Dual enrollment gives head start for college

Because dual enrollment offers available college courses for free, students like senior Brad Bentz could save between $3,000 and $12,000 in college expenses [based off of UCF’s average semester tuition] as well as earn enough college credits, 91 in Bentz’s case, for their Associate Degree, entering college as a junior.
Though the dual enrollment policy has changed this year due to a new rule only allowing students to dual enroll in classes required for their high school diploma, they can still opt to take all their required classes as dual enrollment classes while technically being considered a high school student, completing both college and high school credit simultaneously.
“I wanted to get a head start on college, so I decided to go to UCF full time my senior year,” senior Esther Lynn, who will have obtained her AA degree before her first year of college said. “Now I can take classes required for my major like Calculus III and Microbiology because I had already knocked out most of my general education classes with AP courses.”
Besides the free college credits, dual enrollment students also earn a 5.0 weighted credit for taking the class, which students may use to boost their GPA.
“My dual enrollment classes were an alternative to taking standard electives that would lower my GPA and make me look less competitive when applying to college,” senior Lauren Holladay said.
However, there is disagreement about whether dual enrollment classes are easier than Advanced Placement classes and thus an easier option to obtaining college credit.
“I found AP Psychology and AP Statistics to be fairly easy and received 5’s on both exams; I find my music history class at UCF to be more challenging because my entire course grade is based off only five tests,” Holladay said.
Holladay, who will have 60 college credits under her belt by her first year of college, felt that compared to AP classes taken in high school, college courses required more individual studying and self-discipline because of the reduced classroom time.
Not all dual enrollment students take college classes because they ran out of AP courses or to get ahead in college either.
“I thought taking dual enrollment was a great way to get the college classroom experience,” senior Chris De La Cruz said. “In these classes, it is your responsibility to make sure you keep up with assignments because the professor will not hold your hand through the course like a high school teacher would.”
Students who plan on knocking out college credit with dual enrollment should be careful when applying to universities though, as many colleges prefer to accept AP courses for college credit over dual enrollment courses.
“AP exams test students nation-wide, leveling the playing field and establishing a student’s credibility for earning the college credit,” guidance counselor Charlotte Barolet said. “I always tell students, look at the four year university you want to attend, then look at what kind of impact your dual enrollment classes will have there.”