The Great Debate: Should we have dual enrollment at Algonquin?

January 2, 2022

No. Dual enrollment destroys passion and should not be implemented

Nothing in life comes for free, and dual enrollment is no exception. 

Dual enrollment was a recently proposed and approved program where students can take college courses outside of school to earn credits to be able to skip certain high school and/or college courses. The courses would be graded, and all grades would appear on a student’s transcripts. 

While these courses would be cheap (or even free) from a financial standpoint, they would still mainly be accessible to higher-class students. As the courses are taken outside of school, a working-class student may not be able to afford taking dual enrollment courses timewise. There are only 24 hours in a day, and it may be necessary for the student to spend those extra hours outside of school earning money at a job instead of taking extra courses. 

By giving those who are more financially fortunate these opportunities, the program would only further increase the education gap between students of different classes. 

In addition, students can still take college courses outside of school even without a dual enrollment program; they just won’t receive credits for their work. With the current policy, a student’s main motivation for taking an extra course would be passion. When there are no strings attached to taking the course, the ambitious student can focus more on doing what they love without having to worry about the negative impacts of a bad grade on their transcripts. 

By incorporating grades and extra incentives, the motivating factor behind going beyond expectations would be the grades and the credits. And these are not guaranteed; a student might easily become frustrated upon receiving a bad grade in the more competitive environment of a college course, and the grade would leave a permanent record. An unsatisfactory grade in a subject someone is passionate about can be even more discouraging, and it could potentially damage the student’s view on the subject.

The proposal claims dual enrollment would only be an additional option and not an expectation, but would this really hold true when applied? Take one of the most challenging high school courses, for example, AP United States History. Taking this rigorous AP course has almost become the norm, even though it was never meant to be an expectation. That’s simply how peer pressure works; no one wants to fall behind.

I know high school is becoming increasingly competitive, but these courses are not the solution. The seemingly harmless intent to restrict them to “higher-achieving” students will only cause other students to stress about falling behind and not being good enough for these “exclusive” courses. A student taking already-challenging honors courses would feel even more pressure to take these difficult courses that they may not be ready for, causing their grades, and more importantly mental health, to deteriorate. 

Instead, the ambitious student can enroll in college courses outside of school themselves, ones that they actually want to take instead of those which will just look good for colleges. There are plenty of free ungraded online classes, resources and niche-based competitions or scholarships which can also look good (or even better) on college applications. These can be done independently, which means they won’t put pressure on other students. 

As for high school credits, students can currently test out of courses they feel they have already mastered. Furthermore, college credits are not guaranteed. According to NBC, many colleges, especially the selective ones, don’t offer credit to students who have completed dual enrollment programs. 

Dual enrollment is a complicated idea, but will ultimately lead to some students biting off more than they can chew. There are so many other ways to stand out in a competitive market that don’t require putting passion at risk and damaging the mental health of others.

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Katherine Wu, Editor in Chief

Katherine started writing for The Harbinger her freshman year when she took journalism. Through Zoom calls and masked interviews, she quickly fell in love...

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Yes. Dual enrollment should be adopted as a policy change at Algonquin

Due to the work of several students (including myself), there has been a Student Initiative Proposal going around that will allow Algonquin students to take college courses as part of their high school schedule and transcript. Some people oppose this idea, citing issues such as mental health concerns and the potential of students being unprepared to take such classes. These are valid concerns, but they are not as big of an issue as they are made out to be.

First, it would be beneficial to recap the current proposal, which would make Algonquin one of the participating high schools in the Commonwealth Dual Enrollment Partnership (CDEP). This would allow students to enroll in courses at various public Massachusetts universities, such as the UMASS campuses and the various community colleges, among others. After taking prerequisite courses or being able to show academic preparedness to take such classes, students may be able to enroll in a course of their choosing (within the courses available at CDEP). 

These courses would be integrated into the student’s schedules as study blocks, in which the student could either attend the class remotely through Zoom or use it as a period of time to do the assigned work. These courses would show up on students’ transcripts and subsequently count towards high school credits, GPA and graduation. They would also provide the student with college credits that would be applicable to some colleges, mostly those that participate in the CDEP program to begin with.

The CDEP program allows students to experience what real college courses are like and would be like when they enter college, which would better prepare participating students for college. It is a very cost-effective method of earning college credits, as there is only a $25 fee for students enrolling through their high school—a much cheaper option than taking the course during the student’s first year of college.

According to a report by Teacher’s College at Columbia University, high school students who participate in dual enrollment are more likely to not only attend college but graduate it as well. A final benefit of dual enrollment is that it would allow high school students to spend more time exploring subjects they are already deeply interested in before they commit to any discipline in college. 

The primary concern about this proposal involves the mental health of students. It is a common worry that dual enrollment would increase the stress and expectations placed on students and that accepting this proposal would end up hurting the mental health of the student body. However, this issue has already been addressed within the proposal. It is made clear that it is not an expectation for students to participate in dual enrollment; it is only an extra option for students who require the credits or are genuinely interested in pursuing a course. 

Students should not take college courses through dual enrollment simply because they feel it will add something to their college application, or that it will prove that they are academically rigorous enough. It should be specified that it is completely a student’s choice if they want to enroll through dual enrollment; there is no prior expectation for a student to do so. If it is feasible, the guidance counselors would meet with students participating in dual enrollment periodically and assist them in dealing with stress or mental health issues associated with dual enrollment.

Dual enrollment is also a common opportunity for most students; many other high schools around Algonquin participate in the CDEP program, some of which include Framingham High, Hopkinton High, Marlborough High, Bellingham High, Natick High, Waltham High and Assabet Valley Regional Technical High. Algonquin is actually one of the few high schools in the state that is not a part of the program. Dual enrollment isn’t something new and has been functioning well in many other school districts.

In short, the dual enrollment proposal would allow students to enroll in college courses and earn both high school and college credits for it. Students would be more likely to attend and graduate university, among other benefits. With the proper planning and administration, dual enrollment would be undeniably beneficial for the student population and should be adopted as a policy change.

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