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Dual Enrollment: What You Need To Know

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As a college-bound student, it may be worthwhile to try and earn some college credit while you’re still in high school. You can do that by taking AP classes and/or higher-level IB courses, but you have to pass certain exams in order to get college credit from those courses. You could also take some classes at a community college over the summer or even during the school year, but you will probably have to pay to take those classes.


Dual enrollment, on the other hand, is a way for you to gain college credit without any of those other constraints. What are dual enrollment courses? Where do you take them? How does it work? For those answers and more, read on.


What is Dual Enrollment?

Dual Enrollment, also sometimes referred to as Dual Credit, is a program in which a student can earn college credit by taking college-level classes in high school. Though it differs by state, Dual Credit classes will likely be offered via a partnership with your school and a local community college. These courses will be specially marked on all course enrollment forms.


Most of the time, you will be able to take Dual Enrollment courses either at your high school or online. Sometimes, however, you may have to go to the local community college to take the course, in which case you may have to take time outside of school hours to take a dual enrollment course.


Each school will have different dual enrollment courses that they offer, but they’re usually introductory college courses that you will need to take while you’re in college anyway. Many colleges will accept dual enrollment courses as a waiver for the corresponding college introductory course.


What are the Requirements?

In order to enroll in dual enrollment courses, a student has to meet certain standards. Each state has a different set of requirements and guidelines for their dual enrollment students, so you’ll need to check and see what the requirements are for your state. To see the comprehensive breakdown of the dual enrollment requirements by state, click here.


Most states allow 10-12th graders to enroll in dual enrollment courses, and they usually require that the student meet a minimum GPA requirement, usually around 3.0 or higher. Other than that, the course requirements vary.


Where Do You Take Dual Credit Courses?

The simple answer is: it depends. It depends on what your state mandates and what your high school/community college has arranged. Some schools allow dual enrollment courses to be taught at the high school itself. This way, a dual enrollment course could become part of your normal school schedule.


However, some courses require you to commute daily to the local community college, usually before or after normal high school hours. You may also be able to take a dual enrollment course online. Check with your high school counselor to see which of these options is offered by your school.


Why Should You Enroll in Dual Credit Courses?

There are many benefits to enrolling in dual credit courses, including:


  • Dual Credit Courses are real college classes, so students get a sense of what real college classwork is like
  • Some unique classes may only be available through the dual enrollment program
  • Most in-state colleges will likely accept your dual credit courses as college credit, provided that you meet a certain grade standard
  • These courses are a way to show colleges that you are capable of handling college-level coursework.
  • If there is no tuition involved with taking dual credit courses at your school, these will be by far the cheapest way to gain college credit.
  • Unlike AP classes, you don’t have to take a test to gain college credit through dual enrollment classes.

Can You Earn a Degree?

Probably not. There simply aren’t usually enough classes offered in a specific academic field through the dual credit program to allow students to earn even an associate’s degree. There may be other programs available at your local community college that would allow a student to get a degree while in high school, but the dual enrollment program almost never has that option.


However, it is worth noting that while you can’t earn a degree through dual enrollment classes, you can use those classes to help you decide what academic discipline you would like to major in during college. These college-level courses are going to be your best indicator of whether you’d enjoy studying a certain subject in the future, so really try to be introspective while you’re taking these courses and think about whether you could really delve into each particular subject for four years.


Any Downsides?

Overall, the Dual Enrollment Program is a slam dunk logistically and financially. However, in order to make an informed decision, there are a few potential drawbacks that you should be aware of:


  • Colleges do not universally accept dual enrollment courses, especially for an out-of-state student.
  • Sometimes, dual credit courses require you to travel to a community college early in the morning or late at night. You might be spending a lot of extra time at school beyond normal school hours.
  • Dual credit courses are real college classes, which means that they have the rigor and intensity of real college classes as well. It may be too much to handle dual enrollment courses plus your regular high school course load and extracurricular activities.


How To Get Started

If you’re interested in the dual enrollment program, we at CollegeVine recommend that you make an appointment with your guidance counselor as soon as possible to discuss what your options are.


He or she will know what the requirements are, what types of classes are available, and how you would have to take them (i.e.online, at your high school, or at a community college). You can also try to find this information online, but you may not find information specific to your high school. Each school district’s dual enrollment course offerings tend to be a little bit different.



If you’re looking for the cheapest, potentially easiest way to earn college credit in high school, dual enrollment is a great option for you. You’ll get to experience college-level coursework while potentially earning college credit at the same time.


Be careful though: the dual enrollment program is not embraced by colleges as widely as the AP and IB program is. The colleges you may be hoping to apply to may not take give college credit for dual enrollment courses, in which case AP/IB classes would be your best bet. If you’re interested in taking dual enrollment courses, talk to your guidance counselor as soon as possible.


Want to learn more about earning college credit while you’re still in high school? Check out these previous blog posts:


Everything You Need To Know About Pre-AP Classes

Earning College Credit In High School: What You Need To Know

6 Tips For Succeeding In Your First AP/IB Class

How To Earn an IB Diploma


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Sadhvi Mathur
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Sadhvi is a recent graduate from the University of California, Berkeley, where she double majored in Economics and Media Studies. Having applied to over 8 universities, each with different application platforms and requirements, she is eager to share her knowledge now that her application process is over. Other than writing, Sadhvi's interests include dancing, playing the piano, and trying not to burn her apartment down when she cooks!