College Credit in High School
High schoolers who earn college credit now can save time — and tuition — later.
Is your high school junior or senior motivated and academically ambitious? Are you (and who isn’t?) looking to trim college tuition expenses? If you answered yes to these questions, why not explore ways your teen can start earning college credit now?
Dual enrollment programs — in which high schoolers take college courses and earn credit — expose bright students to a subject or level of study not typically available in high schools.
Online dual enrollment
Digital dual enrollment is a natural progression for technologically savvy schools. Here’s how it works: A local or state college — take the University of Delaware — opens select online courses to qualified high schoolers. In-state juniors and seniors register through their public high schools and complete the coursework on their own time. UD dual enrollment currently costs $620 per course, a substantial discount from the going in-state college student rate of $1,323 for a typical three credits.
UD’s digital offerings this fall include Intro to Social and Cultural Anthropology, Human Heredity and Environment and Economic Issues and Policies. These courses target a younger audience with study skill exercises specifically designed for high schoolers and additional professor Q&A sessions. Although digital enrollees don’t get the traditional campus experience, online instruction still challenges them to do college-level work and offers the opportunity to earn credit early and more affordably.
Campus-based dual enrollment
Penn State has successfully instituted dual enrollment at all of its campuses (click here and search specifics by campus location). To be considered, high schoolers submit a “non-degree” application, bolstered by parental permission and written support from their guidance department. A student can take no more than eight credits per semester, and only three high schoolers can be enrolled in a given course at the same campus. Erica Pulaski, associate director of enrollment management and retention at Penn State Abington, reports that this fall, 14 high school students (including home-schoolers) from six districts will take courses at this suburban Philadelphia campus.
Campus-based dual enrollment presents practical challenges its digital counterpart does not. Since Penn State does not provide transportation, for example, students must arrange to get to campus on their own. The timing of the desired PSU course must also fit into the student’s traditional high school academic schedule.
Despite such logistical issues, the benefits are many. For one, all Pennsylvania high schoolers accepted into the Penn State program receive a 50 percent tuition reduction. If a student takes even a few dual enrollment classes during high school and those credits can transfer to the college he eventually attends, the savings — both in tuition and undergraduate study time — can be substantial.
Kathy Astrue is a freelance writer and editor.