Making an Educated Choice About Dual Enrollment
- Friday, March 09, 2012
Why are so many parents and students choosing dual enrollment? Motivations certainly vary, but common reasons include these:
• Saving money. Viewed as an educational "buy one, get one free" offer, dual enrollment makes a lot of economic sense. Tuition expenses at government-run or approved, in-state, private colleges may even be paid by your state. Many Christian colleges and universities offer dual-enrollment programs with significant tuition discounts. You'll also save money on books in the long run, buying them once for dual credit.
• Saving time. Dual enrollment can hasten college degree completion or reduce a student's academic load in college. Look for accredited programs to facilitate transfer. Earned credit may affect eligibility for freshman scholarships, so check with your intended college.
• Testing the waters. As parents, we desire to train our children "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4) and to give them appropriate opportunities to show a heart of wisdom. Rigorous courses can confirm a student's readiness for college—or reveal areas for concentrated remediation. Many parents use dual-enrollment programs to provide a limited introduction to classroom instruction and group work.
• Exploring academic challenges. I've talked with lots of parents who accelerated their student's learning progress in areas of gifting. Providing instruction (or even finding curricula) for advanced learners can be a challenge! In my university chemistry classes, many students from abroad have completed high school coursework that is more advanced than comparable high school coursework required in the U.S. I believe our children deserve the same opportunities.
• Sizing up a school. While overnight stays, tours, and class visits are helpful, there's no better way to evaluate a promising college than by enrolling in a class. Does the institution deliver what it promises? Dual enrollment also gives the college a real-world evaluation of the high school applicant; solid performance in coursework helps facilitate full-time admission to competitive schools.
• Preparing for success. A recent report from the Community College Research Center showed that dual-enrollment students were statistically more likely to persist in college and earn higher grades than peers who had not dual enrolled.2 Such academic challenge provides the opportunity to gain confidence, develop skills, and succeed.
Ready or Not?
Although dual-enrollment courses provide many opportunities, parents need to consider carefully whether a student is ready for success. Dual-enrollment credit appears on an official college transcript. Every student wants to start off on the right foot, making a good impression for full-time admission. Beyond academic capabilities, you need to evaluate whether or not your student is:
• Grounded. The successful student is emotionally and spiritually ready for college-level demands and responsibilities. It requires hard work, and professors can be demanding! Students also must be confident in their faith and discerning enough to participate in adult-level discussions. Parents obviously need to carefully evaluate course content and the teacher's worldview. I've heard too many stories about good kids who lost their way when they followed unworthy role models.
• Determined. Entering into an academic environment with college-aged peers requires the successful student to overcome many challenges. At times students may doubt they truly "belong," and consequently their contributions to a group project may be stifled. Successful students persevere through disappointment. My college students (and children!) enjoy hearing how I flunked my first graduate school exam in Advanced Organic Chemistry, yet finished the semester with a B+.
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