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Should High School Students Take College Courses?

Jun 20, 2011

Each year many high school students take on the challenge of enrolling in local college courses. Although there are benefits to doing this, it can also hurt students who aren't properly prepared.

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By Jessica Lyons

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Amount of High School Students in College Classes Increases

Research shows that an increasing amount of high school students are enrolling in college classes. According to the 2007 report 'The Postsecondary Achievements of Participants in Dual Enrollment: An Analysis of Student Outcomes in Two States,' during the 2002-2003 school year 813,000 high school students took college courses for credit. When the Iowa Department of Education recently released its '2010 Joint Enrollment Report,' it also found that more students still in high school were taking courses at the state's community colleges, with more than 38,000 doing so in 2010. This represented a 14% increase from the previous school year.

The Positives

For intellectually advanced students, taking college courses gives them the opportunity to further challenge themselves academically and avoid feeling bored with their schoolwork. However, now students with varying levels of academic success are taking these courses. For the less advanced students, taking part in a college course could help motivate them to do better in their other courses and might boost their self-esteem.

Regardless of the student's level of achievement, college-level classes give them the opportunity to ease into higher education. Going straight from high school to college can be an overwhelming experience for some students. But having already taken some higher level classes can help students feel like they are ready for the new academic challenges they'll face while pursuing degrees.

Additionally, students have the chance to earn credits that can be applied to their degrees. This can ease some of the stress of college while giving them a head start on requirements. It might also save students money later on if they don't have to pay to take the credits while in college.

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The Negatives

Unfortunately, not all high school students are ready for college before they earn their diploma. Students who try to take college classes before they are actually ready could end up feeling discouraged if they do not perform well. Instead of being motivated, they might see bad grades in their college classes and decide it isn't worth making the effort if they are going to do poorly anyway.

High school coursework could also end up suffering. Students who find it difficult to keep up with the higher level classes might start devoting more time to keeping up and less time to their high school classes. This could hurt them in the long run as they miss out on foundational knowledge they will need as they begin college courses. It could also impact minimum GPA requirements some colleges and universities have.

Making Sure the Right Students Enroll

To ensure students are getting the most out of the opportunity to take college courses, it's necessary for their high schools to strictly enforce academic requirements, such as a minimum overall grade point average. Although it's important to encourage all students to reach higher academic achievements, it has to be done in a way that will not do damage in the long run. High schools should have systems in place to properly screen students and make sure that they are, in fact, ready for the challenge.

Do advanced high school courses lack rigor?

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