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

Omar El Nesr, Staff Writer

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.