What is Dual Enrollment?
Dual enrollment is generally defined as a high school student taking a college class and simultaneously receiving college credit and high school credit. This may also be referred to as concurrent enrollment, but some argue that dual and concurrent enrollment are not the same.
Arizona State University specifies that dual enrollment is enrollment in a community college class while concurrent enrollment is enrollment in a “major university.” ASU makes a valid argument, but they are also selling a product (enrollment at ASU).
The National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP) defines concurrent enrollment as college-level courses that are taught in high school by high school teachers.
Classical Conversations also differentiates between dual and concurrent enrollment through their Classical Conversation Plus College Credit Program.
I bring this up not to confuse the matter but to help you realize that the circle of people that you talk about this with may determine the terminology that is used. For the purpose of this article, I will use the phrase Dual Enrollment to encompass both.
Dual Enrollment Logistics
Dual enrollment can involve a local community college, a local college or university, or even a university thousands of miles away. Traditionally dual enrollment is done through a partnership with the local community college, but homeschool students have more flexibility and options based on what their goals are. A student who wants to utilize dual enrollment to earn an Associate Degree by the time they graduate from high school will have a completely different plan from the dual enrollment students who simply desires to take fewer introductory courses during their first year of college.
Dual enrollment requirements differ from state to state including age, grade level, grade point average, Accuplacer/ACT/SAT score, etc. Below are two resources for finding options and requirements in your state.
It is important to do your research and have a strategy in place before enrollment. Dual enrollment courses are college courses and the grades (and withdrawals) become a part of the student’s college transcript.
Advantages of Dual Enrollment
Early start to college
This may seem fairly obvious but dual enrollment allows students to earn college credits (that also count towards a high school diploma) while still in high school. It is possible for high school students to earn an Associate Degree or Professional Designation/Certification.
Reduces the time needed to earn a college degree after high school
Taking college classes while in high school will reduce the number of credits needed to earn a degree once enrolled as a full-time college student. This can allow for earlier graduation or the flexibility to take fewer credit hours each semester.
College credits acquired in a dual enrollment program are often transferable to other colleges or universities
Become College Ready
Dual Enrollment courses are great preparation for the higher demands of the first year of full-time college. There is an argument to be made that AP courses can be more academically rigorous than introductory-level courses at a community college. Even if that is true, dual enrollment prepares high school students for college in ways that AP cannot.
- Interaction with a college professor who most likely treats all students as adults
- Adherence to the rules of a college class (no late work, specific due dates, etc.)
- Self-management - being responsible for dissecting a syllabus and creating a personal schedule
- Acclimating to the college environment
Clubs and Events
Dual Enrollment allows students to take advantage of the special interest and social activities on the college campus as well as live events such as plays and concerts.
Downside to Dual Enrollment?
Dual enrollment generally does not allow parents to remain a student’s primary mentor and teacher while the student earns college credit. For some parents of high school students that ship has sailed long ago - but for those whom this presents a serious issue, programs like the Classical Conversations Plus College Credit Program offer a satisfactory solution.
Dual enrollment courses stay on a student’s college transcript. Subpar grades and withdrawals can negatively impact future college admission at the undergraduate & graduate levels.
Not all dual enrollment credits transfer the same. It is important to research ahead of time and to connect with an academic advisor at the dual enrollment college. Their knowledge of the credit transfer rules will prove invaluable.
It is possible to earn enough dual enrollment credits during high school to be considered a transfer student rather than an incoming freshman after high school graduation. This may be the goal for some, but for others it can impact admissions and scholarship eligibility.
Dual enrollment is a great way for homeschool high school students to get a jump start on college and experience the challenge and accountability of a college classroom. It is important to devise a “college credit strategy” at the beginning and start with the end in mind.
What is your main purpose for dual enrollment and what do you hope to gain? Is the goal to earn as many credits as possible (possibly culminating with an associate degree) or to simply bypass a few introductory courses during your first year of full-time college?
Dual enrollment is challenging, but utilizing it effectively offers students the opportunity to earn considerable college credit in high school and can save tens of thousands of dollars in future college tuition.
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