Dual credit courses are good for students. There are the obvious reasons: dual credit in high school is much cheaper than taking that course in college. Taking a few courses in high school means students get through their degree program faster, which also decreases the cost of their degree.
And then there are the not-so-obvious reasons. Taking a dual-enrollment course for college credit in high school increases the likelihood that those students go on to enroll in college after they graduate. Students who enroll in dual- or concurrent-enrollment courses are more likely to be successful in their college studies than their peers who did not earn college credit in high school.
In spite of such proof of efficacy, however, during the recent pandemic year, fewer high school students opted to take dual or concurrent enrollment courses than in previous years. This decrease in dual-enrollment courses can have long-lasting effects on students as they prepare for college, as they work towards their degree, and as they pay off loans from that degree.
College-level courses take a little extra effort and motivation for high school students. During the past year, many of the support structures students needed for many of their academic goals got fragile. Here are some of the reasons students cited why they didn’t enroll in or complete their dual-credit course.
Some find that these college-credit courses provide insufficient instructional support, a big obstacle for high school students accustomed to the multi-layered learning supports provided by their schools.
Another barrier reported by students is the inconsistent scheduling of courses. This can be particularly challenging for high school students needing to complete specific course requirements before they graduate.
In addition, as many dual- and concurrent-enrollment courses are offered online, families and their students don’t feel that they have adequate connectivity or experience with remote learning to be successful.
Finally, many parents are hesitant to enroll their high school students in college-credit courses because they aren’t sure whether the credit will transfer to their students’ college of choice.
Having helped hundreds of high school students successfully earn transferable college credit, we understand these concerns. These are questions we received from schools and parents even before the pandemic. This is why we understand that the solution is a foundation of support, consistency, and transferability.
Each course has a qualified, active instructor who provides helpful explanations for difficult concepts. These instructors communicate weekly with their classes regarding course progress and upcoming assignments.
In addition, TEL’s student coaches track student progress and reach out proactively to encourage those who lag behind or struggle with specific concepts or assignments. These coaches set up individual Zoom sessions and group study halls. They also send out helpful, personalized reminders and encouragement.
Students in TEL courses can also access general and technical support from our Help Desk via email, chat, or phone at any time. Finally, we provide additional layers of instructional support by working closely with our high school partners to make sure students stay connected to local teachers and resources for support with their courses.
At TEL Education, we also know how important timing is when it comes to selecting the courses students want or need to take. We offer a consistent catalog of general education courses that are always available to students. There are no enrollment minimums for our institutional or school partners or for students. This means that students can always sign up for the course they need, regardless of when they want or need to take it.
We extend this focus on easy and ready availability by ensuring that students can access our online learning materials in multiple formats, on a variety of devices, and in areas with lower bandwidth. This support includes providing broad and flexible support for devices—computers, tablets, or smartphones—as well as offering all core materials in a downloadable and accessible PDF format for offline study.
Transferability is, and should be, the most common question parents and students have about dual-enrollment courses. Yes, the college-level experience will be valuable for students, but the bigger goal is a faster and cheaper college degree.
TEL Education partners with colleges and universities that are regionally accredited for its dual- or concurrent-enrollment offerings. This means that the course credit offered through our institutional partners will generally transfer successfully to other regionally accredited institutions, as well as those with national accreditations.
With our expanding list of partners, we are consistently adding partners in new states. Working with a local partner can also increase the chances of credits transferring smoothly.
The end result of these efforts is that dual or concurrent-enrollment students taking TEL courses can gain college credit through a rich learning experience that will improve their chances for success when they graduate high school and enroll in college to earn a four-year degree. Equally important, students and their families can accrue significant savings by completing our highly affordable general education courses before making a full investment in a college degree.