Pros & Cons of Dual Enrollment for High Schoolers


What is Dual Credit/Enrollment?

Choo, chooโ€ฆ here comes the affordability train! If you haven't heard the term "dual enrollment" or "dual credit," you're in luck as you'll get to know one of the best investments you can make in high school! ๐Ÿš‚

Dual credit is an attractive option for many high school students to maximize their education while minimizing costs and expenses. With the dual credit system, students enroll in a high school and equivalent college course simultaneously and upon completion receive college credit. This is possible thanks to partnerships and collaborations between high schools and local community colleges. Some may even allow you to receive an associate's degree if you earn enough credits! โœจ

While it varies from school to school, there are some general pros (positives) and cons (negatives) to taking dual credit courses. As you read through the article, be sure to consider your priorities, goals, and school commitments to determine whether it's more beneficial or detrimental to go down the dual enrollment rabbit hole! ๐Ÿค”

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The Pros of Dual Credit โœ”๏ธ

Grades earn you credit, not exams! ๐Ÿ–Š๏ธ

Unlike AP exams, most dual credit courses DON'T assign credit using a comprehensive year-end exam to test your knowledge. This means that all of your work throughout the term directly contributes to you potentially receiving college credit! In other words, you don't need to review and stress over remembering the yearlong course content repeatedly in preparation for the hypothetical final exam. Your grades determine whether or not you receive credit! ๐Ÿ˜

Beware, though: you still need to be on top of your work. Whether it be a smaller unit test, a reflection, a literary review, a hands-on project, or a research paper, assessments still exist to check how adept you are at understanding the course and applying the skills needed to succeed in said class. ๐Ÿ’ป

Personalized learning and grading, not arbitrary! ๐Ÿ’ฏ

Unlike other standardized college courses like AP or IB, dual credit allows you to work alongside teachers in your classroom. Rather than an unknown AP teacher in a distant realm grading your exam, your dual credit teacher will be working alongside you the entire year. They will grade any assignment, test, and project you hand in. Plus, your college and high school grades will be based on the grade they give. As a result, you'll have time to understand and tailor your assignments to fit their requirements! ๐Ÿ“…

Headstart on in-state college admissions!

Are you planning to apply to colleges in your home state? Dual credit might be more than helpful, then! Did you know that many college students transfer from community colleges to four-year universities after a couple of years? That's rightโ€”means that in-state universities are knowledgeable about the college courses most freshmen and sophomore college students take. To accommodate transfer students, these same universities offer identical courses as community colleges, and they can even be super generous in transferring pre-matriculation credit.

๐Ÿ’ก Check out examples from UC Los Angeles, University of North Carolina, and University of Michigan!

No unexpected GPA changes! ๐Ÿ“ˆ

Most AP and dual enrollment classes weigh similarly in terms of grade point average (by "most," we mean check with your local community college's policies).

Consequently, taking classes dual credit-style instead of AP-style won't significantly alter your high school GPA, which is a win-win for college admissions! ๐Ÿซ

The Cons of Dual Credit โŒ

Lack of standardization! ๐Ÿ˜“

While having a good teacher may make it easier for you to obtain college credit, the opposite is also true. If you have a more difficult teacher (i.e. teaching style, harsh grading, steep exam curves, less support, etc.), you may find that students who have easier teachers don't have to struggle as much to get the same amount of college credit as yours. ๐Ÿ˜ฃ

Unlike dual enrollment, AP and IB exams use standardized rubrics to assess students' responses to multiple-choice and free-response sections. While subjectivity still exists within exam graders, it's less likely to interfere with grading. In dual credit, however, the course is run at the professor's discretion, so they can "call the shots" on grading your paper or exam. ๐Ÿ”ซ

Elite universities aren't as pro-Dual Credit! ๐Ÿ‘Ž

While dual enrollment may be advantageous for students seeking post-secondary education in-state, there might be a few hiccups if you do not want to remain in your state for college. More prestigious institutions tend to lean towards well-established programs like AP and IB. ๐Ÿค“

Due to the lack of standardization imposed on students through college courses, these colleges and universities are often hesitant to accept dual credit. They tend to receive a more diverse group of applicants, and as a result, it may be hard for admissions officers to determine the level of rigor of dual credit classes. ๐Ÿ“š

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GPA transfers over to college! ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐ŸŽ“

Remember, you are taking a college-level class. When you transfer your classes to a four-year university, the university may use the letter grade you received in the class and factor it into your college GPA. For example, if you received a B in an AP class and a 5 on the exam, the college would give you credit, but it would not factor into your bachelor's degree GPA. On the other hand, if you received a B in a dual credit class, you'll probably see a 3.0 appear on your post-secondary transcript. ๐Ÿ˜ฌ

Dual Credit Costs and Credits! ๐Ÿ’ฐ

The difference in cost for AP and dual credit classes depends on your specific school and affiliated college. On one hand, the College Board allows for fee waivers for AP courses that make it easy for low-income students to access their services. Most colleges offer subsidies to those who need them; however, college subsidy policies may differ from region to region. Below are qualification requirements ($$$) for fee reductions for AP exams. ๐ŸŒŽ

Image Courtesy of College Board

You should also check with local universities and see if (1) they accept dual credit courses and (2) how many credits they typically transfer. If they offer significantly fewer dual enrollment credits compared to AP or IB, then you might want to rethink your options. โœˆ๏ธ

To Take or Not to Take? ๐Ÿค”

In a nutshell, dual credit is a great option for those who

  1. have test-taking anxiety
  2. do not perform well under standardized exam conditions
  3. simply want to explore something new.

If you're still unsure, talk to your high school or college counselor and decide on what's best for you with the pros and cons we outlined just now in mind. Good luck and you'll do awesome regardless of what you pick! ๐Ÿ˜บ


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