How to Kill Two Birds with One Stone
What if I told you about a system wherein students at 73% of the high schools in the country students could fulfill their high school graduation requirements AND earn college credits at the same time? What if I then told you that in most cases these college credits could be had at severe discount, or even for free? You might be surprised, like I was, that the vast majority of students to whom this opportunity is available fail to take advantage of it.
Welcome to the world of dual enrollment, so-called because students participating in these programs attend classes that earn both high school and college credits. The lesser-known cousin of Advanced Placement, or A.P., dual enrollment only attracts 17% of the students at schools offering the arrangement. Which is too bad because the savings of both time and money can be incredible, as evidenced by our last Chart of the Week.
Under a dual enrollment arrangement, a high school student would sign up for and attend college classes of her choosing, usually at a nearby junior college. Upon satisfactory completion, the student then has the class added to his or her transcript at both the college of attendance and at the high school of enrollment. This takes a certain level of extra paperwork and some permissions, but the hoops to jump through are usually clearly spelled out. In return, the state, already on the hook for in-state tuition subsidies and public K-12 educations, pays for most or all of the costs.
As a result, high school students with college plans can use the time they would otherwise spend in class fulfilling one requirement to attend class elsewhere and fulfill two requirements. In many cases, those students even earn enough credits to merit a degree, all on the state’s nickel and at a young age. Any time you have such an opportunity to save time and money look it would behoove you to look into it. The easiest way to do so is to talk to your high school counselor or to check with your local colleges to orient yourself to the process.
One caveat is in order: as with other plans to earn credits for transfer, make sure those credits do indeed transfer to the institution of your choice. Not all credits are created equal in the eyes of college registrars. Before you take an A.P. exam, take dual enrollment coursework, or take classes at a JuCo check with your eventual landing place to make sure they will accept your scores or courses.