Hear from students and admission counselors about the dual enrollment experience
Do you feel like everyone you know is taking dual enrollment courses? Are you considering dual enrollment courses? Better yet, are you currently taking dual enrollment courses?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are not alone! According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, “Enrollment has nearly doubled in a recent four-year stretch, from about 27,000 students in fiscal year 2016 to nearly 52,000 students in fiscal year 2019, state records show.”
Dual Enrollment in Georgia is a state-sponsored initiative that allows students to take courses for college credit while they are still in high school. The initiative prides itself on giving students a “head start” on college.
Agnes Scott has its own version of dual enrollment called joint-enrollment. I know what you’re thinking: why not just call it dual enrollment? Because we are a private institution, we do not technically fall under the state sponsored program and use joint-enrollment to differentiate our program. They function very similarly; high school students are still earning college credit by taking classes at Agnes Scott. However, there are some differences when it comes to the admission process and financial aid. For more information, please visit our joint-enrollment website.
While most students are familiar with dual enrollment, they may not know what the experience entails. Students have a wide range of honors, AP, IB, and dual enrollment options, and it’s difficult to know what might be best for each student. To help explain what the dual enrollment process is really like, I interviewed three Scotties who completed dual enrollment in high school.
Gabby Hall, a Dekalb Early College Academy (DECA) alum from the Class of 2020 and incoming first year student, said, “[dual enrollment] helped me to understand the college system. I learned how to manage my time well. I had lots of free time and was able to choose my classes.” Dual enrollment is more than just a head start; for students like Gabby, it offers freedom and flexibility. At DECA, dual enrollment is actually the norm, and all students graduate with an Associate’s degree.
Other states have similar programs to Georgia’s. Taylor Yates, a rising sophomore at Agnes Scott, completed dual enrollment through a local community college in Washington. One thing that stuck out to Taylor was the classroom diversity. She was learning alongside students who were her parents’ age and students who had very different life experiences from her. At times this could be a bit intimidating, since she was often one of the youngest people in the room; however, she learned to embrace the discomfort and understand her value. “Don’t be afraid to be involved in class,” she said. “Speak up. You have as much power as anyone else at the college.”
There are academic gains with dual enrollment as well. For example, Gabby mentioned that dual enrollment helped her build better relationships with professors and better understand their expectations. “Dual enrollment makes you understand how important it is to talk to professors. They want you to come to office hours and take initiative,” she said.
While some students stay at their joint enrollment institution for all four years and earn their bachelor’s degree, some use their experience as a launching pad and choose to attend another institution after high school graduation. Rahquel Garcon, a DECA alum of 2020 and incoming first year Scottie, told us that “dual enrollment really helps you get a feel for a college campus, and you can use that later on with college decisions. I knew I wanted a liberal arts college because I wanted freedom and flexibility in my studies… being in an open minded environment was also a big deal for me.” If you choose to pursue another post-secondary institution, it’s important to make sure your credits will transfer. Exploring an institutions’ website or contacting the admission/registrar’s office are both good places to start.
Even though Rahquel had the advantage of taking dual enrollment courses before college, she still is looking forward to growing and challenging herself at Agnes Scott in the fall. “I know I’ll have to step up my game and prepare for more difficult coursework. I want to be even more communicative with my classmates and professors.”
Clearly there are advantages to students, but how do admission committees feel about dual enrollment courses? Each institution varies, but Agnes Scott uses holistic review and looks at the courses a student has taken in the context of what was offered at their high school. For example, our admission committee likes to see that students have challenged themselves and gone beyond the minimum requirements needed to graduate. What each high school offers varies, so we take the school curriculum into account. The bottom line is that we want to see you have taken advantage of the more rigorous opportunities given to you, and one way of showing that could be through dual enrollment.
Signing up for dual enrollment can sometimes be a leap of faith. It pushes you out of your comfort zone and introduces a whole new learning environment with students who may be older than you. Here is Rahquel’s advice if you’re feeling a little indecisive: “It’s important to have confidence in your dual enrollment courses,” she says. “Even if you don’t know what you want to major in or are worried about making the right decision for your future, it’s important to push forward. Even if you don’t have it all figured out, don’t be afraid; you can’t go wrong.”
Alexsis Skeen is the Assistant Director of Admission at Agnes Scott College and has been at Agnes Scott since 2017. She enjoys biking, reading, and spending time with family. Her obsession with buffalo dip and and spicy Schezwan noodles are legendary.