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Dual Enrollment: Are Online or In-Person Classes Better for You?

High school students interested in dual enrollment might be wondering whether to take a class on a college campus or online. Time to compare and contrast!

Dual enrollment is an amazing opportunity. It allows high school (and even middle school) students to take college classes that will count for both high school and college credit. For those who are interested in dual enrollment, you might be wondering whether it’d be better to take a class on a college campus or online. Here are some basic differences between commuting to a college and staying home to learn from the comfort of your couch or bedroom. 

Flexibility versus structure

Online classes typically allow for the most flexibility. Assignments are usually on a weekly basis, with each course designating which day of the week is your regular submission date. Last year my classes all had discussions due by Thursday and required two additional posts on separate days by Sunday. With online classes, even if some dates are set in stone, you are required to be self-motivated and get things done promptly. For some classes, you may even be able to work ahead. This is a great option for students who want to devote more time to working, volunteering, or sports while also taking college-level courses.

In-person classes typically meet two or three times a week at a specific consistent time. Although you can still complete homework at any time throughout the day, you have to keep in mind when class is so you can be rested and prepared beforehand as well as account for travel time and potential unexpected circumstances. The option of working ahead is more difficult in this setting, as the class is typically expected to progress at the same rate. This will be a little closer to what you’re used to in your high school classes.

Related: How to Take Charge of Your Education in Online Classes

Self-motivated versus class-based learning

Online classes have a variety of independent assignments: quizzes, papers, exercises, presentations, and discussion prompts. Some assignments are group-oriented like discussion boards and occasionally a project, but the majority are to be completed alone. Every class has different requirements and the format of the final varies; some classes have papers, others have presentations, and some do have traditional final exams. Online learning is great for independent, self-motivated students. For students who learn best by hearing from a teacher, online classes may take an adjustment. 

On-campus classes also vary with assignments and final requirements, but you can certainly expect them to be more challenging than most of your high school courses. Being in person allows for more surprises like pop quizzes or assignment deadlines that may not have been specified in the syllabus. With online classes, you pretty much know what’s expected week by week and there isn’t much spontaneity. Classes on campus are great for auditory learners. Being able to hear lectures from professors can help you better understand reading materials and quiz content. And you can get direct and immediate answers to your questions from your professor.

Related: 6 Tips to Transition to Online Learning

Social interaction

With online classes, social interaction typically consists of solely discussion forums or emailing. The online platform is great for students who want to avoid typical classroom distractions or simply aren’t much of a people person. Physical classrooms allow for much more social interaction and engagement with the learning environment t. Being a high school student in class with college students can be intimidating at first, but it’s a great way to meet new people and get an idea of what college will be like when you get there. And imagine if you end up attending that college

Related: How to Get Ahead in High School With Dual Enrollment Credit

Commuting to campus or taking classes online are both great ways to get a jump-start on your college education and challenge yourself in high school. If you’ve already experienced dual enrollment classes, maybe this advice might help you decide to try switching to from online to in-person classes (or vice versa) if you continue with dual enrollment in the future. Whatever you choose, give it your all because it will be a challenge, but one you can meet.

Once you’ve decided how to attend your classes, make sure you read our blog How to Ensure Your Dual Enrollment Credit Transfers to maximize on this opportunity!

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About RaeAnn Jent

RaeAnn Jent

RaeAnn is a Broadcasting and Digital Media major at Cedarville University. She enjoys writing, listening to music, bowling, and volunteering at a local history museum. Be sure to check out her personal blog.


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