In two earlier posts, we discussed possible timelines for a college education. Many students currently find that they need more than the traditional four years to successfully complete their college degree. Other students may attempt to complete their college education in less than four years in order to save on tuition fees or to get into the workplace sooner. Each student’s needs, motivation, abilities and financial situation are different.
One path that some students consider, in order to speed their college experience, is dual registration. Dual registration involves high school students enrolling in college courses for credit at the same time that they are completing their high school work. They receive credit for the courses at both the high school and college level. It is sometimes called dual credit, concurrent enrollment, dual enrollment or joint enrollment. Dual registration is not for everyone – in fact, a relatively small number of high school students attempt it – but for highly motivated and talented students, or students with particularly focused interests, it may be just the right thing to engage them during their final year of high school and to allow them to begin working on their college degree while still in high school. This may allow them to save time and money when they enter college.
Although a relatively small percentage of students engage in, or take advantage of, the opportunity for dual registration, many colleges and universities provide the opportunity. According to a report released by the National Center for Education Statistics in 2005, 57% of all colleges nationwide enrolled high school students during the 2002-2003 school year. Nearly 71% of high schools offered this type of program, with approximately 5% of high school students taking college level classes. That number is probably higher today.
Eligibility for dual registration varies by high school and college. Students may be required to take the SAT or ACT and submit their scores. Students who are considering this route should work closely with their guidance counselor to determine their eligibility and to choose appropriate courses. College courses are usually rigorous and it is important that students not overload themselves. All transcripts from college courses taken as part of a dual registration program will need to be submitted along with any future college applications.
The costs of college registration may occasionally be borne by the school board and courses are sometimes offered at the high school if enough students are enrolled. However, more often, the costs of college registration must be carried by the individual student. Students also need to pay for the cost of textbooks, and they should be prepared to travel to campus to take classes. Occasionally, dual enrollment courses may be offered on-line.
Dual registration is not necessarily a desirable thing for most high school students. It requires extra effort – both in the planning stage and in taking the course(s). It may mean that the student will need to sacrifice some high school experiences in order to travel to campus and/or complete the extra work. However, for highly motivated or academically talented students, this program may provide a wonderful challenge. It may also help many students ease the transition from high school to college. For students who are focused on completing college on an accelerated timeline, this program may provide an important head start.
It is important that parents and students consider carefully, and discuss fully, the advantages and disadvantages of dual registration prior to enrolling. Students should work closely with their high school guidance counselor and any staff or faculty members available at the college. For the right student, with the right program and guidance, dual registration can provide a wonderful start to the college experience.