Teens who are enrolled in both their high school and a community college or university are considered dual-enrolled. They complete high school and college-level courses concurrently, and amass high school and college units at the same time. Dual enrollment has several benefits: it challenges teens and keeps them engaged, even in the midst of senioritis; it gives high school students a taste of college-level courses; and it looks impressive on a college application, because it demonstrates a student's ability to do that level of academic work.
Not all community colleges or universities welcome high school students. Some prefer that students take summer sessions, others discourage it for budgetary reasons - their classes may already be overcrowded. Teens who are interested in dual enrollment should discuss the possibilities with their high school counselor first.
The most common dual-enrollments are tied to math or language classes, particularly when high school students cannot take an essential class at their own school. Here are two classic scenarios:
- For some teens, it’s a matter of running out of high school math classes. Perhaps they did algebra as sixth or seventh graders, and did a midday commute between middle and high schools for geometry or even algebra-trig in eighth grade. By the time they hit junior or senior year of high school, they've finished calculus, and their midday commute has shifted to a nearby college.
- High schools offer Spanish, French and other foreign language courses, but students who want to take a different language - Mandarin, perhaps, or American Sign Language - may be able to do so at a nearby community college, if both their high school and the college agree.