By Dinorah Prevost
Over the past couple of years, dual enrollment, an alternative to AP courses, has been gaining popularity. However, the number of students taking AP classes still surpasses the number taking dual enrollment classes. There are three specific reasons behind this.
For one, dual enrollment classes are a relatively new concept and schools have only been pushing them for a few years now. AP classes have been the far more popular choice for a long time and as a result, dual enrollment classes are being constantly overlooked. Only about 120 students at Seminole High and only 295 students from south county are dual enrolled.
There is also another advantage that AP classes have over dual enrollment ones: a “controlled” curriculum.
“It is the controlled curriculum that make AP classes the favored advanced class.” Seminole High guidance counselor Maureen Kraeter said, “Colleges know exactly what students are learning in AP classes but not in dual enrollment classes.”
AP classes have that advantage of a regulated curriculum while the curriculum for dual enrollment classes varies from teacher to teacher. When colleges do not know what students are studying in a certain class, they will be skeptical of the rigor and the worth of it. That is a significant downside of dual enrollment.
Lastly, dual enrollment provides “a college experience at no cost to the students”, as said by SPC Clearwater’s Early Admission Coordinator Jeff Cesta. However, it is this exposure to the college experience that intimidates many high school students because they would be in classes with college students of any age. The idea of it tends to be a turnoff.
“I was once in a Composition I class with students aged 19-24. Sitting in a room with them was kind of awkward. Seeing their perspective on things as adults was so different. You feel so small in their presence,” said Seminole High senior Dinorah Prevost.
However, the idea of dual enrollment won’t be thrown out by Pinellas County high schools anytime soon. The program is still succeeding with its small number of students.
“The college has seen a steady upward trend in the number of high school students taking dual enrollment classes,” Mr. Cesta said.
Mrs. Kraeter reiterated what Mr. Cesta said by saying, “It’s been fairly steady.”
Hopefully, dual enrollment’s status either stays that way or grows because many students are reaping the benefits of the program. Although it is on a small scale right now, the dual enrollment program may see growth in the coming years because of the opportunities it affords high school students.
Photo by Flickr user Gianna, distributed under Creative Commons.