What Is Dual Enrollment and What Are Its Benefits?

The step from high school to college can feel more like a leap, but there are ways to soften the landing. For example, concurrent enrollment and dual enrollment (sometimes called dual credit) can help you save money during college and prepare you academically so you can show up to your first college class feeling confident and optimistic. But what is dual enrollment, exactly, and how can you get started?

What Is Dual Enrollment?

Dual enrollment allows high school students to get a head start on college. These programs vary by state, but, generally speaking, they allow high school students to take college-level classes and earn college and high school credits at the same time. Students may take these classes on a college campus or online. Sometimes, colleges partner with their local school district to offer college-level courses at area high schools. These courses are typically more academically challenging than ordinary high school classes.

Some people use the phrases dual enrollment and concurrent enrollment interchangeably, but they have slightly different meanings. Dual enrollment refers to courses that earn college and high school credit at the same time. With concurrent enrollment classes, you usually only receive college credit.

What Are the Benefits of Dual Enrollment?

As with any major life change, transitioning from high school to college can be both exciting and overwhelming. It’s a big step, but dual enrollment can help pave the way.

Dual enrollment programs help you get a head start on college by exposing you to college-level coursework before you’re officially a college student. This can help give you a better sense of expectations and workload, building your confidence and supporting academic strength. In fact, studies show that dual enrollment has a positive impact on students, including college success, enrollment, and completion.

By earning college credits ahead of time, you may also be able to shorten your graduation time or open up opportunities for internships, electives, or even a double major. Dual enrollment can also help cut college costs by shaving off room and board fees. In addition, tuition may be lower for dual-enrolled students than for traditional college students, depending on the partnership between the high school and the university.

What Does the Dual Enrollment Process Look Like?

If you’re interested in dual enrollment, you’ll need to take a few steps to get started.

Research Schools That Offer Dual Enrollment

Check out the websites of colleges and universities in your community—but don’t stop there. Since many colleges offer online course options, broaden your search to universities elsewhere with dual enrollment (or concurrent enrollment) options. Connect with the schools’ academic services departments to help you identify available courses.

Meet with Your High School Counselor

Your high school counselor has likely helped students with dual enrollment opportunities in the past. Seek advice and lean on their expertise. Discuss why you’re interested in dual enrollment and share some of the universities (and specific courses) you’re looking into.

Apply to Your Chosen College

While every college is different, most will require you to submit an application, transcripts, and other supporting documents, such as a letter from your high school counselor, to enroll in a course. Make sure you understand any associated deadlines and mark them on your phone, calendar, or other organizer to help you stay on track.

Transfer Your Credits

As soon as you know where you intend to go to college, consult the university’s registrar office or student services center about the process of transferring credits. Not all course credits will transfer to all colleges. If you have a couple of top choices, run the class or classes you’re considering by each of them so you don’t hit any bumps down the road.

Azusa Pacific University makes it easy to transfer dual enrollment credits. Learn more about transferring courses to APU so you can jump into college ready to succeed.