How to Graduate College and High School at the Same Time

…or at least earn a couple of college credits before graduating high school!

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Colby Abuhoff, MS Writer

A student arrives home on the last day of their middle school classes. At this point, most students would be relaxing as the school year is over. However, this student begins to prepare for school to start again – after all, their college class begins in just a few days.

This is the first school year for Somerset Academy Canyons (SAC) students entering 9th grade to take dual enrollment courses over the summer. Students will begin these college classes at the start of summer break, ending at the beginning of their 9th grade year. Since middle school students can now take several new high school courses, the ability to dual enroll is now possible.

How do students get in?

Students who wish to attend these classes must pass through several requirements.

One of these requirements is that students must have at least four high school credits. Within this requirement, students must have one credit in English and one credit in Math. The other two credits may be in any other category.

This requirement has held back the prior classes of SAC because students – even if they had four high school credits – were unable to take a high school English class until this year. Students this year were allowed to enroll in Pre-AICE English Language.

Another requirement that students must meet is that they must pass the Postsecondary Education Readiness Test (PERT). The PERT consists of algebra, reading, and grammar. Depending on how well students score, the PERT will show if they are college ready and what classes they will be put into if passed. To be able to take the PERT, students must pay an admission fee of $10 for each attempt.

What is dual enrollment?

Dual enrollment is when a high school student is also enrolled in a college and takes college courses. These courses may be either online or in-person.

When applying, our students will have the option to choose one of two colleges: Doral College and Palm Beach State College. Many of the courses taken through dual enrollment will count for the prerequisites they would have to take when enrolled in a university.

Some of the information that students will learn is studying techniques, how to stay organized, and time management skills. The knowledge that students gain from these college classes may translate into their high school career and be very impactful on their future studies.

Many people may confuse dual enrollment courses and AP classes by thinking they are the same. However, this is not the case. Dual enrollment classes are actual college classes, and while AP classes prepares students to show mastery of college level subjects and passing the corresponding exams may earn students college credit, they are not actual college classes.

As students progress through dual enrollment courses, students will have the opportunity to dual enroll in SAC. After school, dual enrollment classes are held for students starting during their sophomore year of high school. If students continue through this program to their senior year of high school, they are able to have dual enrollment courses fill two elective slots on their 12th grade schedules. These students are allowed to leave campus early as a result.

What benefits come from dual enrollment?

Dual enrollment offers many benefits for students. Some of these benefits may include earning college credit, achieving college readiness, and other opportunities that they would otherwise not receive.

Students who begin dual enrollment during the summer prior to their freshmen year will have the opportunity to graduate high school with their Associate in Arts (AA) degree. The class of 2023 will be the first class offered this opportunity.

An associate degree is the first two years of college completed. Students who have their AA will be able to skip their prerequisites upon entering university or a four-year college because the degree shows that they have passed the necessary classes to continue their studies.

Colleges tend to accept dual enrollment credit, which can help lower the amount of time and money spent on schooling. If students choose to dual enroll during the summer prior to their freshmen year, they will be able to attend those classes for free. Normally, dual enrolling may cost between $75 to $400 per course. Due to SAC’s partnership with Doral College and Palm Beach State College, students may enroll in those classes for free. Furthermore, for students who plan on pursuing careers that require several years of schooling, attaining an AA now will save those students from spending additional time and money in the future, allowing them to pursue their desired career sooner.

Students who participate in dual enrollment will also have experience of what college is like before leaving high school. Many students who transition directly from high school to college may find difficulty in doing so, but with dual enrollment, students will already know what it is like to be a college student and may have an easier experience with the transition from high school to college.

With dual enrollment being available to incoming freshmen students, SAC will become a school that with grades 6-14 rather than its current grades 6-12. As each year passes by, this program will continuously develop and will further help students be prepared for college.