Pros and Cons of Dual Enrollment

Facebook icon Twitter icon Print icon Email icon
Kathryn Flynn

By Kathryn Flynn

May 29, 2019

Students can save on college costs by earning dual-enrollment credits in high school. High school students who complete dual-enrollment classes generally need to take fewer classes in college. Dual-enrollment students are also more likely to attend and graduate from college.

However, there are disadvantages to taking dual-enrollment classes in high school. For example, not all colleges accept dual-enrollment credit. Dual enrollment may also interfere with a student’s high school schedule, especially if classes are not offered at the high school.

Consider these advantages and disadvantages of dual-enrollment classes when deciding whether or not to take dual-enrollment classes. 

PRO: Dual enrollment is a cost-effective way to earn college credit

Dual-enrollment classes cost much less than a traditional college class, with tuition prices ranging from $0 to $400. Dual enrollment allows students to get a jump start on their college degree and enter the workforce sooner. 

In some states, dual-enrollment tuition costs are covered by the state or the high school district. In nine states students are responsible for paying for dual-enrollment classes. Families may use a 529 plan to pay for dual-enrollment tuition, but costs of books and other supplies are not considered qualified 529 plan expenses. 

PRO: Dual-enrollment students are more likely to attend and graduate from college

A 2017 national study by the Community College Research Center (CCRC) reported that 88% of students who earned dual-enrollment credit in high school attended college after high school, and most earned a certificate or degree within five years.

A 2017 Illinois study by the American Educational Research Association found that students who took dual-enrollment classes were more nine percentage points more likely to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree than their peers who did not take dual-enrollment classes. 

PRO: Taking dual-enrollment classes can prepare students for college

Dual enrollment allows students to experience actual college coursework and develop good study habits before they start college. Dual-enrollment classes include introductory college coursework in Humanities, English, Math, Social Studies, Science and more.

Earning dual-enrollment credits may also boost students’ confidence when they begin college. This is helpful for first-generation college students and students who may be hesitant to leave home to attend college. 

PRO: Dual-credit looks good on college applications

College admission staff may consider dual-enrollment grades during the admissions process. Students who earn good grades in dual-enrollment classes may have a competitive edge over their peers when applying to colleges.

By successfully completing a dual-enrollment class, students demonstrate that they are capable of handling college-level coursework. 

CON: Not all colleges accept dual-enrollment credit

It’s important for students to research their options and meet with their school counselor before enrolling in a dual-enrollment class. At some colleges, dual-enrollment credits are accepted but not counted toward a degree. At other colleges, dual-enrollment credits are not accepted at all.

Public in-state colleges are more likely to accept dual-enrollment credits than private colleges or out-of-state colleges.

CON: Dual-enrollment classes may interfere with a student’s high school schedule

Dual-enrollment classes are taken in addition to a student’s regular high school course load. Some dual-enrollment classes may overlap with high school schedules, especially if the student has to commute to a community college to attend a dual-enrollment class.

High school students who take dual-enrollment classes have less time for extracurricular activities, which are also important to include on a college application.

CON: Dual-enrollment grades are part of a student’s permanent record

Dual-enrollment grades are actual high school and college grades that are included on the student’s high school and college transcripts. Students who fail dual-enrollment classes risk hurting their chances at college admissions and not graduating high school on time.

A good place to start:

See the best 529 plans, personalized for you