Preparing for College

Dual Enrollment for High School Seniors

Question: Next year I plan on going to college on early admission/dual enrollment instead of finishing off my senior year at my current high school. I know the junior college within my city allows this, but I was wondering where I could find a list of other colleges that accept early admissions.

Though the terminology may vary somewhat from school to school or region to region, there is a difference between “Dual Enrollment” and “Early Admission.”

Typically, under a Dual Enrollment program, a student is still officially a member of her high school senior class while she takes her courses at a nearby college. This is often a community college but not necessarily. Some Dual Enrollment students take all their classes on a college campus; others take only some. Many return to their high schools in the afternoon for extracurricular activities, just as if they still attended there full time, and they graduate from high school with their class in the spring. If this is the type of experience you are aiming for, your high school counselor should be able to give you the names of participating colleges. If he or she mentions only the junior college you cited, but there are other neighboring institutions that are more attractive to you, you should certainly ask if you could take your classes there instead.

At the end of the school year, many dual-enrolled students apply to attend other institutions, not the one where they spent their Dual Enrollment year. College admission officials tend to be impressed by high school seniors who have sought a more challenging academic experience through Dual Enrollment. Note, however, that, while they may welcome you to their campuses, they may not give you college credit for the courses you took while you were dual-enrolled. Different colleges have different policies in that regard. Some will tell you that since you were taking those classes to fulfill high school graduation requirements, then they cannot be used to fill college requirements as well. There are no across-the-board answers on this one, so be prudent and make sure you are clear on credit rules at each institution you are considering.

Early Admission is something else altogether. Go to this Ask the Dean response about Early Admission in detail. EA students are not “dual enrolled.” They have actually applied to colleges in their junior year, just as if it was the senior year. Once admitted, they matriculate following 11th grade. As you will read in that Ask the Dean column, depending on the regulations in your high school, you may have to be approved for Early Admission by your administration, and you might graduate at the end of 11th grade when you leave your high school, or you may have to wait until you have completed your first college year.

Most colleges and universities will give full consideration to Early Admission applicants who have the endorsement of their teachers and counselor, but they do tend to scrutinize these candidates very carefully to make sure that they are both academically and emotionally prepared to start college at a younger-than-usual age.