The Pros and Cons of Dual Enrollment


Aug   2014



Many students are unaware that there’s a way to earn college credit while they’re still in high school. Dual enrollment programs allow high school students to take courses at a local institution of higher education, such as a community college. Similarly, concurrent enrollment is a type of dual enrollment in which students take college-credit-bearing courses taught by college-approved high school teachers.  Both models give students the opportunity to earn college credit before they officially begin college.

If you like the idea of getting a head start on your college education, a dual or concurrent enrollment program may be right for you—but it’s important to weigh your options. Here are a few of the pros and cons you should consider before making your decision:

The pros

  • The per-credit-hour cost of a dual enrollment program is often far less than what you’ll pay once you’re in college (and some concurrent enrollment programs may cost you nothing at all), potentially saving you thousands of dollars in tuition.
  • You can get a first-hand idea of what’s required of full-time college course work.
  • If you participate in a dual enrollment program at a local college, you’ll get to experience what campus life is like, which can help ease your transition from high school to life on your own.
  • If your school doesn’t offer AP courses or you weren’t able to take any, participating in a dual enrollment program can show the colleges to which you apply that you’re capable of challenging course work and taking initiative. It can also replace the credit you might have earned through AP exams.
  • Some dual enrollment courses are available online, eliminating the need for you to drive from your high school to another campus.
  • Taking a few college courses can help you home in on the major that’s right for you.
  • Earning college credit while you’re in high school can help ensure that you’ll graduate from college on time—if not early.

The cons

  • If you already have a busy, stressful schedule, the additional requirements of a dual enrollment program could cause your grades to suffer and defeat its own purpose.
  • The courses you take in a dual enrollment program are real college courses—meaning they’ll go on your transcript and stay there forever—so you need to feel fairly confident that you’ll be able to do well.
  • Some schools may not accept all—or any—of the credits you’ve earned through a dual enrollment program. Be sure to contact the college you’ll be attending (or the colleges to which you are applying) and ask about their policies.
  • Some basic college courses might actually be less rigorous than AP courses, so it may be best to take the class that your school offers (if it's available). For example, an admission officer may look at your transcript and wonder why you chose to take an introductory biology course at your local community college rather than taking the AP biology course offered at your high school.

Colleges and universities with dual enrollment programs

Think a dual enrolment program might be right for you? Talk it over with your parents, ask your guidance counselor if your high school has a program in place, and check out this list of a few of the many colleges and universities that offer dual enrollment:

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