Dual enrollment offers learners opportunity to earn high school and college credits--simultaneously--before graduating from high school.
It's a great option for some students.
But, it isn't the best option for all students.
Yes, sign me up! (the Pros)
- Free or reduced tuition for college-level courses.
- Experience campus life.
- Offers student opportunity to learn course content in the student's area of interest.
- Student's enrolled get to learn what goes into completing college work.
- Allows colleges and universities to validate a student ready and capable of handling college-level material.
- May improve a student's weighted GPA.
- May equate to graduating from college early.
- Evaluation (grade and credit) based on the entire course, not on single test performance.
Not so fast! (the Cons)
- While there's money to save, there may not be savings in the long run. Be sure to research what courses are needed for a degree and if credits will transfer.
- Not all learners are ready to walk on campus alongside older students. Perhaps, inquire about online options.
- Not all admission advisors are versed in the prerequisites for specific college majors, hence some courses may be taken and "wasted". Parents should stand ready to know the requirements of a learner's four-year degree (or possible majors) and double check advisor guidance.
- Not all credits may be accepted; some courses in the major area may be required to be completed where degree will be earned. Check transfer policies like this one for UNF.
- Excess hours may be costly.
- Some colleges won't accept all dual enrolled courses. Research and ask questions to avoid unnecessary surprises.
- Grades earned become part of a permanent college transcript.
Some of the biggest mistakes we have seen families make are:
Not knowing degree requirements. We know students who weren't sure of future major take an introductory science course (generally without a lab and worth three college credits)--Introduction to Biological Sciences, for example--thinking it would be easier, only to find out once the major was declared the lab science was required. The student sat through another science--Biology in most of the cases we know--again.
Starting dual enrollment too early. It is wise that parents remember DE grades become a permanent part of the college transcript. We personally know quite a few families wishing they had waited to dual enroll their students--especially for foreign language--because doing so compromised their learner's GPA. And, in some cases, being on the President's list (with a 4.0) each semester of the AA has earned students merit scholarship when transferring to an institution to complete the Bachelor's.
For example, several young adults we mentor through annual evaluations decided to complete foreign language credit through dual enrollment. Each of them soared through the first semester, each earning an A. However, the second semester the students didn't fair as well because of the difficulty of the content. In the majority of those learners earned a C, compromising their overall college GPA.
When our learners hit the high school years, we discussed accelerated credit options with each student. Each had different options to consider due to their varied after high school plans. For our learner who did dual enroll, I am thankful we did not consider foreign language as part of his dual enrollment plans. Why? At the end of earning 60+ hours for his AA, the university to which he was transferring offered him scholarship monies because he transferred to complete his Bachelor's with a 4.0 GPA--hence earning a spot on the President's list every semester. Could he have gotten A's in his foreign language classes at the state college? Possibly. Yet, thankfully we didn't take that gamble.
If you are a Florida resident, consider this comparison of accelerated learning.
Parents looking for additional research may want to refer to this article by The National Center for Postsecondary Research.
The decision to dual enroll should not be taken lightly. Each learner is unique in ability and maturity. In addition, some students find it more beneficial to focus their high school years in other directions--perhaps theater, entrepreneurship, or sports. Other learners will need the boost dual enrollment can provide. Dual enrollment is an individual family and learner decision and is worth every moment of research, questioning, and considering.
YOU can celebrate high school by building and executing a plan unique to the individual learner.
Just one more reason why
EVERY. MOMENT. MATTERS.
even in the high school years!