Pros and Cons of Dual Enrollment in High School

by Desiree Stanton
• 3 min read
TheBestSchools.org

Taking dual enrollment courses can lead to upper-level courses in college and early graduation. But is it always the right choice?

Being able to prepare for college life and not being blindsided by the new setting reduces stress. Attending different on-campus events, connecting with other students, and earning the best grades all contribute to personal development and self-esteem.

Experiencing the professor-student relationship, sitting in on college conversations during classes, and getting out of the high school setting for a moment prepares you for the next stage of your life.

However, dual enrollment may not work for every student. I completed dual enrollment during my senior year of high school, so here's a quick look at the pros and cons of this path.

Pro: You'll Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone

Dual enrollment allowed me to mature and grow academically and personally. I stayed focused and open-minded so that I could have a semester away from high school to grow and get ready for college. Stepping out of my comfort zone and the familiar walls of high school led me to my favorite saying: "Work smarter, not harder. Work now; chill later."

Introducing myself to a new environment and unfamiliar people helped me open up. Participating both at my high school and at the college where I took dual enrollment helped me get to that next stage of growth. Taking that extra, uncomfortable step is a great way to expand your comfort zone.

Con: You Might Need to Commute

During my high school years, I traveled to and from my high school, Kenwood Academy, as well as the local community college. Traveling from downtown Chicago to my high school and college on public transportation wasn't easy.

Every week I spent about six hours commuting from home, to downtown, to my schools. My normal route was a bus and train ride to the local college, then a train ride from the college to high school. I paid all fees for the public transportation, which could get expensive.

Before signing up for dual enrollment, verify if it's something you'll have to do in person and if you have transportation options to get there. You might also want to check if online dual enrollment is an option for you.

Pro: You Can Graduate Early

One of the biggest benefits of dual enrollment is graduating high school early — and there are a ton of great reasons to do so:

  • Skipping the feeling of senioritis and becoming "bored."
  • Getting a head start on college courses and college preparations.
  • Receiving an academic and social challenge.
  • Working and earning funds toward your college degree.
  • Gaining more free time for personal development.

Graduating early opened my eyes to a new world, and I discovered many capabilities I had, including knowing that I can do anything. From this decision, I learned the true meaning of independence –– and to not be afraid to ask for help.

I also had the chance to work an internship so I could gain more experience and save money for college. Overall, the most beneficial part of dual enrollment was that I got to take more college courses before moving on campus, and now I have the opportunity to graduate from college a year early.

Con: You Might Not Feel Ready to Graduate Early

While graduating high school early was one of my best decisions, every big decision has some downsides to it. Graduating early is a great opportunity to grow and expand in a world bigger than high school — but then your emotions may start to set in. Here are some potential drawbacks to consider.

  • You might feel like you're missing out on activities and the last days of high school.
  • Paying for college courses can add up.
  • Your academic growth may outpace your maturity and mental and emotional stability.
  • College counselors are not always available to provide last-minute guidance.
  • It may be hard to find meaningful ways to fill your gap year if you're not ready for college yet.

Before you enroll, talk to a trusted adult, evaluate how you would spend your time, and consider how far along in your academic career you are and would like to go.

Conclusion

Dual enrollment is one pathway to graduating early, but there are other ways to earn credits during high school and accelerate your education, if that's the right path for you. Consider the pros and cons and talk to your high school counselors. You'll land on the right decision to help you make the most of your senior year of high school.

Desiree Stanton is a senior at Johnson C. Smith University majoring in communication arts. Over the course of her academic career, she has developed her passion for editing, writing, and poetry and their impact on society. Stanton holds several leadership positions, including serving as the public relations officer for the NAACP on campus and serving as class senator. In her spare time, Stanton can be found traveling across the world with her family and friends.

Header Image Credit: Paul Bradbury, Bill Oxford | Getty Images

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