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Dual Enrollment: How To Receive Free College Credit and Save Time in High School

Dual enrollment is a program where a high school student can participate in college-level courses for valid college credit. This can mean dually-enrolling full-time and dropping all high school courses for college-level courses. Or you can partly dual enroll and take high school classes while driving to college for their courses. Some states pay for these dual-enrolled courses, while others have to be paid for out of pocket. However, once dual enrollment students graduate from high school, they can apply for other colleges that aren’t the ones they are dual enrolling at. Depending on the college, they can accept your dual-enrollment credits as college credits even though they’re from a different school. Still, registering into your dual-enrollment college and transferring to your target school is an option. Depending on the circumstance, dual-enrollment can be a Fastrack for the advanced student.

Dual enrollment can be a huge advantage for a highschool student. Dual enrollment can mean free college tuition if the state pays for it, and the earlier you start, the more you can save. Dual enrollment in sophomore or junior year can shave off two or possibly three years of college and tuition. That means potentially 10 thousand or 18 thousand dollars saved. That money can go to other means of advancing your education, like a graduate school or preparatory courses. However, the biggest boon of dual enrollment can be the time you saved. If you dual enroll long enough and shave 2 years of time off your degree, you will have the flexibility to take gap years and double major. It can also mean more money. The faster you finish a degree and get into your profession, the faster you can start receiving money. The two years you save could be worth thousands of dollars.

Despite the benefits, dual enrollment might not be for you. You should not dual enroll if you don’t intend to apply to top colleges. Most ivy league colleges do not accept dual enrollment credits and may look down on them. Dual enrollment would only give you more challenging classes that would take time away from cultivating the necessary SAT score, grades, and extracurriculars to get admitted. You also shouldn’t dual enroll if you still want to remain in your high school’s magnet program. Magnet programs usually kick you out once you are accepted into dual enrollment. This means that dual enrolling full-time is probably the best option, especially if the state pays for it since time spent taking high school courses is time not spent acquiring free college credits. However, some magnet programs cut requirements for high school graduation. If you dual-enroll, you’ll lose this benefit, and you will have to take all the mandatory courses to graduate from high school. There are options for these courses in college. However, make sure to compare the two and choose wisely. Furthermore, do not dual enroll if you do poorly academically. Maybe you do qualify for the program just barely, but college classes are much more important than high school ones. Low grades in college are permanent and can impact graduate school admissions or other professions. It might be best to mature further in high school before taking college courses. Just remember that saving time isn’t always the best course of action. Finally, you also shouldn’t dual enroll, particularly full-time, if you want to preserve your high school life. Depending on how studious you are, college can be very challenging. This means time away from athletics, school extracurriculars, and friends. It's less so with part-time dual enrollment, but the demands can make highschool life different.

It's important to contact your counselor and do your research. Your counselor will help you with applying and weigh the benefits of dual enrollment for you. Also, dual enrollment is best used when you know what major or degree you want. That way, you can cut down on time and money in college. However, if you’re simply interested in a subject at a college level, you can take it even if it isn’t part of your major. The beauty of dual enrollment is the flexibility and time you get. If you want to double major or take minors, it's a lot easier when you already finished your degree two years early for free. However, try to know what major you want. Finally, go over dual enrollment with your parents or guardian. They can help you decide whether dual enrollment can be a fit for you and if they can afford to pay for your college classes if the state doesn’t pay for it. Dual enrollment is a powerful but temporary opportunity for high school students. It should not be overlooked.

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