By the time Emma earns her high school diploma later this month, she will technically be a college sophomore. “How,” you ask? The answer is the dual credit program. The dual credit program allows high school juniors and seniors to earn college credit for certain high school classes that also count toward their high school graduation requirements.
The dual credit program began in the 1980’s as a means of providing enrichment to gifted high school students who had completed their graduation requirements and needed an additional challenge. The state of Texas began tracking dual credit classes in 1999 and found that over 11,000 students were enrolled. In 2010, that number had jumped to over 91,000. Here’s why…
In 2008, the state of Texas mandated that every school district must provide a path for students to earn a minimum of 12 hours of college credit while still in high school. Advanced Placement (AP) classes fulfill this requirement, as do International Baccalaureate programs, but neither offer students an opportunity to attend actual college classes on college campuses. To this end, community colleges team up with school districts and offer students the opportunity to leave campus and attend their dual credit course on the community college campus. Additionally, high school teachers can be certified to teach dual credit classes on their high school campuses.
The allure of dual credit is that it is free. That’s right, it doesn’t cost a thing. School districts typically pick up the cost of textbooks, so by the time graduation rolls around, students may have earned a substantial number of college hours at no extra cost to them. Public universities in Texas are required to accept dual credit, thus dramatically lessening the cost of a college education. That is why the program, initially designed for accelerated students, has become very inviting to lower and middle-income families.
Some Dallas-area private schools* offer dual credit classes as well as AP classes. So how do you decide which type of classes to pursue? Dual credit classes are great for students who know they will attend a public university in Texas. However, if you’re going to a private university in Texas like Rice or SMU, take AP classes instead. And if you’re planning to leave Texas, AP classes are the better choice.
More about the pro’s and con’s of dual credit in my next post. To learn more about the dual credit program, go to www.dualcredittexas.org.
*The Alexander School
Bishop Lynch High School
Carrollton Christian Academy
Dallas Christian School
Highland Park High School
Parish Episcopal School
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