Experience College Classes Before You Cross The Stage
IF YOU’RE LOOKING TO GET YOUR FEET WET with college-level work you may not have to wait until you graduate. More than 80% of colleges now offer ways for high school students to earn college credit while still in high school.
The most common type of program dual enrollment comes in many forms but typically provides classes either at your high school at a community college or university or online. These classes meet the requirements to allow you to earn high school and college credit.
For example at Clarion College (PA) the dual enrollment program provides an opportunity for students to take college courses and high school courses at the same time. The college credits count toward both high school graduation and your college transcript. At Clarion classes are taken at one of the college’s campuses. The University of Oregon’s dual enrollment program allows students to attend classes at the university or at one of two local community colleges.
Many states have passed laws encouraging dual enrollment by requiring that high schools notify students of its availability and grant high school credit (in addition to college credit) for students who take the college courses. In Michigan the high school district may even have to pay for the cost of the course! For example under Michigan State University’s (MSU) “GATE” program (Gifted and Talented Education) students in 11th and 12th grade can take courses at MSU that count toward high school and college credit and the cost is paid by the high school district. Of course every state and college is different so check on the eligibility criteria and cost before applying.
Some states now have special accelerated high schools designed for dual enrollment. These programs are for students ready to take on a heavier load of college-level work. For example Florida Atlantic University (FAU) hosts a program called FAU High School where top students can take actual college classes and receive simultaneous high school credit and college course hours.
To be accepted into a dual enrollment program you may need to have a minimum GPA and/or achieve a certain score on the SAT ACT or other standardized tests.
Like most decisions there are pros and cons to dual enrollment. While you have the advantage of getting a jump-start on college and earning credits at the same time college courses can be rigorous and there may be extra cost and some inconvenience in traveling to the class.
The other thing to consider is whether your time is better spent taking AP courses particularly if the dual enrollment courses are provided at a community college. While you don’t get college credit for AP courses you can take the AP exams to get college credits. The AP exams are standardized so the credits are more likely to be accepted than those from a community college course. In addition a good grade in an AP course may be given greater weight by colleges than a grade from a community college course that isn’t as well known.
To find out about dual enrollment opportunities check out colleges in your area. You can also contact your guidance counselor to see which dual enrollment programs are offered at your high school.