As a junior in high school, I have quite a few more class options available to me than I have had in previous years. One of these is to take college classes in addition to my regular high school classes. This is called being a dual enrolled student.
I took my first dual enrollment class, College Algebra, last year. Dual enrollment classes can be taken in a variety of forms – at the high school, online, or at the college itself. The college classes are taken instead of the high school class of the same subject. For example, I am taking dual enrollment American History in place of taking regular or Advanced Placement U.S. History.
Many students take advantage of the option of college classes, but it is not a responsibility to be taken lightly. If the dual enrolled class is taken online or at the college campus, students are treated as adults. We are not constantly nagged by teachers to turn in work. We are not given detentions for acting up in class or showing up late. Students get so used to their teachers being responsible for them that college classes can come as a shock to them. With no one to remind them, the responsibility falls on the students themselves.
With that being said, dual enrollment classes can also be a huge learning experience, and not just with the content being taught. Students learn to keep up with their own work, schedule their own tests, and sit in a college classroom. The advance level work prepares students for the type of work they will be doing when they actually get to college full time.
Choosing classes can be stressful enough, but once they become a reality the real stress begins. Last week, as school reconvened after summer vacation, I had to go pick up my history textbook. Navigating the steps to get the textbook was a task in and of itself. The class is online, so I do not have to worry about reporting to the college campus. However, I do have to schedule my tests at the college throughout the course of the class.
As silly as it may sound, one of my favorite aspects of taking a dual enrollment class is the ability to take an off-campus period. While some students opt to work on their class in a computer lab at school for a class period, I did not. I was able to get a period off campus where I could go home and work on my class in peace and quiet. Being able to leave school an hour and a half early is quite bizarre. When I get to my car in the parking lot, there isn’t a soul in sight. It almost felt as if I was escaping prison the first time I left early (take that metaphor as you wish.)
I am extremely thankful to come from an area where taking dual enrollment classes are an option to me. Anyone who knows me knows that education is one of the most important things to me. The opportunity to further my education is something I am very appreciative of. As I begin this new school year, I hope that I am able to maintain my focus in my classes – especially my college classes. When students take their dual enrollment classes seriously and do not abuse the privilege, they can have a great experience. I am a firm believer that dual enrollment classes can help a student be successful now, as well as in the future.