Taking dual enrollment courses as a high school student is no longer the exception– it has become the norm. Today, it is common for a significant portion of students to enter college with credit already earned. There are so many benefits and opportunities unlocked by dual enrollment.

Less pressure to overload hours during your college career –

The average college student takes at least 15 credit hours per semester in college. While only 12 credit hours per semester are required to maintain a full-time status, it is not out of the norm for students to take 17 or 18 hours in a semester to finish the requirements for their degree. By earning a few in high school, students can have a more balanced schedule each semester. If you plan to work or play a sport in college, the ability to take a reasonable credit load allows more time for those extracurricular activities.

Ability to add majors and minors –

Instead of taking a lighter load, you may choose to tackle a double major or add some minors. Most institutions encourage their students to turn elective hours into a minor, but earning two majors is not as common. Double majoring can enhance your experience and set you apart when seeking employment after graduation. Many majors and minors complement each other well, but you could also pursue one major that will be a career path and another simple because it is something you would like to study.

Opportunity to adjust academically –

The transition to college can be difficult if one is not prepared. Moving into a dorm, balancing a schedule, learning to budget, investing in the social scene and more–on top of a new level of course structure and demand–is an adjustment. Dual enrollment in high school can serve as a transition buffer that allows you to transition academically before worrying about transitioning socially. Getting in the rhythm of a college curriculum and understanding a new classroom dynamic can be the beginning of success.

Course diversity –

Colleges typically offer a wider array of courses than many high schools. There may be something you are interested in studying but don’t have access to at your school. Taking a course like this at a local college can also be a way to test potential majors and minors.

~Discover first-hand what is important in a college for you ~

Enrolling in college courses as a high school student can be intimidating, but most of these concerns can be reduced. Below are some common concerns and, hopefully, a more realistic view of them.

Too hard of a work-load –

College courses can seem intimidating. There are a few main differences between the structure of high school and college. The expectations are certainly different. College professors will not be checking in with you to make sure you are completing everything. You are expected to come to class prepared to contribute. Even so, your professors are willing and excited to help you during their office hours. Connecting with a professor can be one of the most valuable experiences and the key to mitigating stress surrounding course subject matter.

Standing out among the college crowd –

You may feel like you will stand out as a high school student among college students but most people won’t know the difference. Even if they do know, there is no need to worry about being treated differently. The same expectations and standards apply to you as to any other student. No matter what, do not be intimidated. There are lots of people to meet and friendships to form!

Transferring credits –

When choosing which courses to take, it is important to see which ones will be relevant to your actual college career. Look at the requirements for the colleges you are interested in attending after graduation and try to take courses that align with their needs. Taking courses such as composition, speech, and computer applications are more likely to transfer than a narrowly specific course. For the most part, colleges accept a wide array of dual enrollment credits, but to avoid these credits being just elective hours, you should check your prospective college’s requirements first.

Not enough time to live the dual life –

Taking dual enrollment courses will potentially increase your workload. It may seem like too much to add when considering all your current commitments. Make sure you balance your time well, but remember that dual enrolling can save you time in college. Your last few years of high school are busy; however, if you are able, adding more to your schedule now will be worth it in the future.

Dual enrollment certainly has its benefits. It’s easy to see why its popularity has increased so quickly. Before you decided to pursue dual enrollment, it is important to assess all concerns and to balance them with the benefits. Dedicating time to dual enrollment courses can save you significant money, time, and stress in the years to come.

By Abbie Russell, ‘21