Students Can Get Ahead with Dual Enrollment

High School Students Can Get a Head Start in College with Dual Enrollment

Author: Rebecca Ruan-O’Shaughnessy, Vice Chancellor of Educational Services and Support at the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office

With the school year coming to an end, many students are looking forward to summer break. For parents, this is also a busy time, trying to figure out ways to engage their children positively and productively while school is not in session. This could mean encouraging students to take summer school, work to earn money, or allow them to just relax. An alternative option to consider is to help them get ahead in their educational journey by enrolling in a dual enrollment course at your local community college.

Dual enrollment is a program that offers students starting as young as a freshman in high school the opportunity to take coursework and receive college credit toward a degree while also working toward their high school diploma. This will enable them to finish high school quicker while also obtaining college credit and experience at the same time. Best of all, dual enrollment courses are free for most students in California, providing a great starting point to begin their higher education career.

Beyond dual enrollment, California Community College provides different pathways to help students achieve their goals on their timeline, providing the general education foundation students need to help them on their journey to success. Through the California Community Colleges Associate Degree for Transfer program, students have a guaranteed saved spot waiting for them at a participating four-year university where they can earn their bachelor’s degree. Another great option for students is California Community Colleges’ Career Education programs, which provide students with more than 200 career options in lucrative fields and industries, including medical, aeronautics, engineering, technology, and more. Through Career Education, students are provided hands-on technical training in their chosen field, ensuring they find the right fit and have the education, skills, and certification in a career that interests them most. This also enables them to begin lucrative careers right after graduating from their California community college program.

Regardless of their destination, high school students can start their higher education journey today with dual enrollment, providing them with a head start in achieving their academic and professional goals—whatever that may be. With summer right around the corner, now is the time to enroll your students for the summer session.

Below are frequently asked questions, with more information available at

  • Why should students consider dual enrollment?
    By participating in dual enrollments, students receive the following benefits:
  • Introduction to and preparation for college life
  • Ability to explore interests, careers, and majors
  • Opportunity to build skills that are needed in the workforce
  • Motivation to stick with it and pursue a college degree or certificate
  • Understanding the benefits of college education
  • Accelerated pathway through college that can save time and money
  • How can students enroll in dual enrollment?
    Specific steps and details differ from college to college. Students should check with their high school, counselor or contact their local community college campus for guidance on enrollment requirements. Generally, the steps are as follows:
  • Complete an online college application at
  • Complete orientation at your local community college.
  • Submit high school transcripts to your local community college.
  • Ask your high school counselor for help completing and submitting a dual enrollment form.
  • Register for college classes on your local community college website.*

*Visit and use the college locator tool to get connected to the community college in your area.

  • What else should I know as a parent about Dual Enrollment?  
    A few things students and/or parents should be aware of before enrolling in dual enrollment:
    • The grades earned in dual enrollment courses will be part of the student’s permanent record and college transcript. While earning good grades will help them get ahead, earning poor grades in dual enrollment courses can hurt students’ chances of receiving financial aid as well as their eligibility to enroll in a four-year college or university.  Students may be responsible for expenses such as textbooks and supplies, transportation to and from campus, and meals while taking courses on campus (if the course they are taking is conducted outside of their local high school).
    • Students interested in taking dual enrollment courses should speak with their counselor before enrolling to determine if the program is a good fit for them.


The California Community Colleges is the largest system of higher education in the nation, composed of 73 districts and 116 colleges serving 2 million students per year. California community colleges provide career education and workforce training; guaranteed transfer to four-year universities; and degree and certificate pathways. As the state’s engine for social and economic mobility, the California Community Colleges supports Vision 2030, a strategic plan designed to improve student success, our communities, and our planet. For more information, please visit the California Community Colleges website or follow us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

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