So You Want to Dual Enroll?

Before I start this post, I want to state a disclaimer:

I am the Director of Dual Enrollment for Florida SouthWestern State College, servicing over 3,100 students in 5 counties managing over 40 high schools and 80 home schools, all with the goal of accelerating the student's learning to meet their academic and personal goals either on our campus, online through FSW faculty or through their high school concurrent classes. 

However, I have continually witnessed the impact of what ANY acceleration method provides, whether it is DE, AICE, AP, or IB. I suggest you read AP, IB, Dual-Enrollment- Determining What is Best For You, as well as this article to better understand what acceleration is. In the coming weeks, I have planned several webinars with program directors of the other acceleration programs to give you a great overview of finding the right program for your high school student. So stay tuned!

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What is Dual Enrollment?

Dual Enrollment is one of several acceleration mechanisms specifically authorized by the Florida Legislature (Section 1007.27, Florida Statutes). The Dual Enrollment program allows a student to take postsecondary courses simultaneously earning high school credit needed for graduation while completing college course requirements for completion of a career certificate, an associate degree or baccalaureate degree while still in high school. 

Who Qualifies?

Any student wishing to take a Dual Enrollment course must first meet eligibility criteria. Students who plan to enroll in college credit Dual Enrollment courses must have at least a 3.0 unweighted high school grade point average (GPA) and must pass the section of the College Placement Test applicable to the Dual Enrollment course.  Students may earn these scores through three different tests offered here in Florida, PERT, ACT & SAT. Qualifying scores can be found on FSW's website here

Types of Programs:

FSW, for example, has created several mechanisms for students to earn college credit. Here are the varying types of Dual Enrollment programming available.

Concurrent Enrollment: Concurrent enrollment are Dual Enrollment courses where students receive high school and college credits, yet the courses and professors reside on the high school campus. The professors are considered college professors that are fully credentialed to teach the course specific classes. Common courses include Composition (ENC 1101 & 1102), United States History (AMH 2010 & AMH 2020), Biological Sciences (BSC 1010/L), and Mathematics (MAC 1105 & MAC 1140).

Benefits- Students stay on the high school campus, and follow the high school schedule.

Drawbacks- Opponents state it is not the same decorum as a college course setting.

Dual Enrollment: Dual enrollment is a part-time program where students may enroll from 3-12 college credits by taking courses on a college campus or online by the college's faculty. 

Benefits- Students receive instruction from college professors, and learn to navigate through the college system. 

Drawbacks- Managing a high school and college schedule can be hard as there can be conflicts. It is always best to speak with the school counselor to ensure it works for the student.

Early Admission-  Early Admission students do a full-time, 12-18 credit college program. While they are still enrolled in their high school, they do not attend any high school courses. 

Benefits- The students follow one schedule, instead of two like in DE. As well, they accelerate at a faster rate, with some earning their Associates of Arts degree before they graduate high school.

Drawbacks- Some students wish for the more traditional high school experience and do not do well with the academic independence.

Collegiate Institute-  A relatively new program, but a Collegiate Institute is an Early Admission program but at a high school, simply a school-within-a-school. 

Benefits- Collegiate Institutes help solve the issue with transportation for students who may not be able to travel to the college campus.

Drawbacks- Numbers are small and not every student can be involved in the program.

Collegiate High Schools- Several state colleges have created their own Collegiate High Schools, where students enroll as early as 9th grade. Most Collegiate High Schools have their school on the college's campus, and from day one of 9th grade are taught and instructed on college readiness with the goal to earn their Associates of Arts degree by the time the graduate high school. FSW's two Collegiate High Schools are continually top rated in the state ranking 3rd and 5th on standardized test scores.

Benefits-Teachers are heavily dedicated in providing college readiness skills that include academic behaviors, critical thinking, time management, "soft skill" development (grit, resiliency, etc), and college knowledge from day one.

Drawbacks- Space is limited and not all students are ready for an accelerated curriculum. As well, if students do not meet the entrance criteria as a junior, they may have to leave the program.

What Every Parent and Student Should Know:

1. Know your academic strengths and long term goals- there are many types of acceleration programs out there, and one may be a better fit than another for some students. Here in Florida, if a student earns the college credit through Dual Enrollment, state statute has that ALL passing credits must transfer to the university. However, if a student decides to go out-of-state, it is up to the individual college what credits they will take or not. It is always best to talk with admission representatives if you are bringing in DE credits.

2. Know your academic resources- I would shout this to every DE student if I could- As a college student, no matter where you take your courses (concurrent, online or on the college campus), the campus is completely available to you. That includes all the academic services such as Advising, College Resource Center, Writing Lab,  Math Lab, Peer Tutoring, the amazing resources of the library (they will help you find your works cited articles!), clubs, activities, and so much more! If you are struggling or just need more support, the college is here to support you. 

3. Know your academic and college path-To just take classes to take classes is not a smart use of time and energy. Meeting with a college advisor to make sure you are meeting your high school and college requirements is key. Often, I have students look at the college this wish to go (even if it's not ours) and develop a plan based on their major of choice. Ensuring you are meeting your prerequisites for specific college programs is key. Programs such as Engineering, Nursing, Business, Chemistry, Biology, have very specific prerequisites to using your AA core and elective credits is extremely helpful. What if you don't know what you want to do? This is also a great time to explore different majors or classes that sound interesting to you. 

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Why Dual Enrollment?

There are several reasons why I would suggest Dual Enrollment to interested students.

1. Many different types of programs available- most high school students work toward their Associates of Arts degrees, which is the first 60 credits of general education courses (Communication, Humanities, Mathematics, Social Sciences, Sciences, and Electives). However, within that students often take courses that can go towards their Associates of Science degree or College Credit Certificates- (Terminology- Post Secondary Institutions & Programs)

2. Personalized Credit Plan- A student can really go at their own pace to achieve college success- anywhere from one class at your high school (concurrent) or up to 18 credits doing the advanced Honors program with undergraduate research opportunities. 

3. Free College Credits- I should put this at the top of the list, but the fact the students do NOT pay for these credits or their books (unless homeschooled) is phenomenal. The cost savings of 30 credits (about one full year), is around $22,000-45,000 if you count tuition, room and board at a state or private university.

4. Increased Completion Time- Unlike AP, IB, or AICE acceleration programs, Dual Enrollment is only one semester. So if you take AP English Language it is a full year and you possibly get 3 credits for Composition I if you pass the final exam, and 1 high school credit. However, in Dual Enrollment in one year you can complete Composition I (3 credits) AND Composition II (3 credits)= 6 college credits and 2 high school credits. The Florida College System found that students who do an acceleration method earn their bachelors degree in 2.5 years versus 4.7 years with no acceleration (see above infographic)! So not only do you accelerate through high school, but you speed up the time it takes to reach your college and professional goals!

5. Impact of Weighted GPA- Because of #4, a student's weighted GPA can significantly increase with Dual Enrollment credits. This has a big impact on college admissions when they recalculate a student's GPA (See article- Why Your Recalculated GPA is Important to Know) . College's use your success in these courses to make their college admission decisions (see video- USF Admissions- How They Make Their Decisions).

6. One Test Does Not Decide Your College Fate- College credit is only awarded for AP,  IB, and AICE courses if the student meets a designated score on a standardized exit examination. If a student is not a good test taker or the teacher does not prepare them for the test, students might not pass.  If you receive an "A" in an AP course, but do not pass the test, you do not receive the college credit. As well, grades in AP, IB, and AICE do NOT go on your college transcript. Dual Enrollment professors, on the other hand, have to have a Masters or Doctorate in that field of study. As well, if you receive an "A" in Composition I, you receive an "A" on your college transcript and are awarded the 3  credits.

Here is a graph from the Florida State College System on Percentage of DE/ AP/ IB who earn post-secondary credit:

2007 Post Secondary Credit Eligibility


Why NOT to Dual Enroll?

1. Student Independence-  Some students are not ready for the independence that comes with taking a college class. No one calls to the parents or school when the student misses class or is falling behind. Students need to be independent and seek out resources and support to be successful.

2. Harm to College Transcript- Dual Enrollment students are building a college transcript. If they fail a course, it has serious implications to college admissions into other post-secondary institutions and for financial aid.

3. Overwhelmed by Other Things- Some students take on too much, and are maintaining a heavy high school, extra-curricular, and work load. This can have a great impact on their academic work in their Dual Enrollment courses. Set realistic expectations and look at a student's schedule to see if they can devote 3-4 hours to class every week, plus 6-9 hours of homework per week (=12 hours a week). If not, it is best to cut back on some things until they can.

4. Transportation or Internet Issues- With so many types of Dual Enrollment courses a student can take almost all qualified students can find something that fits their needs. However, some students struggle with getting to their on-campus course or have unreliable internet to do their school work. Students should discuss the problem areas before registering for class, so they have a plan if this occurs.


As you can see, Dual Enrollment works for almost 60,000 students across the state. And that number continues to grow every year. Our own institution continues to see growth in our Dual Enrollment numbers, and we are continually trying to create new programs to meet family's needs.  I hope I have given you some suggestions and things to think about. If you have questions, please tune into my Dual Enrollment webinar that is coming up the week of December 18th-22nd. Sign up for my newsletter to receive the invitation to attend!

As always- Stay amazing! Dr. Amanda Sterk