As the days of college slowly (or quickly) pass by, there are those initial moments in which you’re seeking something new. Perhaps you’ve been attending your current college for about a year or two, but you recently found out that some of the electives you’d like to take for fun aren’t offered. Or, you might be in a similar situation to mine; I reach senior year and learned that two of the classes I needed to finish my degree online weren’t offered at my home institution.
When faced with a desire to take a fun new elective or dealing with the last-minute news that the class you need to graduate isn’t offered for whatever reason, then many students consider the option of dual enrollment. Yes, the crazy business of attending two colleges at once. Now, of course it’s impossible to receive financial aid in the same semesters at two schools, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to be enrolled at two colleges at once. And I’m not speaking from the viewpoint of a student who has heard of this secret group of students who enroll in two colleges; last semester I embarked on the journey of dual enrollment.
Last semester wasn’t the first time I had tried dual enrollment. During my freshmen year of college I was attending community college taking two film classes since I wasn’t a resident (tuition was high, and Colorado pays for part of your tuition if you’re a resident.) I wanted to wait to take a full load when I knew that I was a resident, so I just stuck to taking two film classes. In the midst of taking those film classes, I had toyed with the idea of attending the Art Institute of Colorado. In my junior year (I graduated high school as a junior) I had won an art contest for a painting I had done, and the prize was a $1400 scholarship to AI of Colorado. Since I couldn’t receive fin aid at two schools, I decided to try taking an evening class at AI to see if I liked it. Long story short, the program wasn’t for me. So I withdrew within two weeks, and the scholarship money went into my wallet. Least I got some money from it. 🙂
So dual enrollment wasn’t the best course of action for me during that time, but upon moving back to Maryland and finishing my degree online with University of Colorado Denver, I realized that I needed dual enrollment now more than ever. Except this time it wasn’t a luxury, it was an essential decision. I had found out last-minute from my advisor that he was wrong about my French from high school counting towards graduation. I needed more French. But how on earth is that possible when I’m taking online classes? I’m not yet a resident of Maryland, so taking a class locally would break the bank. So I had to think fast. What could I do?
At the last minute, a light bulb turned on. I remembered that the community college I attended, Arapahoe Community College, is one of the few schools in the Colorado Community College system that offers classes such foreign languages and sciences w/labs completely online. In actuality, the Colorado Community College system is a great alternative for students finishing degrees online and are in search of dual enrollment so they can meet their gen ed requirements. So immediately following my moment of clarity, I registered for French I and Geology 1 (still needed science to graduate.) After registering for the classes at the community college, I let my advisor know that I’d be transferring credits in. 9 credits from community college, and I’d still be taking 18 credits that semester at my home institution.
By no means was it easy taking 27 credits in one semester, but I’m a geek when it comes to academics. I love school! I push myself very hard in order to excel, and I knew that in order to meet my goal of graduating in Summer 2012 with a B.A. in English, I needed to dual enroll. For me, it wasn’t really an option. But for some students out there, dual enrollment might be a great option to consider. You might not be in the situation I was, but maybe you’d like to take an elective or a foreign language that you’re school doesn’t have. My advice would be to talk to your advisor, see what the local community college offers, and assess the situation.
If you up for a challenge, yet a rewarding journey, then dual enrollment might be right for you. But if you’re already having a challenge handling your current course load, then don’t do dual enrollment. It’s not for everyone. But for those of who have embarked on the journey of dual enrollment, I salute you. All those crazy late nights of doing homework for multiple classes, keeping quiz dates in order, and trying to remember professors names surely do pay off in the end. So to dual enroll or not? In the end, it’s all up to you.