High schools that take an active role in encouraging their students to pursue higher education should consider offering a dual enrollment program. Dual enrollment is a partnership between a high school and a local college that enables students to take college classes for credit while earning their high school diploma. In some cases, classes are taught at the high school by college-approved teachers, and in other arrangements, the high school students are taught by college faculty on the college campus. There are many benefits of such programs and many ways they encourage success in high school students.

Broaden Opportunities for a Range of Students

While Advanced Placement courses are only accessible to above-average students, dual enrollment offers opportunities to a wider range of academic abilities. Requirements are usually decided by the participating high school and college, but a common requirement is a 2.0 GPA. Some programs are even geared at underperforming students with the hope that these students will be motivated to improve by the chance to earn college credit.1

Dual enrollment enables students who feel slowed down by their high school curriculum the opportunity to take more advanced courses. Such courses expand the horizons of these accelerated students, allowing them to explore what truly interests them and giving them a better idea of what they would like to pursue in the future.

Help Students Cover the Costs of Credit Hours

Dual enrollment programs are usually at least partially funded by state governments and offered free of charge to students. This eliminates economic barriers that would prevent underprivileged students from participating. The ability to earn college credit without payment (or in some cases, at a very low price) is of great value. In some states, such as Iowa, the classes are only free if you pass1, which further motivates students to do well.

Not all colleges accept dual enrollment credits, but most will usually accept them for prerequisites. These can take the place of general education requirements, still cutting back on the amount of college courses that would need to be paid for as a part of standard tuition. For lower income families, this can be a tremendous help in paying for higher education.

Prepare Students for College

The clearest benefit of a dual enrollment program is that students get to experience first-hand what college courses are really like. They get exposure to the workload, how professors differ from teachers and what is expected of them academically. Beyond this, students are also exposed to other parts of college life that may cause anxiety, such as the registrar, going to the bookstore, navigating the campus and more.3

Studies have also found that students who are part of a dual enrollment program are more likely to graduate high school, enroll in higher education, enroll in higher education full-time and attend a four-year institution.3 These are amazing findings. For high schools wanting to encourage success in their student body, dual enrollment programs are a great way to increase college enrollment and graduation rates.

Dual enrollment college courses for high school students have many benefits to the students involved. From financial assistance to confidence in attending a university full-time, these programs can benefit a wide range of students.

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Resources: Photo credit. (1) Some Teens Start College Work Early Via Dual Enrollment (2) Dual Enrollment Benefits At-Risk Students (3) Dual Enrollment: Lessons Learned on School-Level Implementation