Which Dual Enrollment Classes Should a Student Take?

Dual enrollment (DE) is a wonderful opportunity for a student to earn both high school and college credit at the same time. Keep in mind that grades for college courses go on your student’s permanent record, so stress the importance of passing the class. One college course is equal to one credit on a student’s high school transcript. In other words, one three hour college class will be counted as one full credit on a high school transcript. In most cases if a student attends a college different from the one where the DE credits are earned, the GPA is not transferred, only the credits. On the other hand, students who attend the college where they earn DE credits will more-than-likely have their GPA transferred along with the credits. Depending on the student’s earned GPA this could be an advantage or a disadvantage. Also, be aware that if the student is using a state grant then a certain minimum GPA may be required to maintain the grant.

INTENTIONALITY: If your student is ready to handle the rigors of a college class, then being intentional when choosing which classes to take is important for several reasons.

  1. If your student plans to pursue an engineering degree or certain pre-professional degrees, then the four year plan is different than that of a student pursuing a liberal arts major. Knowing which classes are part of the four-year plan will help your student choose which classes to take. However, if your student has no idea what major he intends to choose, then this advice will not be very helpful. Worse case scenario, if your student takes a class that is not on the four-year plan, that class can be counted as an elective. However, your student should be careful not to accumulate too many classes that will be counted as electives otherwise he may end up having to extend the time it takes to graduate or he may end up having to take multiple classes during a semester that are more intense than certain electives. A homeschooled student who plans to become an engineer recently visited Bryan College. He was disappointed to find out that the foreign language class he was taking at that time (as a DE course) is not a course required for the engineering degree here at Bryan. It will be counted as an elective. Had he been aware of that beforehand, he would have chosen to take a math or science class, per the advice of an academic counselor.
  2. If your student plans to take DE classes at one college, but attend a different college post-high school then he should not take classes that pertain to his major unless he knows that the college he will be attending will transfer those credits as courses that count towards the major. For instance, if a student is going to major in biology, he may not want to take biology as a DE class because the college he will be attending may want him to attend that class at their college. If that’s the case, then taking biology as a DE class would more-than-likely transfer as an elective. There are certain majors where it may not matter if the student takes classes as a DE student at one college, and then attends another. This is one reason it is helpful to have your student narrow down top college choices so that these issues can be addressed beforehand.

COURSE CHOICES: Having explained those concerns, which classes should DE students take? One of the first considerations is the student’s interests and strengths. Choosing a class that the student is likely to pass without too much of a struggle will build the student’s confidence. A student can either start with core classes or with subjects that may confirm a possible interest. My youngest son’s first DE class was philosophy (which he took during a short 5 week semester) and I was slightly concerned with his ability to handle that since it is a weighty subject and the semester was condensed to five weeks. Not only did he make an A, but that class confirmed his love of philosophy. However, if he knew he would be majoring in philosophy at a college other than Bryan, that class might have transferred as an elective. That was a risk he was willing to take and I was okay with that because it confirmed his love of philosophy.

SPECIFIC CLASSES: Taking English I and II and/or College Writing (depending on the classes offered by the college) is always a good choice. College students will be writing, and writing, and writing some more so the sooner they hone those skills, the better. If your student needs to take Foreign Language as a required high school course as well as a college course, taking foreign language as a DE course is a good idea. Math classes are always a good idea for several reasons: 1) If your child dislikes math, then getting required math classes out of the way is appealing, 2) Students who take college exams while taking math classes usually score higher on the math portions of the tests because it is fresh and 3) Students who plan to major in a STEM-related major will do well to have many math and Science classes under their belts. The students who enjoy science and/or who are pursuing a STEM-related major would do well to take both biology and chemistry as DE courses as long as they can handle the rigor of college level-classes.

As a last piece of advice, keep in mind that students need to advocate for themselves. In fact, you will not even be able to have a conversation with an employee of the college about your child’s classes unless your child has signed a FERPA. Plan to have discussions prior to your student entering high school when possible. This sixteen minute podcast may help you in the decision making process as you plan courses for your student’s high school years. Knowing options ahead of time will lessen the likelihood of making poor decisions. Feel free to contact me at pat.wesolowski@bryan.edu if you need help or if you have questions relating to dual enrollment courses.

Positive Changes in College Processes

How the Pandemic Has Affected College Admissions and More

Last spring when the pandemic hit the United States many changes took place almost immediately. Colleges switched to virtual classes, the ACT and SAT cancelled test dates, competitions were either cancelled or changed to virtual events, and graduations, as well as other celebrations, were either cancelled or postponed. These are a few of the negative affects of the pandemic upon life in the US, particularly college life! Understandably, many students were very disappointed with the changes that took place. However, even in the midst of all of these negative outcomes, there have been a few positive changes to celebrate!

WAIVED APPLICATION FEES: Let’s start with the college admissions process. Many high school seniors began contemplating taking a gap year instead of starting college during the a health crises. As a result, many colleges have waived their application fees. That’s a monetary advantage, especially to students who apply to several colleges!

TEST OPTIONAL: Because the ACT and SAT had to cancel so many test dates, many colleges became test optional, using a student’s GPA rather than test scores to determine acceptance and academic scholarships. That is great news for students who have high GPAs yet who do not test well, are unable to test, or who have test anxiety! On the other hand, test optional does not mean test blind meaning that students who have received high test scores are able to submit those scores to test optional colleges. Because the CLT (a third college test option) is an online test, it became a virtual test option for many students, continuing to offer test dates.

VIRTUAL OPTIONS: Since colleges began sending their students home, switching to virtual classes, many professors became technologically savvy, increasing their experience with zoom, video presentations, and more. In addition, colleges began adding virtual tours to their websites. In some cases, students are able to sign up for live tours that include the ability to ask questions throughout the virtual tour! This is a huge advantage for students who live far away from the colleges they are considering. With a virtual tour no-one has to spend money traveling to visit colleges! Virtual tours do not replace on campus tours, but they are a great way for both students and their parents to become more familiar with what certain colleges have to offer.

DUAL ENROLLMENT: Many high schools also switched to virtual classes and, as a result, high school students have enrolled in dual enrollment classes so that they could be earning high school and college credit at the same time. They figured if they were going to be taking all of their classes virtually anyway, they may as well earn college credit.

MORE CONSIDERATIONS: Another benefit to the challenges brought on by the pandemic is that families have become closer, operating at a slower pace, spending time together, and re-evaluating goals and plans for their students. In some cases students are deciding to take a gap year, wanting to wait and see what the future holds. That decision may, or may not, impact scholarships once those students decide to go to college. At Bryan College, gap year students are not penalized unless the students are part of a gap year program that includes college credit and, if that is the case, they would enter as transfer students. When students take a gap year that does not include earning college credit, then they come in as freshmen with all the same offers and opportunities as recent high school graduates. The disadvantage to having so many students post-pone college for a year is that there is now an increased number of prospective students applying to colleges that have limited spots for incoming freshmen. 

RECAP: Not everything as been negative during 2020-2021!

  • Application fees have been waived.
  • Although the SAT and ACT cancelled dates, the CLT went virtual.
  • Many colleges became test optional, using either GPAs or test scores (whichever are higher) for admission and scholarship purposes.
  • Colleges added virtual tours to their website.
  • College professors became more tech savvy when classes went virtual.
  • Many high school students began taking dual enrollment classes.
  • Families slowed down, spent time together, and re-evaluated future plans.

As you have read, in spite of the inconveniences caused by COVID’s entry to the United States, there have been a few positive outcomes as a result!

By the way, if you have seniors in high school interested in joining a martial arts academy, receiving a music or theater scholarship, or want to attend a free scholarship event at Bryan College, earning another $1,000 to $3,000, let me know. Time is of the essence for those opportunities.