Taking College Classes in High School (Dual Enrollment)
Last updated August 17, 2023
Looking to be more academically challenged in high school while saving time and money on a college education? A dual enrollment program may be right for you! Here are some important things to know about dual enrollment programs.
What are dual enrollment programs? How do they work?
Dual enrollment programs allow high school students to take college classes. They’re typically offered through local community colleges, and classes are taught either online or in person. High school students can typically begin a dual enrollment program during their junior year. This allows them to complete two years worth of college credits, so that in addition to receiving their high school diploma, they will also receive their associate degree. When a student has an associate degree, they typically have already completed anywhere from 60-90 college credits. These credits can usually transfer to a four-year college, meaning that a dual enrollment student will only have around two years of college credits left to complete upon transferring.
If you’re considering dual enrollment, you will need to have a conversation with your guidance counselor to make sure that your high school course load won’t be affected, and that you can successfully manage all of your classes. It’s also important to be aware of your financial aid options, as eligibility for loans, FAFSA, and scholarships may be limited.
Is dual enrollment a good choice for me?
When making any college decision, it’s important to talk to a trusted adult and your high school counselor. They can help you explore your options and make an informed decision that works best for you. With this in mind, here are some pros and cons of dual enrollment programs:
- Cut down on college costs. Overall, dual enrollment programs can help high school students save a significant amount of money on college, since many programs are offered through community colleges, which typically have much lower tuition costs than four-year colleges. A dual enrollment student will typically only have to pay for two years of a four-year college’s tuition, rather than four.
- Get a feel for college-level coursework early. Since dual enrollment students are taking college classes, they can get a feel for what they’re like earlier than most high school students. This may help students have a smoother transition to a four-year college since they know what to expect academically.
- Finish college earlier. Dual enrollment students can typically graduate during their sophomore year of college rather than senior year, since they already completed two years of college during high school.
- Earn an associate degree and begin working. If transferring to a four-year college after receiving an associate degree doesn’t align with a student’s academic or career goals, they can enter the workforce earlier than most students, beginning to pave the way toward their career.
- The possibility of falling behind in high school classes. In keeping up with the academic demand of college classes, a student in a dual enrollment program may find that balancing them with high school classes could cause them to fall behind.
- Credits may not transfer. Because different colleges have different credit requirements, a dual enrollment student may find that the four-year college they want to transfer to might not accept some or all of their credits. This means that they will have to spend more time and money in college than they had anticipated.
- Less free time. Taking both high school and college classes may mean that you’re spending more time studying and doing homework than most other high school students. This can leave you less free time to spend with your loved ones or participating in extracurricular activities.
Where to find dual enrollment programs
Talk to your school counselor about dual enrollment programs near you. They can help point you in the right direction to start the process of learning more and enrolling. Additionally, some colleges across the country offer online dual enrollment programs, such as:
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