Dual enrollment or dual credit (called College Credit Plus in Ohio) is gaining popularity among high school students. The benefits of dual enrollment are many, and the drawbacks are few. In honor of our 10th year in business, we have prepared another top 10 list—top 10 benefits of dual enrollment.
Not familiar with dual enrollment? It’s a program to allow high school students (or younger) to take real college classes while still enrolled as a high school student. They’re “dually enrolled” in high school and in college.
Top 10 benefits:
1) It’s free.
This one is a biggie! Depending on your state’s rules, it might be free (or significantly discounted). Here in Ohio, families pay nothing as long as the student passes the course. Can’t beat free college credit!
2) Test the college waters.
Understand what will be expected of you in college. How will college be different from high school? Keep in mind though that dual enrollment is not a “lite” version of college! It is not practice. Students must be academically (and otherwise) prepared to be successful.
3) Take a course not offered in your high school.
By participating in dual enrollment, the student can select from a much wider range of college courses than is typically available at the high school, and students can take courses online or over the summer. However, the list of courses available may be restricted in some way. (You can find the short list of courses not allowed under Ohio’s College Credit Plus here.) Students will want to keep in mind the courses they’ll likely need in college (like Intro to English Composition.)
4) Develop a student’s confidence in their abilities.
You’ll discover what a typical general education college course is like, and you may find it easier (or harder) than you expected. A great way to build traction during high school is by taking just one or two college classes via dual enrollment.
5) Get a feel for a college’s culture.
If a dual enrollment student is attending class on a college campus, they are part of that world. Are you eating lunch in the dining hall? What are college students doing in their free time? Students needing accommodations can access a college’s accessibility office. Students get a feel for the culture and that insight can guide their college search going forward.
6) Work on life skills needed for success in college.
Dual enrollment students can be challenged to develop and hone skills like time management, motivation, independence, communication, organization, etc. How do you find help when you need it?
7) Earning credits in high school frees up space in your future college schedule.
Students can enter college with credits “in hand,” and they could graduate early or add in a minor, internship/co-op, study abroad, or certificate.
Dual enrollment can level the playing field for first-generation and diverse students who gain college course experience and financial access they might not otherwise receive.
9) Get on a path to success.
Studies show that dual credit participants “were significantly more likely to obtain a baccalaureate degree (28% to 19%, respectively) than their matched peers who did not participate in dual credit.”
10) Credit is earned based on how well a student does in the entire course.
Did you pass? The earning of college credit is not dependent on one test taken on one day like earning a 3, 4, or 5 on an Advanced Placement (AP) exam in order to earn credit. A grade is earned from normal daily participation and action in the college course over a semester.
10 1/2) Weighted grades.
Lots of maybes to this one, so it gets a “half” a mention. Your high school grade for a dual enrollment course may be weighted (ex., an A is worth a 5.0 vs a 4.0 for a regular course) depending on your state and school district. Colleges may unweight your grades when comparing them to other transcripts. The weighted grade might not matter to a college, but they will take note of the increased rigor of a college course.
- Not all colleges accept transfer credits (dual enrollment or otherwise), but you might be surprised by the number that do. Families are also surprised by the number of out-of-state colleges who will accept the credit as well. On the other hand, there are some colleges won’t accept outside credits no matter how they are earned (even scores from AP exams.) Check a college’s website, Transferology, or Ohio’s Transfer to Degree website.
- Students may have to leave the high school building to take the dual enrollment courses, and they may not want to do that.
- A student may fail. Will the family have to pay for the course? (In Ohio, you will.) How will that grade impact your transcript?
- You may be limited in the number of college credits you can earn each year. (30 in Ohio)
- Be aware of the federal Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) policy. Students must meet SAP guidelines in order to receive financial aid. Credit awarded by a college and earned from dual enrollment is included in SAP. While in college, you need to make good enough grades, and complete enough classes (credits, hours, etc.), to keep moving toward successfully completing your degree or certificate in a time period that’s acceptable to your school. Policies vary by college and may include a maximum time frame allowed like Ohio State’s 150% of required hours to complete an undergraduate degree. Dropping or failing a lot of dual enrollment courses could affect your SAP. Financial aid in our Ohio State example will be limited to 180 credits. (A typical undergraduate degree will be 120 credits.)
Dual enrollment is one tool in your toolbox.
Use it in conjunction with other coursework (AP, IB, academies, electives, career tech, etc.) in a way that will best fit you. It is useful if you plan carefully.
Enjoy this post? Don’t want to miss any future blogs about education, college, or careers?