Editorial: The pitfalls of Early College Experience

 Early College Experience is offered at the University of Connecticut and could help students get ahead in credits, but also has some downfalls. (File Photo/The Daily Campus)

Early College Experience is offered at the University of Connecticut and could help students get ahead in credits, but also has some downfalls. (File Photo/The Daily Campus)

The prospect of taking college-level classes in high school is becoming more accepted and commonplace. Among plenty of other institutions, the University of Connecticut offers Early College Experience (ECE) classes in many districts across the state. These classes are distinct from AP classes in that they do not hinge on a single exam, instead acting as the class itself, complete with grades from the institution itself. ECE and similar dual enrollment programs are currently well-regarded, but the implementation of such programs must also be considered carefully.

The benefit of such classes is obvious. Students who take these courses are able to expedite and reduce their expenses for their actual time in college. By double dipping, high schoolers are more incentivized to focus on their studies and excel. Universities running these programs also get the bonus of attracting more students to their school. While dual enrollment credits can often be transferable, they are most easily put to use with the school that offered them, especially a boon for well-regarded institutions like UConn.

Despite all of this, though, several questions on implementation immediately come to mind. While many programs force students to pay some amount, taxpayers often have to foot the bill for high schoolers. On the school district side, there is increasing pressure to get teachers certified to teach at the college level. If certification is too simple, there is the threat of unqualified teachers making students miserable and unsuccessful.

For students themselves, there is also pressure to take these courses. Even with a fee, ECE classes are far less expensive than UConn proper courses, as well as more time-efficient. Guidance departments must adapt and prepare for students who want to take more than they may be reasonably capable of, especially with ECE not having the same reputation of AP. In this way, it is also the job of the institution (UConn et al.) to ensure they are not allowing students to be set up for failure or overwhelming disappointment, at risk of sullying the reputation of new programs.

Dual enrollment programs are very attractive to all parties involved, but there are risks apparent with the eagerness to adopt and expand the system. ECE can benefit UConn greatly, but only if they take the time to properly implement the program.