Column: Dual enrollment needs reform

Zack Sweet

To make Michigan more competitive economically and keep talent in Michigan, we need to offer more opportunities to our advanced high school students. Our current dual-enrollment system for high school students was created with the Post Secondary Enrollment Options Act of 1996, and then updated with the Career and Technical Preparation Act of 2000. With our changing economy and need to remain competitive, it’s time to update Michigan law.

Michigan law allows high school students to take a maximum of 10 dual-enrollment courses at participating colleges and universities. The school district is required to cover costs associated with tuition, books and fees. It is the responsibility of students to provide transportation.

To make Michigan more competitive, one solution would be to raise the cap on the number of dual enrollment courses a student takes. A prime example of a state that has a higher cap on course load is Ohio, where students can enroll in 30 credit hours per year at their local community college or university beginning the freshman year of high school. Students can then enroll in 30 credit hours each year of high school up to a 120 credit hour maximum. This is equivalent to full-time enrollment at a university for four years. Similarly, Minnesota does not cap the number of courses that students take as part of the post-secondary enrollment options program. In Minnesota, the state pays for enrollment in the program. In Ohio, the school district pays for enrollment.

There are a number of benefits to lifting the cap on the number of courses a student can take in dual enrollment. First, it provides opportunities for more advanced students to begin taking college classes earlier and over a longer period of time. If a student enrolled in enough courses, they could earn an associate’s degree before graduating high school. We could push our more advanced students to engage at higher levels of learning earlier. Furthermore, it lowers the cost of college attendance for families. By having students take more college courses in high school, the later cost of attending college is reduced. Moreover, in-state universities will be more likely to accept dual enrollment credit, further incentivizing high school students to attend in-state universities rather than leave Michigan. Reforming the number of courses that Michigan students may take must be a priority for Michigan legislators.

By reforming dual enrollment in Michigan, we will increase opportunities for our more advanced students, and in turn help families by decreasing the cost of college attendance in the long-term. Dual-enrollment reform is necessary for improving Michigan’s competitiveness with other states in offering options to students and families.

Zack Sweet is a math and science teacher at Reniassance High School.