To many students, high school is a time of social development. They involve themselves in sports or clubs, attend dances and, at some point, learn the skills necessary to survive in our ever-evolving culture. For some, the opportunities presented in high school help them prepare for the college experience where they will learn their trade or craft. It is these students, the ones driven to excel, who often enroll in college-level courses while still in high school.
The advantages of dual enrollment are many. Students are given an opportunity to challenge themselves by taking courses for which they receive college credit. They realize they’ve worked hard for years and their studiousness affords them the opportunity to take college courses for free (in some cases) and save a significant amount of money on tuition they would later have to pay. This, I find, is a significant motivator among today’s students. With soaring tuition costs, early enrollment allows them to take courses at a fraction of the cost and may, in may cases, eliminate entire semesters from their college experience.
Another benefit is the advanced level of work required for success. The students who partake of the dual enrollment are often more gifted and frequently feel as though they’re being held back by an education system designed to encourage mediocrity rather than excellence. As dual students, they are able to meet state requirements for graduation while being faced with more difficult and advanced material. They find the challenge worth their time and are frequently more dedicated to their studies because they’ve come to realize they can no longer glide through the system with a minimum amount of effort.
Additionally, students previously labeled as the nerds and geeks are now being seen in a different which boosts their self esteem. They are surrounded by like minded classmates also driven to excel. The stigma associated with intelligence seems to lessen when people learn these kids are taking college courses. Faculty members see these students in a different light as well, realizing they are now able to have the more sophisticated discussions they once had to ignore because the general populace would find them difficult to follow.
While all of these factors affect the students, it has been my experience that, for most, the cost is the primary factor. College is an expensive endeavor and any opportunity to save money in the long run is of significant import. But…getting ahead in today’s world isn’t just about money. It’s about securing a position in the world one can be proud of and most of the students who participate in dual enrollment are laying the foundation for just that…success.