During high school, I had the most amazing guidance counselor. My sophomore year, she suggested I try a dual enrollment course at our local community college. I decided to take a math class I had been dreading taking since it sounded like more fun to take in college. That day she opened me up to the wonderful world of dual enrollment.
My dual enrollment program consisted of me taking one course a semester at my community college while also taking six high school courses. Many programs will allow you to take more college courses and less high school ones, but my state’s rules for participating in sports mandated that I take six courses at my high school. I had to apply to the community college dual enrollment program and be accepted to the school as a student. Once accepted, I was set up with an advisor that helped me select courses that would help me complete my high school curriculum and core classes required by most colleges.
My high school had an early release program that allowed me to get out of school early each day in order to get to my college course on time or to give me more time to get all of my work done. This was great when I didn’t have sports after school, but most days I stayed in the library and got my work done. Let me tell you the dual enrollment courses were the most fun I’d ever taken. You’d be amazed at how welcome college students will make you (the little high schooler) feel in the classroom. I had one amazing professor that even let me miss class when I had a tennis match to go to. He was very supportive of dual enrollment students and I found this to be true of all of my professors.
Dual enrollment is not for everyone, but if you’re looking to be challenged more than you are in your high school, it might be a good option to look into. I know one girl that did full-time dual enrollment and graduated with her high school and Associate’s degrees at the same time. When I started my first day of college, I had accumulated 20 credits between dual enrollment and Advanced Placement courses. This meant that I only had one semester full of core classes before I got into classes for my major. On top of that, I am graduating college in three years with a double major. None of this would’ve been possible if I hadn’t done the dual enrollment program.
Dual enrollment also allowed me to get more core classes done opening my schedule up for me to do an exchange. I’ve spent the past semester at Florida International University in Miami, Florida which I never thought I’d be able to do. On another note, having a college student ID while in high school gets you many more amazing discounts than you would’ve ever thought possible (plus I’ve been getting these discounts since I was 16). Beyond looking good on a college application, my dual enrollment courses helped me decide which major I wanted to study in college. I was between Psychology and Elementary Education so my advisor had me take a class in each subject. I’m now a senior at Westfield State University that will be graduating with a degree in Elementary Education and Liberal Studies.
I also cannot stress to you how much money you will end up saving if you take college courses while in high school. My program covered half the cost of each course I took, but some programs cover all the courses you take. Additionally, I’m saving $20,000 by graduating a year early. It might be hard at first to find a balance between being a high school student while taking college classes, but I promise it is completely worth it in the end.
If you’re up for the challenge, meet with your guidance counselor to see if dual enrollment might be the right course of action for you. If you can’t make it to a college campus, many schools now offer online courses you can take. Whether you take classes online or in person, it will be a beneficial experience. I wish you the best in your future education!