Dual Enrollment: Student Questions Answered

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Questions posed by high school students on the Dual Enrollment process

As director of a dual enrollment program for a Florida state college and a former school counselor for an early college/ collegiate program, I receive a lot of questions from parents and students interested about the dual enrollment process. In one presentation, these were questions students had written down for me to answer. (Additional questions from their list will be answered in March’s edition of UnMazed Magazine: Teen’s Guide to Testing)

Why should I do dual enrollment?

The top reasons I hear why students do dual enrollment is that is saves them time and money. With college costs continuing to rise, dual enrollment is fast becoming a great way to access college at no cost. The Florida Department of Education also found that students who dual enrolled completed college 1.4 years sooner than non-DE students. There are also other reasons that students dual enroll. Students often take on dual enrollment want to be challenged through academically through deeper conversations and tasks that engage the student as a critical thinker and problem solver.

What classes will be helpful for dual enrollment?

If you are considering dual enrollment, it is important to have a strong emphasis in your core classes, such as mathematics, science, language arts, and social studies. Particularly I see students who have been successful in Algebra 2 have some of the greatest success at transitioning to some of the courses. As well, your English coursework should have introduced you to concepts such as MLA format and the essay writing process. There also is a need for strong self-management skills, such as time management,  organization, and independent studying.

What is a typical workload for dual enrolled students?

The difference I see with the workload is that students have more independent studying that needs to take place versus a traditional high school course. College professors expect you to take quality notes, seek assistance when there are questions, and to actually read the assigned textbook/ readings. Most people state that for every credit taken in dual enrollment, three hours of studying is required a week. So, a typical 3 credit course is approximately 9 hours a week of studying course material.

What is the difference between online and in person dual enrollment?

Online gives students more flexibility to meet their needs. Many students are limited to taking dual enrollment on a college campus because of transportation issues. However, online courses allow students access to college courses they would not normally have. Several high schools have assigned study hall periods that only online dual enrollment students take. The biggest difference is the student has to be sure to thoroughly go through the Learning Management System (for us Canvas) for readings, discussion posts, and assignment submission. Note with it being electronic, there is a time stamp for everything. So professors can easily see when you logged into the course, how much time you spent in the course, when you submitted your materials, and how you compare to all the other students. So there is no “My computer had trouble and I could not submit.”

What kind of testing is involved in dual enrollment?

Testing requirements are set by the state and for certain courses you need certain scores. For state colleges, we allow students to take the Post Educational Readiness Test (PERT) which is an online, untimed test; the ACT test; or the SAT.

How many years do you recommend being dual enrolled for?

Every student is different on this. Traditionally, students usually begin with one or two classes their sophomore year, and increase their dual enrollment load their junior and senior year. We are finding more students choosing the early admission program, where students can go full-time to college for their junior and senior year with the possibility of earning an associate of arts degree by the time they graduate high school. Last year, we had 181 students graduate with their AA degrees.

What do I need to become dual enrolled after the end of next year?

You will first need to put in an application to the college as a dual enrolled student. Next, you need to submit your test scores (PERT, ACT, or SAT) to qualify. You will then work with your school counselor to register for dual enrollment courses. Students have to maintain a 3.0 high school grade point average to stay eligible (3.5 for sophomore and below).

Will I be able to handle the workload of dual enrollment and afternoon activities?

The one nice thing about being a college student is your schedule is flexible and you can pick the days and times of classes that work best for you. More students are choosing a combination of on-campus and online courses. I would caution taking on too much work because college coursework can quickly catch up to you and I have asked students, “Why did you fail?” and often the response is, “I took on too many hours at work (or activity) and got behind.”

When is it best to take the PERT test?

It truly depends on what your academic goals are. I typically see 10th graders taking the PERT in the Spring for possible enrollment for the Fall. If you plan early, you can take the PERT and the ACT/SAT if you do not get the qualifying score. Also, classes fill up quickly, so waiting until the last minute is ill-advised.

Should I strive to become dual enrolled or just focus on finishing the four years of high school?

It truly depends on what type of student you are and your future goals. If you are ready, emotionally and academically to take on the challenge of college coursework, dual enrollment can save you substantial time and money. However, if you do poorly it can have huge consequence on scholarships and college admissions.