Dual enrollment, or post-secondary options, is an opportunity for high school students to take university-level courses at a college or university and earn both college and high school credit. There are numerous advantages to participating in a dual enrollment program, but it also has its share of drawbacks.
One of the biggest and most obvious benefits to dual enrollment is free college classes. The only cost normally incurred during the program is that of transportation to and from the university. Some schools may even have transportation available for students, or offer online courses in order to eliminate that expense.
Parents of high school students are all too aware of the price tag that comes along with a college education; having a student who can take college courses while still in high school can be a huge boon to both a parent’s wallet and a student’s education. Being able to take basic courses will enable students to engage in their major quickly once they reach college, as well as save hundreds of dollars in class and textbook fees. However, some colleges may not accept dual enrollment credits, and switching from a semester to a quarter system can impact the number of credits that transfer.
Another incredible benefit of dual enrollment is the experience that students gain. To go from a high school setting to a college setting is an immense transition: at high school, classes are rigidly scheduled and a good number of students are bored or unwilling to participate. In college, the class may one meet two or three times a week, and the majority of students are passionately interested in the subject. Having a class where fellow students are truly interested in the subject and motivated to do well is a hugely beneficial look at college life.
Being in an actual college setting will also help prepare students for what college is really like. Many high school teachers are fond of saying that college professors aren’t as available and willing to help as they are, and the work is much harder after high school. That is not always true: many colleges and universities mandate that professors have set office hours for students to meet with them, and professors are very accessible via e-mail if students have questions.
The work load in a college class is about equal to an honors or Advanced Placement class, because students begin by taking introductory courses. Universities require that dual enrollment students follow the same class track as college students so that students don’t attempt to take specialized classes for which they are not prepared. High school guidance counselors will also work with students to ensure that they can handle the class requirements.
Dual enrollment is an amazing motivator for students as well. Most high schools require a minimum grade point average at both the high school and eventually the university in order to participate in the program. By shouldering this extra workload and managing the responsibility they have for their grades, students make themselves much more attractive to the colleges and universities they are interested in attending after high school.
Enrollment at a university also offers special short-term benefits for a high school student. They are often able to get into concerts and plays for free, as well as lectures given by visiting professors or field experts. Local stores and coffee shops often offer discounts and specials for university students with an ID card, as well.
One thing almost all high school students enjoy is getting out of school early. Depending on the amount of college and high school classes taken, dual enrollment students may have the ability to start their school day later or end it earlier. While this might seem like a recipe for trouble, most students who take advantage of the program are very involved in extra-curriculars, sports and/or a job. Having an extra hour or so that they don’t spend in school can make all the difference in managing a heavier workload.
From free college classes to free concerts, dual enrollment offers a plethora of benefits to those students who are willing to take on the challenge. The lessons learned in the courses, both the subject material and the ability to manage a college workload, are lessons that will remain with students long after the classes themselves are finished. Although there are a few drawbacks to dual enrollment, such as a bad professor or a too-heavy workload, the pros far outweigh the cons. In a time where more and more students are attending college, the cost is rising and the admissions process is becoming increasingly competitive, dual enrollment provides students with an invaluable stepping stone towards college.