Is dual enrollment worth it?
My name is Marty Johnson and I am a 9th grader looking to plan out my path to senior year in order to give me the highest possible chances of getting into top colleges.
After doing some research as to what colleges look for, I have come to the conclusion they want to see specialization in a specific passion. As of now, I am passionate about business and economics. Unfortunately, my school does not offer any classes that relate to my passion. Because of this, I am considering taking a dual enrollment class over summer regarding economics.
I wanted to ask your opinion on this: Is it worth it? How much will taking these classes help me? Is it better than just getting done credits for required classes my school offers to open up room for more AP's? Will colleges recognize the extra effort I put in to pursue my specialized passion?
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Dual enrollment is a good opportunity that comes with some trade-offs. At a base level, taking those classes would benefit you, but there are potential drawbacks that you should keep in mind.
First, yes, taking extra steps to pursue your passion is something that colleges will appreciate significantly. It'll help your profile stand out from other students applying into the same subject area that didn't take that extra step, and that's an important distinction to make.
However, colleges will usually view classes like this: regular classes < Honors classes = Dual Enrollment < AP Classes. So in terms of your overall schedule, you shouldn't replace AP classes with DE classes down the line, but taking a DE class in the summer would probably outweigh just finishing up required credits.
Also, if you end up taking a lot of dual enrollment courses (doesn't sound like it from this, but it's good to be aware), you can end up with too many credits to apply to colleges as a freshman. Basically, there are people who take so many DE classes that they technically complete their "freshman year" at their community college (while in high school), and they end up having to apply as transfer students despite coming straight from high school. You don't want this to happen typically because transfer admissions are more competitive, typically come with less financial aid and scholarships, and force you into an accelerated timeline. So just be aware of that if you decide to take more dual enrollment courses after this one.
Just to add on to the other answer. I think the reason most schools view DE classes as similar to Honors classes is because it's impossible for a college to know the quality of instruction you get in a DE class. There are plenty of places where a DE class will be equal to a college level class and you'll be challenged academically. However, on the other hand, there are just as many places where the quality of instruction WILL NOT be equal to a college level class and could actually be EASIER than what is offered at your HS. Because of this, schools value AP classes since the curriculum is standardized and colleges know what to expect from someone who has taken those classes compared to a DE class where it's more of a wildcard.