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Nothing will ever prepare you for any situation in life, like firsthand experience. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a hands-on learner, being able to “test drive” college is something we can all appreciate.

Dual enrollment is a wonderful opportunity for high school juniors and seniors to get a taste of college course load and atmosphere. Participating in a dual enrollment program can help to bridge the gap between high school and a four-year university, at little to no cost. Here are the top three reasons why you should take advantage of a dual enrollment program.

1. Bridging the gap to the unknown 

It’s no secret that college is different than high school. However, how is it different? What will lectures feel like? How will it be not having homework due until the end of the semester in some cases? The list of questions can go on and on. Think of a dual enrollment program as a sneak peek at the college experience, because, it is a college experience! It can even be something as small as no longer having anyone telling you where to go, parking and larger class sizes. Knowing what you’re getting into, before you get there will ease the transition between graduation and orientation.

2. Preparation and course load awareness

I never took syllabi seriously until my dual enrollment experience. Because more often than not in high school, you still have a teacher reminding you weekly when things are due. However, you will start to see the value of that syllabus when you forget about a random project two weeks before finals. High school course load also tends to have a wide range of difficulty compared to a college course load. Maybe you went to a rigorous college-prep school, and feel prepared to take on a 12 credit hour semester. Even so, these classes are still being taken in a secondary school environment. Dual enrollment allows you to learn independence and time management at a collegiate level.

3. College credit, say what!

(What!) There is nothing more satisfying than knowing you are entering college with credits already on your transcript. Many schools will treat college credit like honors or AP on high school transcripts, but nine times out of ten any college you apply to will accept core classes for credit. I entered college with 10 college credits already on my transcripts and my only regret is that I didn’t take the full dual enrollment course load my senior year. Depending on your state’s program, and how early you are able to begin dual enrollment, you may find that you are completely finished with the first two years of classes before you ever step onto that four-year university campus. It’s a beautiful system.

So talk to your school’s adviser! Find out how your state handles dual enrollment and if you are eligible to apply for the program. Your school will most likely have to prove that you are capable of handling a college course. Lastly, after being approved, discuss how many courses you should take. Are you already heavily involved at your high school? Are you required to take a set number of classes there in order to graduate? These are all important things to consider before embarking on a dual enrollment path. However, no matter the course load you are capable of, taking advantage of the chance to test drive college will enrich your last few semesters of high school.

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