March 14, 2016

Enroll Your High School Student in College Classes: Here’s How

If your student is still in high school, have you thought about the transition to college yet? Do you wish your student could get a head start and begin earning college credits while still earning their high school diploma?

This article will aim to give you some of the benefits and potential drawbacks to enrolling your student in college classes while they are still in high school.

Students who are able to earn college credit in high school can shave as much as a full semester off their college career.

Dual Enrollment, PSEO, and AP

There are generally a few terms thrown around when it comes to high schoolers earning college credit. You may hear the terms “dual enrollment”, “PSEO” (Post-secondary education options) and “AP” (advanced placement).

For the purposes of this discussion, dual enrollment and PSEO can be considered the same thing. In brief, states that offer dual enrollment allows high school students to be enrolled in a college at the same time as high school.

The local government sets up agreements between high schools and local community colleges to ensure that college instruction is at a quality level and that the credits earned will be transferable to other colleges once the student graduates high school.

AP is quite different in that the student is not enrolled in a college. They will typically take a course and if their letter grade is high enough they can take a test. If they score high enough on the test, they will earn college credit which may or may not apply to the college of their choosing.

AP can be a good choice for families and students, but there are some risks involved, as college credit is only earned by students who are able to pass the tests and may not be accepted everywhere.  


There are a number of benefits for students and parents when kids take part in dual enrollment. Students get a chance to work on their college degree while still completing their high school diploma. This can give students a head start in the world and can decrease the number of years they’ll spend in college after high school.

According to the ACT organization, dual enrollment programs increase the likelihood that a student will complete their post-secondary education and often with better results.

Depending on your state, you may find that some or all of the dual enrollment costs are paid for you. States like Minnesota, Iowa and Louisiana will cover all or most of a student’s costs to participate in their dual enrollment program. Most states will share the cost between student\family, school district and the state itself. Details vary by state so be sure to research before you dive in.


Not all states participate in a dual enrollment program. Even fewer states pay the majority of costs associated with dual enrollment. According to the Education Commission of the States, four states do not currently have a dual enrollment program in place. Nine states have a policy in place, but the student or parent is responsible for all costs. Just four states have policies in place to cover the majority of costs.

If you don’t think your student is ready for college-level classes, you may want to consider keeping them on their normal high school track. In order to earn the college credits from a dual enrollment program, students may need to obtain a certain letter grade or above for the credits to qualify.

Also, depending on the state and their dual enrollment policy, if your student thinks they may attend a private college you will want to make sure the dual enrollment credits earned will be transferable. Most dual enrollment policies will ensure public institutions will accept credits, but no guarantees can be made regarding private institutions.

Overall dual enrollment can provide a great benefit to students and their families. Students learn the ropes of college before diving in head first and in many states, tuition will be reduced or potentially covered for you. Be sure to explore your options and talk it over with your student so you don’t miss out on a great opportunity.

Has your child built their college list yet? Start here.

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