Tuesday, February 16, 2016
After Dual Enrollment
For the purposes of the application process they are considered freshman applicants, needing to complete all the requirements of freshman admission (SATs, language requirements, etc.) This is to their advantage as their pool of competitors are high school seniors, who don't have nearly as many college credits on their transcripts as they do. Once admitted they are treated as freshman for orientation, class registration, dormitories, etc. But the moment they begin their first class their credits are activated and they have junior status.
Our students mostly earn scholarships for incoming freshman, but that is probably due the fact that there are more of those available. Even our students with an AAS degree will often do 3 years at their transfer institution, which gives them time to find study abroad opportunities. However, the junior status can be played up when applying to summer programs and internships in the summer between graduation and transfer.
While dually enrolled, the students athletic eligibility lies with their high school district so they have full NCAA eligibility upon transfer.
We have no transfer issues to in state public schools, due to our statewide transfer agreement. Larger private institutions have been fair in awarding credit for dual enrollment. The biggest hurdle we have is with selective liberal arts colleges, many of whom offer little to no transfer credit to classes that were dual enrollment. We've had several students turn down a SLAC because they have felt so disrespected by the SLAC not accepting their transcripted college credit because it was earned while dually enrolled.
Whether the dual enrollment credits count towards the 4-year degree also vary with the college, but most do count the ones that they would count for ordinary transfer students.
My son had a couple of community college course and a couple of UCSC courses while a high-schooler. These provided credits at UCSB, but did not get him out of any required courses (including a course that was nearly a duplicate of one he took at UCSC and got an A+ on).
Academically, it was fantastic - I jumped right into upper level courses that were the most interesting and had small class sizes, so I quickly got to know the professors in my field. As a strong student, I loved these classes, found great mentors, eventually ended up doing my MS and PhD. In fact, my senior year I even took graduate level classes and got most of my MS coursework done while finishing my BS! This allowed me to spend more time on my MS research and do a more challenging and interesting project, which has benefited my career immensely in a number of ways.
Socially, however, I missed out on having 3 summer internships to gain work experience, which would have helped me a lot. I was the "baby" in all my classes, or at least felt like it. I didn't get to study abroad, for the reasons you mentioned. I never met other freshman in classes, so I lacked the feeling of being the "class of 199X" and have never cared enough to give an alumni donation (although I do donate to my MS and PhD programs at my other alma maters where I did feel more camaraderie with my cohort). I was too young to go out for drinks with my classmates or with the grad students/professors in the lab I worked in, so I felt left out pretty regularly. I lost one private scholarship that had a maximum credit requirement (it was only $500, so that wasn't a huge deal). I wasn't assigned an academic advisor because those were only mandatory for underclassmen, but I sought out advisement anyway. If I hadn't, I would have some missed important course sequence info and deadlines.
My suggestion would be to make sure dual enrollment kids go through orientation, get advisors, and take at least one freshman class to meet their peers.
This was my experience almost exactly, though I didn't come in with quite as many credits (dual enrollment and AP credits gave me three semesters of credit as I entered university). I could have graduated in two and a half years (or two if I had taken summer school), but I decided to do three full years so that I could have more of the full experience, including a couple of jobs during one summer and an REU the other summer. There was the option to stay an extra year and add a master's degree (similar to how many schools offer a fifth year master's option), but most of my friends were graduating with me, so staying behind for an extra year wasn't appealing.
Unfortunately, not everybody has such a positive experience. A friend of mine accumulated a few college credits through dual enrollment and a handful through military service, and when he tried to apply to some public universities in California, he was told that he could not apply as a freshman because he had some college credits. At the same time, he couldn't apply as a transfer student because he hadn't completed two full years of college and fulfilled all of the transfer requirements. He said that he tried appealing to the colleges directly, trying to find some way to apply, but they wouldn't let him.
On the other hand, as a math teacher, the main reason I've wanted to get such a thing set up at my high school is because I've seen kids choose taking more AP courses over taking an additional year of math after Algebra II because Pre-Calculus isn't an AP course. (In my state, you need three years of math at the Algebra I level and above to graduate, so the minimal autopilot sequence is Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II.)
I had a lot of reasonably good students choosing to not take math as seniors so they could take AP biology that period instead because in my district AP classes were graded on a 5.0 scale and everything else was on a 4.0 scale, and they were pretty sure they'd have an easier time getting a B in AP bio than an A in pre-calc (they were probably right). In my state (Oregon) our community colleges and public universities have a pretty strong common course numbering and transfer system (at least it works well in math, I've never looked into the other subjects) and I'd like to be able to talk them into taking precalc instead of a random AP class by them getting college credit for it. I know the snootier schools wouldn't always accept it (some of engineering-focused ones probably wouldn't take anything under calculus as a college-level math class regardless), but those planning on a cc or state university next would then be ready to take calculus as freshmen, which would certainly open more doors for them in terms of majors.
I think Anonymous, who earned his/her AA/HS diploma through dual enrollment in the 90's, raised some great issues. As a parent of a soon-to-be high schooler who was considering one of the collegiate academy high schools I mentioned earlier, the desire for my child to "fit in" and have time to grow up and benefit from the socialization experience at university was very much on my mind.
There had been a push to let students do all of their distribution/core requirements in high school, but that ended up being an accreditation nightmare, as I understand it, and so some of those classes are still done when they transfer to or otherwise matriculate to the four-year.
There is a downside in terms of tuition, as after a certain number of credit hours are taken, the cost per credit hour goes up. I forget the precise point, but I have talked with some students who got hit by this. The intention behind that system may be good—dis-incentivize sticking around for no reason—but as the majors in my department tend to have tried a number of other majors (and are often dual or triple majors), they sometimes get hit by this in their senior year. Having dual-enrollment credits brings that deadline forward a bit.
In my state (which, I noted two weeks ago, is different), students who enter four-year institutions with AA/AS degrees do not necessarily graduate much earlier. Our data showed that they generally took 6-8 semesters to finish because the AA/AS degrees were general degrees and certain degrees (engineering, for one) are very specifically four-year degrees.
One thing you didn't mention is the implicit assumption the student will pass. I don't know if it is humanly possible for a HS student to fail an AP or honors class, but they can definitely fail a dual-enrolled college class. Not the place for the slacker.
My college has a designated advisor for dual-enrolled students, and (from what I can tell) that person does a pretty good job getting them into courses that benefit them based on their planned transfer major. I have no idea what HS counselors know about transfer requirements for different majors, but ours know what is needed. That is much better for good STEM students than some random AP gen-ed classes in the liberal arts that are not math and science. The real winners seem to be home school kids, many of whom enroll and finish an AA with us before moving to a university. (And become FTIC grads for us!)