When it comes to getting the most out of your high school years, there are actually several different options to consider. If you’re looking to get the best level of education possible, and you want to make sure that you are on the right track toward what you want for college, you’re definitely going to want to look at dual enrollment, but you may not know what exactly it all means.
Often, when we think about excellence or advanced options in high school, we heard about advanced placement classes. But are advanced placement classes the way to go? What do you need to know about dual enrollment vs. advanced placement? Well, the truth is that both of these can help you, but in slightly different ways.
How Does Dual Enrollment Work in High School?
Dual enrollment means that you are actually taking classes at a local college or university while you are still in high school. It’s not offered to all students, but it is a way for you to get college credits while still taking your other high school classes and graduating from high school.
When you do this, there are a few different options for just how it works. You’ll first have to apply through your school, which means that you need to show the school that you need something more than what they can provide you. Usually, this means that you must show you have already completed all of the options for a specific class at your school and need something more.
Students who have already taken the highest level math or science class (for example) that their school offers may be able to apply for dual enrollment to take a higher level class with a college or university in the area. Other programs of study and courses may be available as well, but this is often up to the schools involved.
Once you get approved for dual enrollment, you would have to take the class at the other school. This may mean physically attending classes, or it may mean taking classes online. If you’re taking an online course, then during your open period in the school day, you would generally work on your online class. However, students who are engaged in physical courses may not have them at the same time as their ‘free period’ during the school day. In this case, your high school would decide your responsibilities during that period of the day.
It’s important to note that you would still get a letter grade for your college class at your high school. Also, you’re required to attend classes and complete all homework the same way you would be at your high school. Failing to do so can result in a failing grade at your high school or even being removed from the dual enrollment program.
What are the Pros and Cons of Dual Enrollment in High School?
If you’re not quite sure whether dual enrollment is right for you or not, there are some things that you should consider. For many students, this can be a great option, but not everyone gets the same benefits from it, so make sure that you talk over the benefits and the drawbacks.
Take advanced classes. For some students, the idea of taking more advanced courses is fun and exciting. It’s a way to learn something new about a subject that you’re good at or already enjoy. If you’re looking to take advanced courses, you’ll be able to do it much more accessible through dual enrollment.
Take free classes. If you’re planning on going on to college, then the fact that dual enrollment is free is definitely a benefit. The school will typically pay for you to take classes if you can prove that they don’t have the ability to offer you the classes that you need in any other way. That means you get free courses and free college credits.
Variety of classes. There are often several different types of courses that you can take through dual enrollment, and that means a lot of options for things that will actually interest you. For example, if you’re approved to take an advanced math class, there might be several different options for the specific one that you do take. This lets you explore your interests even more.
Difficulty with school-life balance. If you’re taking dual enrollment classes, you may have to go to a physical class outside of the regular school day. Even if you’re taking an online course, it will generally be more complicated than the classes that you would take at your high school. That means you may have trouble participating in other activities and extra-curriculars with your peers.
Not all credits transfer. If you’re not planning on going to the same college or university after graduation that you’re dual enrolling with, you will need to make sure that the credits you take can transfer with you. You may need to speak with a school counselor for all of the schools involved to find out what you’re able to get.
How to Apply for Dual Enrollment in High School?
If you’re interested in applying for dual enrollment, the first person you will usually talk to is your school counselor. They are going to help you advocate for your educational needs and will be able to work with the rest of the administration to make sure you can get into a dual enrollment program and which classes you can take.
Keep in mind that you will need to apply for this program, which means you may need to fill out a lot of forms (including getting your parents to do the same), and you will need to explain just why you think you should be approved for the program. That includes showing that you will be a good representative of your school while at college, that you need the additional educational support of higher-level classes that your school does not offer, and potentially more.
How Much Does Dual Enrollment Cost?
The really great thing about dual enrollment is that you don’t have to worry about the cost. When your school is not able to provide you with the classes that you need, they are then required to support you in other ways to make sure you can get those classes, which is where dual enrollment comes in.
Because they are not able to provide you with what you need, they actually pay for you to take the classes. That means that tuition and fees are generally free. Books and added supplies that you need for the courses may not be covered by the school, however, so it’s important to discuss all potential costs.
When you sign up for a class, you will generally find out about any fees and added costs associated with it. Make sure you talk with your school about which of these costs they will cover and which ones you will be responsible for. This could impact the type of classes that you want to take if you have options that involve more or less added supplies and costs.
Does Dual Enrollment Affect High School GPA?
The way that your dual enrollment affects your GPA is actually different depending on the specific school you go to. Some schools use your college GPA or grade from college courses in precisely the same way that they would use a regular grade. That means if you got an A in your college course, it would reflect as a standard A on your report card.
For other schools, dual enrollment may actually offer you a little bit of a bonus when it comes to your GPA. When you take an honors class in school, you will typically get a bonus of 0.5 points for your possible GPA in that class. When you take an advanced placement or baccalaureate class, you will generally get a bonus of 1 full point for your possible GPA in that class.
With some schools, a dual enrollment class will give you one of these two bonuses. While the honors bonus is more common, it’s possible that you could get the weighted bonus of taking an advanced placement class because you are taking a course with your college or university.
This is another factor you will want to talk about with your school counselor and anyone else involved in the process of getting your class approved. You want to know how your GPA will be affected and if it will be affected before you sign up for the course.
Dual Enrollment vs. Advanced Placement: Which is Better?
Now, it’s essential to look at one of the other standard ways that students get ahead when taking their high school classes. While dual enrollment allows you to earn college credit and to take official college courses, Advanced Placement has some significant benefits as well, and it’s essential to look into that.
AP classes are more advanced versions of the classes you would typically take in high school. So, your traditional English class as an AP class would be more complex and require more from you. In fact, it’s generally considered more like a college course than a high school course.
AP classes also give you college credit at specific schools, but not all of them. If you’re planning on going on to a local community college or university, you may be able to get college credit for these classes, but if you’re planning on going to higher-level schools, you may only get a boost to your application rather than full credit.
Of course, in order to receive any benefit for your AP class, you will need to take the standardized exam that occurs at the end of each course. These tests will give you a score from 1 to 5 based on what you’ve learned from the class. Those who get less than a three generally get no added benefits, while scores of 3 or above could mean college credit.
With a dual enrollment program, you are taking a more advanced version of your traditional high school class because you are actually at a college or university (physically or virtually). This means it’s more complex than the standard class, but it’s generally also a different class. You would actually be taking a higher-level class rather than just a more challenging version of the same course.
This will give you college credit at the school you’re attending and usually at several other schools where that credit can be transferred. This doesn’t mean that all credits you take this way can be transferred to any other school, however. So make sure that you’re actually checking before you count on those credits anywhere else.
For these credits to count, you’ll need to pass the class, though there is generally no grade requirement for what you pass the course with. This can be a benefit for some but may make no difference for others.
In general, which one is better can be up to your personal preference. AP classes are generally more recognized, whereas an application to a college or university won’t typically notice that you took dual enrollment. Also, it can be quite simple to take an AP class since it occurs during your average school day rather than being outside of your regular classes.
AP classes may be limited, however, since you can only take the classes that are offered at your school. Likewise, AP options are only offered in select subjects and will still be similar to the classes that you would take; otherwise, only more intense.
If you dual enroll, you will have more options for the type of classes that you take, the subject matter of those classes, and the higher level of learning, since they’re actually classes your school doesn’t currently offer. All of this could impact your decision of which option will work best for your needs and your future plans.
Wrapping Things Up: What is Dual Enrollment in High School?
When it comes down to it, dual enrollment can be an excellent benefit for you, but it might not be exactly what you’re looking for. Talking with your school counselor and even the counselor for the school that you would dual enroll with may help you make a decision about what’s best for your academic future. Just make sure you know what you’re getting into and the benefits of all of your options.