Pros and Cons of Dual Enrollment

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By Kathryn Flynn

May 29, 2019

Students can save on college costs by earning dual-enrollment credits in high school. High school students who complete dual-enrollment classes generally need to take fewer classes in college. Dual-enrollment students are also more likely to attend and graduate from college.

However, there are disadvantages to taking dual-enrollment classes in high school. For example, not all colleges accept dual-enrollment credit. Dual enrollment may also interfere with a student’s high school schedule, especially if classes are not offered at the high school.

Consider these advantages and disadvantages of dual-enrollment classes when deciding whether or not to take dual-enrollment classes. 

PRO: Dual enrollment is a cost-effective way to earn college credit

Dual-enrollment classes cost much less than a traditional college class, with tuition prices ranging from $0 to $400. Dual enrollment allows students to get a jump start on their college degree and enter the workforce sooner. 

In some states, dual-enrollment tuition costs are covered by the state or the high school district. In nine states students are responsible for paying for dual-enrollment classes. Families may use a 529 plan to pay for dual-enrollment tuition, but costs of books and other supplies are not considered qualified 529 plan expenses. 

PRO: Dual-enrollment students are more likely to attend and graduate from college

A 2017 national study by the Community College Research Center (CCRC) reported that 88% of students who earned dual-enrollment credit in high school attended college after high school, and most earned a certificate or degree within five years.

A 2017 Illinois study by the American Educational Research Association found that students who took dual-enrollment classes were more nine percentage points more likely to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree than their peers who did not take dual-enrollment classes. 

PRO: Taking dual-enrollment classes can prepare students for college

Dual enrollment allows students to experience actual college coursework and develop good study habits before they start college. Dual-enrollment classes include introductory college coursework in Humanities, English, Math, Social Studies, Science and more.

Earning dual-enrollment credits may also boost students’ confidence when they begin college. This is helpful for first-generation college students and students who may be hesitant to leave home to attend college. 

PRO: Dual-credit looks good on college applications

College admission staff may consider dual-enrollment grades during the admissions process. Students who earn good grades in dual-enrollment classes may have a competitive edge over their peers when applying to colleges.

By successfully completing a dual-enrollment class, students demonstrate that they are capable of handling college-level coursework. 

CON: Not all colleges accept dual-enrollment credit

It’s important for students to research their options and meet with their school counselor before enrolling in a dual-enrollment class. At some colleges, dual-enrollment credits are accepted but not counted toward a degree. At other colleges, dual-enrollment credits are not accepted at all.

Public in-state colleges are more likely to accept dual-enrollment credits than private colleges or out-of-state colleges.

CON: Dual-enrollment classes may interfere with a student’s high school schedule

Dual-enrollment classes are taken in addition to a student’s regular high school course load. Some dual-enrollment classes may overlap with high school schedules, especially if the student has to commute to a community college to attend a dual-enrollment class.

High school students who take dual-enrollment classes have less time for extracurricular activities, which are also important to include on a college application.

CON: Dual-enrollment grades are part of a student’s permanent record

Dual-enrollment grades are actual high school and college grades that are included on the student’s high school and college transcripts. Students who fail dual-enrollment classes risk hurting their chances at college admissions and not graduating high school on time.

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