By Ben Lawlor.
Dual Enrollment is something many people talk about here at Heritage, but what is it really for? Rio Salado, the school that sponsors Heritage Academy’s students, defines it as “earning college credit- all while still in high school.” With dual enrollment, students have been able to earn two full years of college credit before graduating, effectively enabling them to start going to college with a major head start. In one of the college seminars last year, Mrs. Hale phrased it in a way that made me realize just how much that really is. She made the point that if you manage to complete all the necessary classes to earn your Associate’s Degree in high school, you can enter college as a junior. This stuck with me ever since because it shows just how valuable dual enrollment can be. Imagine if after finishing 8th grade, you go straight to being a junior because you skip two whole years. The amount of time it saves is astounding.
There are a few reasons why people may choose to opt out of this opportunity. People think that because it’s a college level class, it’ll be harder than normal. However, this is not entirely true. It is the same class you would otherwise be taking, you just happen to get college credit for it. By taking the dual enrollment classes now, you don’t have to take them again in college where you pay more.
The biggest drawback, however, is the price. Just because it’s cheaper than going to college doesn’t make it cheap. Each class may be between $200 and $300 per semester per class, whereas it can be several thousand. Many students may not be able to afford to get their Associate’s Degree because every course needs to be paid for. However, even if you cannot afford to get every credit necessary to go all the way, I encourage you to take as many as you can; just because you don’t get a full two-year head start doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get as much as you can. The fewer number of classes you need to take during college, the better off you’ll be.
The total number of credits required in order to receive your associate’s is 60. This sounds like a lot, and that’s because it is. Each class you take with college credit gives three to four credits. That means it takes fifteen to twenty classes to earn it completely, but that’s twenty classes over eight total semesters of eight classes each. This semester alone, I am taking four Dual Enrollment classes and earning 15 credits. Each year of school opens new classes that can be used for dual enrollment, so if you keep at it, you can achieve something few have. Regardless of your financial situation, I encourage you to do as much as you can as it is one of the greatest investments you can make during high school.