So, remember when Ignacio and Steven decided to become luchadors in the movie Nacho Libre?

High school dual enrollment is kinda like that. It can seem like the perfect path to fame and fortune…

… or at least some free college.

It’s spoken about in hushed, almost reverential tones. Especially in the homeschool community.

I remember overhearing other homeschool moms singing the praises of dual enrollment from the time my kiddos were little. And when my daughter finally reached high school, she followed the well-worn path of so many others and began taking dual enrollment classes.

Because what could be better than getting college credits in high school, right?

Well, just as Steven and Ignacio learned after losing their first wrestling match, dual enrollment is a little trickier than it looks. And it’s not for everyone. After helping my daughter and many other high schoolers navigate dual enrollment, I discovered many details about this possible high school option.

Wondering if dual enrollment is a good fit for your high schooler? Let’s munch on a little toast and discuss the nitty gritty of dual enrollment.

First off, what is dual enrollment?

Dual enrollment is when a high schooler (or sometimes a middle schooler) takes college classes that also count as high school credits. It’s a package deal with a fancy name, like Nacho and Esqueleto. These classes can be taken on the college campus, virtually, a hybrid option, or even on a high school campus.

And how are dual enrollment classes different than regular high school classes?

Dual enrollment classes are college-level coursework, so the material is usually more difficult. It is also covered very quickly, like the amount of time it usually took before another luchador pinned down Steven and pulled out some hair. For example, most dual enrollment classes are a semester long instead of a full school year, and some are accelerated over an even shorter period of time.

Also, students are expected to work independently (without mom’s help) and are usually given a syllabus but not reminded about due dates and missing work. Each college or university has different requirements, but there is usually a minimum age or grade level, placement test score, and GPA to begin dual enrollment classes.

Here are some pros and cons to help you get to the nucleus of dual enrollment.

The Pros:

  • Free (or almost free) College ~ Just like those free chips that Nacho grabbed for the orphans, dual enrollment is a great way to get some free college credits. Some universities charge a reduced fee per credit hour, and there may be a fee for books and other items, but it is still a great way to take college classes without the hefty price tag.
  • Two For One Credits ~ Dual enrollment offers both high school & college credit for same class. Any high school graduation requirement like Chemistry or English Composition can be tag-teamed, luchador style, for some simultaneous college credit.
  • Pile On the Classes ~ Since each dual enrollment class only takes a semester or less (sometimes only 8 weeks), students can take more classes during each school year, and sometimes even during the summer. This can greatly accelerate the amount of high school credits a student can get during a school year, and leave plenty of time to toss bee hives and engage in other crazy luchador training.
  • The Glory Day for Independent Leaners ~ Dual enrollment classes are great for independent, motivated high schoolers with good time management, who, like Nacho, declare, “I am the gatekeeper of my own destiny and I will have my glory day in the hot sun.”
  • Less Parental Duties ~ Dual enrollment classes are ones that the parent does not have to teach, which can be great for high school classes like Chemistry or higher-level math. Dual enrollment allows someone else to teach and grade these classes, leaving time for mom to do other duties.

Via Giphy

And now for some cons of dual enrollment…

The Cons:

  • Difficult Classes ~ Dual enrollment classes are usually more difficult than high school ones because they are college-level courses covering material over one semester instead of over a school year. They are not usually classes where the students can “take it easy” and are not great for students who already struggle academically in the given subject.
  • Permanent Withdrawals & Final Grades ~ Just like the long-lasting glory and honor of Ramses and the other famous luchadors, the final grades of dual enrollment classes stay on a college transcript forever. Which is fine if the grades are good. But if the student decides to withdraw late or ends up with a final grade as stinky as Nacho’s robes, that, unfortunately, will also remain on the transcript.
  • No Parental Say ~ A major difference between regular high school classes and dual enrollment classes is that the parent has no input on what is taught or how it is taught. Dual enrollment classes may include subject matter that the parent feels is inappropriate or just not good (like whatever Nacho was serving to the orphans from that giant pot). But the parent can not intervene and substitute that material with better choices (like a nice salad or something).
  • Tricky Credits ~ Using dual enrollment classes to complete all of the high school graduation requirements can be as tricky as the trek up the mountain to get the eagle egg. Certain dual enrollment classes in science, art, history, and other subjects may not equal a full high school credit. You will want to check the dual enrollment equivalency for your state, and also the high school graduation requirements.

If you live in Florida, here are some helpful links for dual enrollment.

So, now that you have read through the pros and cons of dual enrollment, it’s time to summon your eagle powers and take these seven steps for dual enrollment.


Dual Enrollment Steps:

  1. Make sure your student is ready academically, emotionally, and socially for dual enrollment.
  2. Learn the options for dual enrollment for your state, and any deadlines or requirements for specific colleges.
  3. Make sure your school allows dual enrollment or enroll as a homeschooler in your county.
  4. Fill out the college application for dual enrollment, and take any entrance test.
  5. Meet with the college guidance counselor to discuss class options and create a plan for taking the necessary classes to complete high school graduation requirements (and get an AA degree if desired).
  6. Fill out all paperwork, get district or school verification, sign up for classes, and pay any fees.
  7. Keep track of both high school credits and final grades for the high school transcript, and college credits for any college degrees.

And there you go!

You now know the nitty gritty of dual enrollment and whether it fits your student as well as Ignacio’s recreational clothes.

Comment below with your thoughts about dual enrollment or your favorite Nacho quote. And if you have specific questions or would like help creating a high school plan or transcript using dual enrollment classes, please contact me!