out something that’s also important.  It can also be tricky when the high school and college don’t use the same academic calendar.
  • Choose dual enrollment courses wisely.  A course in watercolors might be fascinating, but isn’t necessarily going to enhance the resume of a student entering into pre-law.
  • Dual enrollment courses will factor into the college GPA.  The student should be ready for demanding classes and coursework.  Don’t risk dragging down a college GPA just because dual enrollment seems like a novel idea.
  • Failing a dual enrollment course may mean the student doesn’t graduate on time from high school.
  • Know the value of the credits offered for the dual enrollment class. This may vary from school to school.

Where to begin?

  • Know the rules for dual enrollment for your state and for the college the student hopes to attend.
  • Usually students have to be at least 16 years old to participate in dual enrollment with a GPA of at least 2.5.
  • Students may have to take placement tests to participate in dual enrollment.
  • Students will need parental permission as well as that of the school guidance counselor and/or principal.
  • Know the finances ahead of time.  Some states pay for dual enrollment. Some states require the student to pay.


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