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What Is Dual Enrollment in High School?

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    So, what does dual enrollment mean? And is dual enrollment in high school the same thing as dual enrollment in college? Dual enrollment in high school is when students enroll in college classes that count for both high school and college credit. Generally, dual credit classes are taken by high school juniors and seniors, although requirements vary by state.

    Unlike AP classes, students do not need to pass a final exam to receive college credit. Rather, they just need to earn a C or better in the class. Dual enrollment classes, also known as dual credit classes, run for one semester and are often taught on nearby college campuses by college professors, although these classes can also be offered at students’ high schools or online.

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    Pros and cons of dual enrollment

    At this point, you likely have a lot of questions about dual enrollment in high school, including: Is dual enrollment hard? What does dual enrollment do? And what is a dual enrollment student?

    In this section, we’ll review some of the pros and cons of dual enrollment so you can make well-informed decisions moving forward. You’ll also want to schedule a meeting with your high school guidance counselor to discuss the possibility of dual enrollment, as well as the importance of course rigor.

    Pros of dual enrollment

    So, let’s start with some of the advantages of dual enrollment, also known as concurrent enrollment, in high school. Then we’ll take a look at some of the potential disadvantages.

    1. Dual enrollment classes are much cheaper than college courses. This means that you’ll have the potential to save a lot of money! Credits can be transferred to bachelor’s degrees, associate’s degrees, and career/technical education certificates.
    2. With the help of dual enrollment courses, students may be able to graduate early or pursue a double major.
    3. Students don’t need to take a final exam to earn college credit (like they have to do with AP classes). They just need to earn a C or higher.
    4. College classes are much more diverse than high school classes. This means students can explore subjects they wouldn’t be able to otherwise.
    5. Students can start exploring potential college majors while they’re still in high school.
    6. Students will be given the opportunity to start adjusting to college-level classes while they’re still in high school. This can have a big impact on their overall level of college preparation.
    7. Dual enrollment classes are rigorous courses that look good on college applications. Students can also ask their dual enrollment teachers, who are often professors, for a college letter of recommendation.

    Cons of dual enrollment

    Now that we’ve explored some of the advantages of dual enrollment, let’s review some of the potential disadvantages of taking a dual enrollment course in high school:

    1. Some dual enrollment classes may be offered online or at the student’s high school. Other dual enrollment classes, however, may be taught at a nearby college. This means that transportation may be a deciding factor for students, especially if their high school does not provide transportation.
    2. Not all colleges accept dual enrollment credits. If you know where you’d like to attend, reach out to learn more about their dual enrollment policies. In general, in-state public schools are more likely to accept dual enrollment credits than private schools or out-of-state public schools.
    3. Your final grade will be listed on both your high school and your college transcripts. So only sign up for dual credit classes in subjects you are confident in! After all, you don’t want a bad grade following you to college.
    4. Dual enrollment classes are rigorous but not quite as rigorous as AP classes.
    5. Some high schools do not weigh dual enrollment classes the same way they do for honors and AP classes when calculating high school GPA.
    6. While dual enrollment classes are less expensive than college credits, their price points do range. While some classes may be free, others may cost up to $400.

    Differences between dual enrollment and AP classes

    So, what are the differences between dual enrollment and AP classes? And which looks better on a college application? Check out the table below for some key comparisons!

    Dual Enrollment AP Classes
    Classes are only one semester Classes are a full year
    Students need to earn a C or better Students need to pass a final exam
    Final grades on both high school and college transcripts Final grades only on high school transcripts
    College professors primarily teach these classes High school teachers teach these classes
    Classes vary in price, from 0-400 dollars AP exams cost $95
    Courses may be offered online, at a nearby college, or at the student's high school Classes may be offered online or at the student's high school
    Students are often limited to 1-2 dual enrollment classes per semester Students may be eligible to take more AP classes

    Now that we’ve compared dual credit and AP classes, you may be interested in learning more about the differences between IB, AICE, and AP classes. Dual enrollment, AP, AICE, and IB classes are all advanced high school courses, but there are key differences between them that you’ll want to familiarize yourself with. After all, it’s important to understand your options thoroughly!

    You’ll also want to look into taking one or several College Level Examination Program (CLEP) exams. These exams allow you to earn college credit based on what you already know and don’t require you to be enrolled in an accompanying class.

    Key takeaways and moving forward

    It can be difficult to select your class schedule. This is why you should always schedule a meeting with your high school guidance counselor and ask your high school teachers for advice. Additionally, you may be interested in reading our articles, Tips to Picking the Right High School Classes and How Many AP Classes Should You Be Taking?.

    Remember, evidence of course rigor is a key factor in any college application. This is why it’s important to understand your options thoroughly and to make thoughtful decisions moving forward. If you’re a freshman or sophomore, read up on When To Start Planning For College: A Guide. If you’re a junior or senior, check out our College Planning Timeline for 12th Grade Students. Remember, it’s never too early to start planning your future!

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