Dual enrollment allows high school students to take college courses for both high school and college credit. These courses can be completed at a high school, on a college campus, or online, and are taught by either high school teachers or college faculty.
How Does Dual Enrollment Work?
Students that are eligible for dual enrollment will have the opportunity to sign up for classes. If a student is curious about whether dual enrollment is right for them, they should set up an appointment with their school counselor.
Typically, these college level courses are introductory, enabling students to eliminate the need to take some general education courses once they arrive on campus. Available courses may be Humanities, English, Math, Social Studies, and Science.
Once enrolled in a dual enrollment course, students must attend class, complete coursework, and earn a qualifying grade to receive credit. That college credit can then only be used at an institution that has a dual enrollment agreement with the high school.
Typically, these are in-state universities, community colleges, or colleges that are local to the high school. There is nothing prohibiting students from taking dual enrollment classes who are unsure of their college plans after high school graduation. Though they may not be able to transfer the dual enrollment credit to the college they decide to attend, these courses are still great practice for collegiate-level academics.
What Are Dual Enrollment Requirements?
Many states and schools have minimum requirements to be eligible to take dual enrollment courses. Though they vary school by school or state by state, there are general guidelines that most of these courses fall under.
Most states require that a student be a high school junior or senior to take dual enrollment courses. They may also need a minimum GPA or SAT/Act score or be on a specific graduation track at their high school.
Parent permission is typically required, as is a recommendation from a teacher, school counselor, or school administrator.
Benefits of Dual Enrollment
Before deciding to enroll in dual credit courses, students should weigh both the pros and cons.
Saves Money. Dual enrollment classes often come at a discounted rate, sometimes even costing $0. This helps students save a great deal on college costs. Students that need financial assistance may find help through state-funded grants.
According to Education Data, the three-credit-hour cost for students attending an in-state public college is $1,170. Considering the same course at the dual enrollment level costs half the traditional cost, students and their families can substantially save on college tuition via dual enrollment programs.
Shortens Time in College. Depending on the number of courses taken, students may be able to shorten their time in college and graduate sooner. Doing so will save them tuition costs as well as room and board.
529 Plan. Because dual enrollment courses count for college credit, savings from a 529 Plan can be used to help cover the cost of the class(es). These funds, however, cannot be used for textbooks and supplies.
Degree Completion. A study from Columbia University found that 88% of students that completed dual enrollment courses in high school enrolled in college between the ages of 18 and 20. Additionally, 64% of those students graduated within five years.
Drawbacks of Dual Enrollment
Just like there are pros to taking dual enrollment courses, there are also cons that students should consider.
Credit Transferability. These college credits only transfer to specific institutions. If a student has plans to utilize dual enrollment courses to cut college costs, they should only apply to schools that will accept the credit.
Accessibility. Dual credit courses may only be offered on a college campus or online. Students need to determine whether they have the means to attend class, physically or virtually. This may require a car, a bus pass, or a reliable Internet connection.
Difficulty. Finally, students need to ensure that they can balance the college-level difficulty of dual credit classes with their current course load. These classes may require more reading as well as papers and exams. Time management is vital in taking these courses, as students navigate the coursework with their high school classes and extracurricular activities. If a student believes that they could qualify for dual enrollment courses, they should schedule an appointment to discuss options with their school counselor. During this meeting, the school counselor can discuss preparedness, cost, and transferring college credits after graduation.