For high school students interested in more advanced courses or wanting to get a "jump on" college requirements, dual enrollment programs may provide a good answer. Even some rural high schools that are usually slower in offering new opportunities are trending to dual enrollment for their students who desire it.

Dual enrollment, or concurrent enrollment as it is also known, is the practice of allowing a student to be enrolled in two academic institutions at once. Usually, this involves a high school and a college. The credits apply both to high school diploma requirements and college graduation requisites.

What are the Benefits of Dual Enrollment?

Students in a dual-enrollment program benefit in several ways.

• The programs make transition from high school to college smoother. Students can see what college courses entail without being overwhelmed by the classes and a new environment at one time.
• A dual enrollment program allows students to sample different classes and a range of coursework before deciding on a college major. This is especially helpful in planning a schedule when the student is enrolled as a full-time college student because many requisite courses are offered during the same time slots and students may have to wait a semester or more to take those classes.
• Students enrolled in dual programs who are not in advanced placement can demonstrate, on their transcripts, the ability to handle a complex course load. This information is used by colleges to predict student success and to decide which applicants to admit.
• Dual-enrollment students have access to more courses than their high schools may offer.
• Credits not only apply to high school diploma requirements but may be applied toward college graduation. That means students could graduate earlier from a college. Not only does this factor allow graduates to begin their careers sooner, but it saves money.

Who is Eligible for Dual Enrollment

Eligibility guidelines for dual enrollment vary be state. Usually, candidates must be at least 16 years old. They must be high school sophomores, juniors or seniors and they have to maintain a 2.5 to a 3.0 GPA. They must score high on initial placement exams and demonstrate by their performance in regular high school classes that they can succeed in college classes. In addition, students need permission from parents or guardians and the high school principal or guidance counselor to take the classes.

How is Dual Enrollment Financed

Dual enrollment programs are financed in different ways, depending on where a student lives. Some states pay for the classes. Others require students to finance their own educations. Sometimes high schools and colleges decide which of the institutions will cover the costs and students are often asked to pay the fee up front. The cost of the classes and the materials is then refunded to the students upon successful completion of the classes.

Dual enrollment can be a good option for motivated students to get a head start on a college education. It is also a program that helps colleges in assessing students for later full-time admission. High schools benefit in being able to offer more classes without hiring additional teachers. The trend toward allowing dual enrollment is a boon to all concerned.

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