Are Dual Enrollment Courses Worth the Effort?

Are Dual Enrollment Courses Worth the Effort?

Many students around the country spend endless hours and nights cramming in rigorous material just so that they can enter the college of their choice. For many students living in the U.S., it’s a “hard, knock life” devoting themselves to their studies, rather than enjoying the last remaining years of their childhood. Many students sign up for AP, AICE, and dual enrollment classes so that when the time for applying for colleges comes, they can get into a respectable school. But the question at hand is whether it is worth it to fit all three of those academic challenges into a student’s busy schedule. Leaving the question: is dual enrollment worth the effort?

“Dual enrollment can be an excellent opportunity for students to broaden their knowledge base while also receiving both high school and college credit for classes that are not offered on the high school campus,” says Olympic Heights’ Olympians Advanced Placement Academy (OAPA) and Cambridge AICE Coordinator Ms. Kelly Lawrence.

By taking college classes during high school, students don’t have to pay for the tuition and fees naturally associated when high school grads enter college. This statement can be true of several AP/ AICE and dual enrollment classes depending on the college of choice. Students who are involved in dual enrollment are placed in classes with students much older than they are, and it can be a real eye-opener to what college campus life is like.

Olympic Height’s Sophomore Meer Hossain took College Algebra online and Speech at Palm Beach State College, and she declares that it was “a great way to experience more than what you can in a high school environment – which is really great.”

Students who are taking AP and AICE classes during their high school careers are characteristically the ones debating if they should partake in dual enrollment. For instance, many students in OAPA have been offered the opportunity to dual enroll, but ultimately decide not to due to the overwhelming amount of work accompanying those rigorous AP and AICE classes they are strongly encouraged to take by their mentors and peers.

However, this should not discourage students because usually the teens that partake in dual enrollment are still successful regardless. Lawrence comments, “Any student who is eligible to dual enroll can benefit tremendously by doing so.” She also adds, “Any hard-working student who has been successful taking AICE and/or AP classes is typically just as successful taking dual enrollment classes.”

Hossain also agrees that dual enrollment is a fantastic opportunity and is definitely worth it if you are up for a challenge. Hossain took AP Human Geography last year and is now in AP World and AP European History, and she claims that compared to the AP classes, the college classes that she took were not much harder. Her experience being in an AP class prepared her for what she was going to expect in the college class. She asserts, “From what I know, I would say that both are at a similar level.”

Another growing dispute facing OH students and thousands of other adolescents throughout the country is whether it is ultimately better to take AP classes or to dual enroll. According to Lawrence, “If a course is offered on the high school campus, college admissions officers prefer the student take AICE or AP over the DE.” For example, if someone wants to take a mathematics course but cannot decide if they want to take it as an AP class or at their local college, it is eventually more beneficial to take it as an AP class.

But with the decision of taking AP classes over dual enrollment comes the frenzy of securing a 3, 4, or 5 on the AP exam. Getting a five on the AP exam communicates to colleges that that the student not only can handle college-level work, but has also mastered the subject matter. With dual enrollment there is no international test at the end of the year such as with the AP and AICE tests; instead, the student just needs to pass the class with good grades to show that he or she comprehends college-level material.

When The Torch asked Dr. Nathan Cohen, a Harvard and Cornell University grad who sat on admission decisions at Boston University his perspective on the college enrollment process, he verbalized, “The actual AP exam score, assuming it’s a four or five, tends to be of little interest to colleges. In fact, they would prefer that you not ask for credits when you enroll because they feel the college course is more rigorous and telling. And, they want the tuition money.”

Cohen’s opinion on dual enrollment is that “there are only a very limited set of circumstances when high school students should take college courses in high school. The reason they are frowned upon by the top colleges is that students usually take these courses at junior colleges, and such equivalent courses tend to not exist at the top-tier colleges.”

All things considered, it is ultimately the student’s choice whether he or she wants to take on dual enrollment classes. It is not the teacher’s, the counselor’s, or even the parents’, but the student’s. If a student feels like he or she wants a challenge and thinks he or she will be successful, then the student should take the opportunity to live the college experience early. Additionally, if a student believes that you will have a better chance of getting selected into a suitable college, then he or she should go for it.