Horizon 9th-12th Grade Students May Earn High School and College Credit at the Same Time
Dual enrollment allows high school students to earn both high school and college credit for college courses completed while they are still in high school. This can be accomplished by taking classes on a college campus or online. (All college classes are currently only available online rather than in person through summer 2021, due to COVID-19 restrictions.) Classes are tuition-free. Horizon Charter School (HCS) students may use instructional funds to pay for books. By taking advantage of dual enrollment, high schoolers will save time and money and be better prepared for college and career.
Best of all, students who participate in dual enrollment are still eligible for the California Promise program. The prog allows students to attend a California Community College for two years tuition free after they graduate from high school!
Dual Enrollment Bumps High School GPA
When high school students participate in dual enrollment, each 3+ unit college course they take counts as 10 high school credits on their Horizon transcript. Therefore, students only need to take a one-semester college course to fulfill the yearlong high school requirement. Plus, the grade you receive in the college classes will be weighted, bumping your grade by one GPA point (e.g., an A is worth 5.0 rather than 4.0). This may boost a student’s GPA past 4.0, which looks great when applying to some of the harder-to-enter universities or career programs.
High School Students May Earn an Associate Degree
Sierra College now allows students as young as 9th grade to take two college courses each semester. High school students that start dual enrollment their freshman year and also take college courses in the summer could potentially earn the 60 college units needed for an Associate Degree (AA, AS, AA-T, or AS-T) while they are in high school! That’s about 20 college courses spread out over four high-school years. Keep in mind, you must receive approval from a Horizon guidance counselor to participate.
Although this may be a great option, depending on your major, it is also very difficult and only recommended for extremely dedicated, focused and responsible high schoolers.
Most students will find a more moderate approach desirable. For example, replacing some or all required high school courses with college classes, which is more like 14-15 college classes instead of 20. Or some students may prefer to take just a few college classes.
To determine whether or not attempting to earn an Associate Degree in high school is a good option for you, please visit the “Dual Enrollment” page under the “Guidance” tab of Horizon’s Hub for more information and discuss it with your guidance counselor.
Benefits for High School Students Taking Dual Enrollment
Although it’s not for every student, those who are committed to attending college or a university or following a specific career path will receive many benefits from dual enrollment, including:
- FREE tuition
- Use instructional funds for materials/textbooks (during fall/spring — instructional funds may not be used during summer)
- Earn college and high school credits at the same time
- Most courses are transferable — saving you time and money on a college degree or certificate
- Weighted GPA / College level / Advanced (similar to AP)
- Explore college and career interests
- More course options
- Online courses available
- May take courses during summer
- Access to college resources
- Exposure to college environment
Dual Enrollment Provides Challenges as well as Opportunities
One high school student that benefited from dual enrollment was Andrew Jones, Horizon Charter Schools’ Class of 2020 Salutatorian. Andrew joined the program through Folsom Lake College his junior year in high school. When he began taking college classes, he was still exploring career choices. So, he chose to take classes that fulfilled both high school requirements and were widely applicable across many college majors. During his two years at Folsom Lake College, Andrew took English, Spanish, US history, political science, economics, and calculus classes. Although participating in dual enrollment was challenging, he also found the experience very rewarding.
“While these classes were strenuous and difficult, I enjoyed them greatly,” Andrew recounted. “The thing I enjoyed the most about community college was being treated like an adult. Instead of having to have my ST and parents sign off on everything, I had professors who told the class that they didn’t want to hear from parents but wanted us to do something if we had a problem.”
Learn more about this incredible Horizon graduate and hear his graduation address in our Senior Spotlight article.
Program is Not a Way to Get Caught Up on High School Credits
Before considering dual enrollment, talk to your supervising teacher (ST) and guidance counselor to be sure it is right for you. Please keep in mind that taking college courses in high school is challenging as well as rewarding. It is NOT a way to make up for regular high school classes that were failed, and the classes are not remedial classes. Dual enrollment is a way to jump-start higher education or career plans. It is not a method for getting caught up on high school credits. The program and courses require a lot of discipline and are definitely not a good fit for all students.
Choosing Which College Courses to Take
If you decide to pursue dual enrollment, the first step is to determine what you are trying to accomplish:
- Meeting high school graduation requirements
- Taking A-G required course for UC/CSU admissions
- Participating in Advanced Courses
- Meeting college general education requirements
- Accomplishing college major required course
- Taking pre-requisites for a major or program
- Exploring a career interest or hobby
- Participating in a Career Technical Education (CTE) course
Students do not need to be pursuing an A-G College Prep Pathway. College classes may be used to satisfy the UC/CSU A-G freshman admission requirements and commonly include:
- World History, US History and American Government
- English 11 or 12
- Pre-Calculus, AP Calculus
- Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Earth/Physical Science, Astronomy, Geography
- Spanish, American Sign Language, French, Russian
- Visual Art, Music, Theater
- Economics, Public Speaking, Psychology, Social Psychology, Cultural Anthropology, Human Development, Philosophy, Nutrition
Steps Needed to Apply for Dual Enrollment
Once you determine what you want to achieve and which classes to take, it’s time to apply. Here are the basic steps to follow:
- Determine if you are eligible
- Check out your chosen college’s dual enrollment web page:
- Know form submission and class registration dates and start the process early (be sure to allow for processing time)
- Research the courses you would like to take (view online class schedules/descriptions/prerequisites)
- Contact your guidance counselor to discuss course selection if you have questions (check your course plan)
- Apply online to the college as a high school student and receive your student ID
- Submit form to your HCS guidance counselor
- Be sure to include all required signatures
- Los Rios requires 5-digit course code listed by priority
- Follow all instructions to set up your student portal email account (mySierra, eServices, etc.)
- Check your student portal email account regularly to see if you were approved
- Follow email instructions about needed orientations, course placement, or other steps to complete
- Register for classes per instructions you receive from the college
- Sierra College — you will receive a time when registration opens; you must register yourself in classes
- Los Rios — the college will register you in classes based on the 5-digit course codes on your form
- Remember you will need to redo these steps each semester
Things to Consider Before Applying
- Check course prerequisites to be sure you’re eligible for that course
- Read course descriptions to ensure it sounds like something you’d like to take
- Check units for course to be sure you’re not over the max for that college
- Have a list of backup course codes in case the chosen course is full
- May need to try more than one campus to get into the class you want — high school students have lower priority than full-time college students
- Make sure you have transportation to the campus for in-person classes
- May want to take courses at two different college campuses in same semester
- Be sure the schedule works and you are able to attend all/most of the classes
- May want to check a professor’s rating on Rate My Professor before taking his/her class
Tips for Dual Enrollment Success
- If this is your first time taking college classes at a particular college, you must apply to the college and get your School ID Number first. When applying online, be sure you check the box that indicates you are a high school student.
- For questions specific to a college, contact the college. College websites typically provide contact phone numbers.
- After you graduate from high school, if you plan to continue at that particular community college, you will need to apply again as a “new college student” even if you have already been attending that college through Advanced Ed or Academic Enrichment.
- Take courses that will count towards college General Education or your lower division major requirements to maximize the benefit. Refer to college websites for a list of General Education requirements and courses, as well as lower division courses for your intended major.
- Contact your guidance counselor if you have any questions or need help picking college classes.
More Information About Dual Enrollment
Horizon Charter Schools’ guidance counselors hold dual enrollment workshops each year with updated information. They presented a workshop via Zoom on December 11, 2020. Visit the “Dual Enrollment” page of Horizon’s Hub for additional resources, including: slides from the most recent workshop, a recording of the last presentation, how-to videos and required forms. You may also contact your supervising teacher (ST) or Horizon guidance counselor directly for more information.