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A New Take on the Traditional Path to Success

Dual enrollment programs form an important pillar of education freedom in America but rarely get their due credit. These programs allow high school students to earn credit towards a high school diploma and postsecondary degree or credential simultaneously. This innovative system should be expanded to meet the needs of students and the workforce.
While many dual enrollment classes are taught in high schools, some students are afforded the chance to experience life on college campuses before fully enrolling at one. Post-Secondary Enrollment Options, a Minnesota-based dual enrollment program, was recently featured in the Washington Post for the opportunities it provides students to attend classes at surrounding colleges and universities. The transition to life at college is often a challenging one, and programs like these can help high school students acclimate to campus and adapt to postsecondary coursework to mitigate associated stress or anxiety.
Dual enrollment programs also help students and their families save money. In fact, North Carolina’s dual enrollment program allows students to make progress towards—or even earn—a certification or degree without paying a single dollar for tuition.
By allowing students to complete a postsecondary degree or credential more quickly, they are out of school faster—usually without taking on loans—and into a well-paying career. For any student looking to earn a certification or degree, dual enrollment can make postsecondary education vastly more affordable. Empowering students to enter the workforce more quickly with less debt is a win-win.
For these reasons, dual enrollment programs should be expanded.
Currently, about 34 percent of high school students participate in dual enrollment programs. These programs are largely reserved for upperclassmen in high school, but schools should consider how they can expand it further to students who are prepared to enter into these programs. For students who are eager to join the workforce and earn an income, expanded opportunity to enter into dual enrollment programs would allow students to earn a valuable certificate or graduate from college or university before their peers who did not participate in dual enrollment.
Expanding dual enrollment to a larger swath of students and promoting new opportunities for students to attend classes on college campuses will better allow students to understand their interests, find fulfilling careers, and hit the ground running upon entering the workforce. 
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