Seniors reflect on dual enrollment experience


Graphic by Margaret Heffernan

Chau Nguyen

As students begin planning for next year’s courses, juniors have an extra option to choose from: dual enrollment with a local university. With the aim of providing a deeper learning experience and strengthening students’ college applications, DCPS enables students to take classes at local universities and potentially earn college credits. While some students may take a dual enrollment class that pertains to their career endeavors, many just take courses that strike their fancy.

Students applying to the dual enrollment program indicate their top three choices of the offered schools, which include Georgetown University, George Washington University, American University, Catholic University, and the University of the District of Columbia (UDC). Once admitted, students are given lists of suggested classes to choose from.

Senior Natalia Thomas is interested in studying political science in college, so she took a class called Sociology of Crime and Justice this fall. If students receive a C or above for their first-semester class, they can choose to continue the program for the spring semester, which Thomas did with another course called Migrants, Refugees, and the Homeless. Most students enter the program lacking a clear academic goal–Thomas explained that both of these classes are “somewhat linked” to her intended major.

Senior Olivia Green, who takes a class about religion and the Bible at George Washington University, said that the class was “not at all” related to what she looks forward to learning in college, revealing the motivation to dual enroll for a lot of students: “I take it simply because it sounds interesting.”

As Wilson seniors get used to the new academic environment, they experience college workloads assigned by professors, which can be demanding. While Thomas thought it was “not that hard,” other students regard the dual courses as rigorous and heavy. “There was a lot of reading. You think there’s so much reading in high school, but there’s way more in college,” Green said. Thanh Tran, a Wilson alum, felt that, “the tight deadline and pressure of exams” is also significant in college courses, where assessments have significantly more weight than at Wilson.

If the classes are really that arduous, why spend so much time and effort on a “sounds interesting” class that doesn’t end up affecting your GPA? Gaining college exposure is indeed something worth a try. By taking these classes in high school, students can better prepare themselves for universities and colleges. “You know the expected workload,” Tran mentioned when asked about the assignments and homework. “You’ll learn to manage your time better.”

Another advantage of the program is the chance to work with college students. Thomas noted that a lot of projects encouraged cooperation with other classmates, thus helping her to have a better understanding of future professional goals. “Just [be] grateful for the opportunity, because not everyone is able to experience both high school and college at the same time,” she said.

In the end, all seniors interviewed emphasized the importance of reaching out and seeking help when necessary. Most would say the same thing: “Don’t hesitate to consult with professors and classmates.” If you happen to choose a class that involves a lot of reading and analysis, make sure you’re on top of it. Because, as Green pointed out, “There’s no Sparknotes for the Bible.”