Can I Take Online College Classes While I’m Still In High School?

Forward thinking high school students have the opportunity to earn college credit while still attending high school, often at substantially reduced costs. Even better, most of the courses can be taken online, allowing the student to acquire knowledge from a prestigious university that might be on the other side of the country. Doing so can mean earning a degree in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost.

Why Take Online College Courses While in High School?

High school students may enroll in online college courses for a multitude of reasons. Many do so because they’re not challenged by the high school curriculum. Others want to explore subject matter that isn’t taught at their school. Still others are simply anxious to avoid the high costs of a college education. The opportunity to earn college credit at a less expensive cost per credit hour makes this a highly attractive alternative.

How to Find Out if Classes Are Available

The first place to check is with the high school guidance counselor. They are experts at what’s happening at local colleges and whether or not the high school has a relationship with any of those institutions that permits students to earn college credits at a reduced cost. If the student has the desire to explore a particular program at a certain university, it may be worthwhile to contact the college directly to see if they have some kind of program that permits high school students to take online programs.

The Basics: Online College Courses for High School Students

Most of these programs are typically called dual credit or dual enrollment. Dual credit refers to the fact that these courses allow the student to earn high school and college credit simultaneously. Dual enrollment implies that the student is enrolled in both schools, but the credits earned in college courses do apply to high school credit. As far as the college is concerned, the student is not officially enrolled, but the credits they earn are as official as those earned by full time students.

Things to Understand Before Enrolling

It’s important to realize that the credits, and the grade, earned in college courses will be placed on the student’s permanent transcript. Good performance bolsters the student’s chances of getting into the college of their choice. Poor performance, on the other hand, can prove to be detrimental. Accordingly, it’s important for the student to be highly motivated and willing to work hard in their online college classes.

It’s also vital for the student to maintain good grades in their high school courses. Essentially, high school classes cannot be ignored in favor of college classes. Allowing grades to drop in high school can similarly make it difficult to get into preferred colleges, even with a transcript showing that significant college credits have already been earned.

Making the Choice

Motivated students with the drive to complete both high school and college coursework are likely to experience a significant reduction in the amount of time it takes them to earn a degree. The cost savings are substantial, but it’s important to keep in mind that the grades earned in college classes become a permanent part of the student’s record.