Editorial: Dual enrollment programs benefit students and parents

Published on Friday, 11 August 2017 13:54 - Written by

What if parents discovered a way to lower college costs, ease their child through college in less time, and still ensure the highest quality of education? We hope you’re sitting down for this - it exists. It’s called “dual enrollment” and it’s available now.

High school students can enroll in college classes, knocking time off their college careers and saving their parents money. Dual credit courses are becoming more and more popular - for good reason.

“Dual enrollment programs - aimed at giving high school students a leg up on college - have been around since the 1950s,” reports Anne Kim for Washington Monthly. “But with growing worries both about soaring college costs and whether the price of college is worth the returns in job and earnings opportunities, dual enrollment has surged in popularity as a way for students to save both time and money towards a college degree, earn a credential with immediate value in the job market - or both.”

Parents and students are recognizing the value of dual enrollment.

“According to the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP), as many as 10 percent of high school students - or 1.4 million students - were enrolled in college courses in 2010-11 (the latest year for which data is available),” Kim explains. “Moreover, the share of these students has grown by 7 percent per year since 2002-2003, with the fastest rates of growth among minority and rural students and among students in states that have made dual enrollment a priority.”

Locally, this is true, as well. Overall enrollment in all types of TJC dual credit courses last spring was up about 40 percent from three years ago. The number jumped from 1,269 in spring 2013 to 2,157 in 2016, according to TJC data. The largest increases were at John Tyler High School, Robert E. Lee High School, Whitehouse High School and Chapel Hill High School.

“It’s a way for us to provide access to higher education to East Texas students,” says Dr. Tam Nannen, TJC assistant vice president for academic affairs.

In some programs, students can graduate with a high school diploma and an associate’s degree at the same time.

What kind of savings do students (and their parents) see?

For 12 hours of dual college credit from TJC, they would pay $700. For 12 hours credit at Stephen F. Austin State University per semester, the cost is $3,720; at The University of Texas at Arlington, it is $4,439; and at Texas A&M University, it is $4,941. Those figures do not include the additional cost of room and board that a student going out of town to college would incur.

High schoolers can get close to a year’s worth of studies done in dual credit TJC courses for $1,400 versus a cost of $8,000 to $10,000 at those universities.

And as the Washington Monthly pointed out, “Having experience with college-level courses can also make the transition to college easier, which could be of particular benefit for students more likely to struggle.”

It’s not for everyone, of course. But dual enrollment is a program to be commended.