what is dual enrollment

What Is Dual Enrollment?

Imagine if you could earn college credit while still in high school, and at a fraction of the cost of college tuition — maybe even for free. Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Well, we’re here to tell you that it’s totally not! Dual enrollment programs make it possible for high school students to take college courses and earn credit for them, giving them a major head start on their college plans and future careers.

So, what exactly is dual enrollment and why should you consider it? Tallo is here to spill the tea.

What Is Dual Enrollment?

Dual enrollment (also called concurrent enrollment or dual credit) is a program that provides students the opportunity to enroll in two different academic institutions at once, such as high school and university or community college. By participating in dual enrollment, high school students can take college-level courses and earn credits for both their high school diploma and their college degree.

Dual enrollment classes are frequently taught on a high school campus by a college-approved high school teacher — or, less often, by a college professor on a college campus. Courses can also be taught online, which is usually the most common option for rural schools who may lack resources and proximity to college campuses.

What Are the Benefits of Dual Enrollment?

Dual enrollment offers a slew of benefits, from getting a jumpstart on your college plans to potentially helping you map out your career path. Here are just a few specific advantages of earning dual credit in high school. 

  • Costs Less Than Traditional College – We probably don’t need to tell you that college tuition can be pretty expensive these days. Dual enrollment provides an affordable way to get a head start on your college degree by offering courses at deeply discounted tuition rates. Some dual enrollment classes are even tuition-free!
  • Saves Time and Money – The more college-level courses you can knock out in high school, the less courses you’ll need to take by the time you enroll in college. This can save you a boatload of time and money by reducing your overall time in college.
  • Helps Students Explore Career Options – Not sure what to do after high school? Dual enrollment programs are a great way to explore different careers and get a feel for college-level coursework before committing to the college track. 
  • Challenges High-Achieving Learners Dual enrollment courses can provide engaging and challenging coursework that would otherwise not be available to high-achieving students. In fact, this was the original purpose of dual enrollment when it was first developed in 1955 by the University of Connecticut. 
  • No Exams – Unlike Advanced Placement (AP) tests, dual enrollment programs don’t require students to pass an exam to earn college credit. As long as you earn a passing grade on the course, it counts towards high school and college.

Are There Any Drawbacks?

Potentially. If you’re applying for college scholarships and grants, it’s possible that your dual enrollment may result in you losing out on some financial aid. Specifically, you may no longer be eligible for college scholarships that are earmarked for college freshmen because your dual credit gives you a head start. 

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If you have questions about the effect of dual enrollment on student aid or scholarship packages, talk directly with the college admissions and your school counselor. Even if you lose out on some scholarship dough, the jumpstart that dual enrollment can provide may end up saving you money in the long run.

One more potential drawback we should mention is that universities and colleges don’t universally accept dual credit. If you’re planning to take dual enrollment courses, do your homework before signing up for them.

Who Is Eligible for Dual Enrollment?

OK, quick disclaimer: Eligibility for dual enrollment programs can vary quite a bit by state. If you’re interested in earning dual credit, be sure to search for [Your State + Dual Enrollment] and check out the specific requirements of your state’s program.

But in general, dual enrollment programs are usually offered to high school sophomores, juniors and seniors. (Sorry, freshmen!) Additional eligibility requirements for dual enrollment programs may include being enrolled in public school or a home education program within the district, having a GPA above a certain level, getting a good score on your college entrance exams, and having certain prerequisites for specific courses.

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The Takeaway

Whether you’re an ambitious student who enjoys a challenge or you want to save some dough on college tuition, dual enrollment is an attractive option. With dual enrollment courses, you can earn college credit before you even set foot on a college campus. That being said, dual enrollment can have a few drawbacks as well. Remember to do your research before you enroll, and you’ll be on the fast track to college success.

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