Earlier this year, CEA was approached by Colorado Christian University to submit some of our courses for consideration in their Dual Enrollment program. After a couple months of work—collecting all the relevant course materials, getting transcripts for our teachers, submitting it all for approval—we ended up with ten approved courses certified for Dual Enrollment credit. These are our courses, taught by our teachers, but available for college credit! We are incredibly excited about the new avenues this opens up for our school, and especially our students in this new 2015-16 school year and also the years to come.
What exactly are Dual Enrollment Courses?
Dual Enrollment courses are called “dual” because they count as both college and high school credit. This can be great for students for a few different reasons. First, students in essence are “killing two birds with one stone” in the sense that they are completing high school and college requirements at the same time. Second, when dual enrollment courses are taken through an accredited institution* those courses typically can be transferred to a student’s future college after they graduate high school. These courses often can count as “General Ed” courses; students who take them during their high school years can save quite a bit of time and money, since Dual Enrollment courses are more cost-effective than paying for a typical college course. Finally, Dual Enrollment courses are college-level; they require strong academic skills as well as a heavy dose of self-discipline. For students planning to head off to college, Dual Enrollment courses are a great way for students to “get their feet wet” and experience the rigor of a college-level course. However, these courses are still taught by our own CEA teachers who are very attentive to students’ needs as they transition to this level of work.
What is the difference between Dual Enrollment and AP?
At CEA, our Dual Enrollment courses take into account all of the work for the entire course. Often, for AP students to receive college credit for the course, they must complete all the coursework and pass a high-stakes test in early May. In Apex, we are using AP-level courses for our Dual Enrollment classes, because they are the most rigorous courses in our curriculum. However, students enrolled in the Dual Enrollment version of the course are not required to take the AP exam at the end in order to receive college credit. We prefer this, because it helps reward students who are phenomenal workers, but who might struggle with high-stakes, high-pressure exams. We feel that the grades for the whole semester—assessed with a blend of multiple choice and written assessments—are a much better representation of a student’s work in the classroom and their preparedness for college. Thankfully, for our Dual Enrollment courses, the AP exam is not required to receive credit for the course. However, we still do offer the AP courses for students who prefer that to the Dual Enrollment option.
Is Dual Enrollment right for my student?
If your student is academically strong and well disciplined, they are a good candidate for one of our Dual Enrollment courses. We look for students, primarily juniors and seniors, who have been successful in honors-level courses earlier in their high school career. Certain Dual Enrollment courses, especially in math and science, have prerequisite courses that must be completed before a student would be prepared to take the Dual Enrollment version of the course. Our history and English courses typically require a writing sample to ensure that the prospective student can handle the rigorous writing requirements. Students should also be ready for a challenge and interested in the subject matter. Finally, students who have an idea of the colleges they will be applying to should reach out to admissions counselors at those schools to check and confirm that our courses will transfer easily and meet relevant requirements.
In the end, we are incredibly excited for the new opportunities these courses will provide for our students. We know that many of our students are certainly capable of succeeding in these courses; we are hopeful that this will provide a way for them to be challenged in their thinking and their academic skills as well as saving them time and money in future college expenses. We are also hopeful that this will continue to draw new students into our school who are looking for Dual Enrollment opportunities.
Our Dual Enrollment Coordinator, Miss Gentile, is happy to help students with any additional questions or requests for information. She is the one who will guide students through the process of navigating the Dual Enrollment courses and making sure to register with CCU for college credit. She is also available to answer questions about course equivalencies that might be helpful to discuss with prospective colleges.
*Our partnership college is Colorado Christian University, which is accredited through the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. A full list of their accreditations can be found here: http://www.ccu.edu/accreditations/
Our school is also accredited by Advanc-ED and SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools).