Image from Pexels

Image from Pexels

Dual enrollment is a growing option for honors and advanced high school students. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, this is when your school system partners with a college to allow high school students to start earning college credits while still in high school. In many cases, like mine, you may be able to follow a plan that allows you to graduate high school with your two year, Associates degree for no costs. Yes, free tuition.

For many students, this option can be hard to let pass by. But for other students, who are highly committed to electives such as band, choir, drama or other specialty programs can have a hard time deciding what the best option is for them. As someone who took the dual enrollment route, I have been able to personally experience both the pros and cons of this program.

The pros:

  • The courses you take will typically count as both high school and college credits, so you move forward toward both graduations.
  • The college credits you earn will help improve you weighted GPA because the credits are worth more than high school credits.
  • You have the possibility to but back on tuition by 50%.
  • It is impressive! It can help you land a job or get into the college of your choice.
  • You can get your Masters degree in the same amount of time as others your age are getting your Bachelors.

The cons:

  • Often times, you may have to drop an elective that you love.
  • You lose two years of the undergraduate experience.
  • You jump right into college with students who have been there for two years, know the program, have already made their friends and are starting to get internships and jobs.
  • People may be impressed by your hard work put forth to graduating early, but set off by your age.

When many people start dual enrollment, they look at as either getting their AA diploma or not doing it at all. When I started the dual enrollment process, I started a semester later than most and still pushed myself to squeeze in all the classes I needed. This led to missing out on electives, taking more classes than anyone else in my school and just being all around stressed. Although I graduated at the top 20% of my class and am proud to say I did it, I would not suggest that anyone push themselves the way I did.

Even if you do not get your AA degree through the dual enrollment program, you can still improve your weighted GPA and get quite a bit of courses out of the way. By taking this route, you can also probably keep doing the extra curricular that you enjoy! Balancing both honors course work and extracurricular looks just as good on a resume as graduating high school with two years of college under your belt.

My advice? Enjoy high school while taking advantage of the dual enrollment program! Take a look at your options and what each of them requires. Don’t stress out about not taking all the classes you could, but focus on making the best grades and having the most fun while you do it. Also, be sure to take basic, general education courses that are most likely to transfer (Remember: An Associates degree will transfer completely to a university, but if you only have a few classes it is up to the school if they transfer or not, so taking the basic general education courses is the safest route to go).  You won’t regret an extra year in college anyway- have you heard of a fifth year senior?

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