Dual credit classes facilitate path to the university

Illustration by Alice McCallie/The Et Cetera

I was lucky enough to be introduced to dual credit my freshman year of high school. Right now, I am on track to graduate high school with an associate degree because of dual credit. Graduating high school with an associate degree shaves two years off your college experience. Even if you aren’t planning to go to a four-year university, if you graduate high school with an associate, you haven’t spent any extra time and you’re set up for better job offers in the future.

Dual credit, or dual enrollment, are basically college classes available to high schoolers. The high school students then receive a credit for both high school and college. Think of it as a two-for-one. It’s a pretty sweet deal, especially if you hate school with a burning passion.

Think about it. If you’re going for a college degree and already have half your credits, you only have to take half the classes. It’s definitely a time saver. Also, since you have to take similar core classes for both high school and college, why not take dual credit and get them out of the way? If you hate math, you only have to take it once through dual credit instead of twice in both high school and college, unless it happens to be part of your degree plan.

According to the Alliance for Excellent Education, around 60% of dual credit students graduate from university a year faster than students who did not participate in dual credit. Students who took dual credit are also generally more likely to graduate. The Education Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin says that dual enrollment students also have higher aspirations, starting with a shift from a community college plan to a four-year university goal.

Dual enrollment allows you to get your feet wet before diving into the churning ocean that is college. Jumping into college after the less-stressful environment of high school can be difficult. Some experience in the college world can allow for a smoother transition and help you keep your grades up where you otherwise might have fallen behind.

And another thing: it’s cheaper. Mind-     blowing, right? Taking a dual credit class in high school can actually cost less than taking the same class as a regular college credit. The Texas Homeschool Coalition says that you can save a couple thousand dollars in overall tuition. Some high schools even let you take dual enrollment included with your high school tuition. In other words, more benefits for no extra cost.

Students who took advanced classes in high school, including AP, honors and dual credit, are also generally more impressive to colleges. The good grades earned can show that you are more than ready for the extra challenge. If you manage to go all the way and complete your associate degree through dual credit, then you’ve got an even better shot at getting into college.

If your work ethic is there, I can’t recommend dual credit enough. College classes are not as easy as high school, but it is more than worth it. If you are currently participating in dual enrollment, congratulations and keep it up. Just remember college is not the time to get lazy. Work hard and push through. A study by the University of Texas at Austin says that over 72% of high schools offer dual credit classes, but only 27% of their students are taking advantage of it. Why shouldn’t you join them?

—Sarah Short is a dual credit student at Dallas College.

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