Madeline Riley

Parents in our office are constantly seeking ways to lower their child’s cost of attendance at university, and often feel stuck on how to achieve a lower sticker price. Of course loans, scholarships, and other obvious forms of financial aid can significantly contribute to paying for college, but there are also methods less dependent on financials.

Families can save money on college and students can finish college faster with the help of one growing program.

Dual Enrollment programs, or agreements that allow high school students to take classes at local colleges, have been expanding throughout the nation. A new bipartisan, bicameral bill in Congress has proposed an increase in the funding of these programs so that more students could earn college credits in high school.

Dual Enrollment is usually pursued by upperclassmen seeking more rigorous or more focused classes than are available in their high school. The programs have are associated with multiple benefits including a smoother transition from secondary school to higher education, higher high school graduation rates, higher college enrollment rates, higher high school and college grade point averages, higher rates of college completion, early college graduation, and decreased college costs.

The advantages of Dual Enrollment are significant. The value of these programs, however, does depend on the way in which students choose to take advantage of them and why they’re pursuing higher-level courses. Ensure that taking college courses in high school is right for your child by following our checklist.

If a class meets the following criteria, then it is a good option for students:

The course is not available at your child’s high school

If your student could study the same topic as rigorously with an AP or IB course, then it isn’t the right class to pursue at a local college


You’re confident that credits earned at the local college will transfer to your child’s future college 

For each college that your student plans to apply to, see how many credits a Dual Enrollment class will earn him/her. Because transfer credit policies vary dramatically by school, checking how Dual Enrollment credits will apply to a four-year college could also narrow down your student’s applications. If finances are a concern, Dual Enrollment credits could save thousands of dollars worth of tuition at some universities and nothing at others.


Your child is ready for the more demanding college-level courses

College courses can be substantially more difficult and time-consuming than high school classes. Make sure your student is ready to commit to a Dual Enrollment program and has the tools to succeed at a higher level.


The college course(s) will not dominate your child’s schedule

If a student’s Dual Enrollment program will interfere with his/her regular classwork, job, or extracurricular activities then the college course may be more trouble than it’s worth. Remember: earning college credit should enhance your child’s resume, but not at the expensive of other activities that are equally important.


Your child will be given an opportunity to explore their interests

Taking a film studies class if your student knows full well that he/she wants to pursue engineering is not an effective use of a Dual Enrollment program. Students should take classes in the field or fields that they’re interested in, at levels of difficulty or scope that are not available at their high school.

Dual Enrollment is also a great opportunity to decide if an area of study/department truly is something your child wants to pursue at their full-time university. If they’re deciding between studying political science or economics, taking classes in each subject while in high school could make them less likely to change their major later, and demonstrate their focus to schools they apply to for full-time enrollment.


At Parros College Planning, we assist students from as early on as 8th grade. We help children and parents design a strategy for high school that will help them get into college and pay less for it; this includes investigating opportunities like Dual Enrollment that will decrease the cost of college.

We’d love to meet you! Come in for a free consultation or give us a call to discuss your college planning needs.