There are numerous advanced courses offered at Naples High, such as AP and AICE classes, but many students also choose to enroll in dual enrollment. FSW and FGCU offer dual enrollment for eligible high schoolers, which allows students to earn college credit for free while still in high school. This model of learning has become a more attractive way to graduate early and save money on college tuition.

“I decided that dual enrollment would be a great opportunity for me to advance my college studies,” junior Melanie Duenas said. “I wanted to graduate from high school with two years of college completed.” 

Besides the excellent academic benefits that dual enrollment yields, some students are also able to complete their work faster with more time for other activities. 

“I decided to take dual enrollment because I wanted to get a head start in my college career,” senior Landin Rautenkranz said. “I wish I had done dual enrollment in my junior year as well because I enjoy the more free time I get regardless of the extra work. I saw dual enrollment as a way to start my college career early, be able to go to my job more often and just be better prepared for my future all together.”

The requirements for enrollment include having college level test scores in reading, writing and math. 

“We superscore between the Accuplacer (given at FSW or through FSW Zoom), ACT or SAT,” Dr. Amanda Sterk, Director of Academic Pathways at FSW, said. “Reading must be passed to take any courses, a 3.5 unweighted GPA for 10th and below and a 3.0 unweighted for 11th & 12th.” 

Students are encouraged to take classes that they are good at, and they can even earn an Associates degree, all while still attending Naples High. 

“DE allows you to pick and choose how many courses you take, maybe just one or two, and in areas that you are good at so you are successful, all the way up to full time,” Sterk said. “We had 232 students graduate with an Associates of Arts before they graduated high school.”

FSW offers dual enrollment both part-time and full-time. Schedules and locations for classes depend on which option students choose. Those who are doing full-time dual enrollment rarely go to Naples High. 

“Because I opted in to become a full-time dual enrollment student, I do not go on the NHS campus nearly at all,” Rautenkranz said. “I have heard about how it is kind of tricky juggling high school and college classes, but if I had to refer to a way to do dual enrollment, it would be full-time. This way you get more of the full college experience and don’t need to be running back and forth from NHS to the college depending on your schedule.” 

Those who choose the part-time option attend classes both at NHS and college.  

“Since I am doing part-time dual enrollment, I am taking two virtual college classes as well as four high school classes,” Duenas said. “I spend the whole day at school while completing college work during those periods that have no high school classes.”

Many students believe that all advanced course credits will transfer to college, but this is not always the case. However, dual enrollment credits are more reliable because they can be chosen based on a desired career path and allow students to know how they will transfer. 

“Not all AP, IB and AICE credits transfer like you think they would,” Sterk said. “For example, AICE US History only provides elective credits, so you will have to take that course again in college. Whereas the AP and DE credit give you the History credit. So, with DE, you know exactly how your credits will transfer, because state law says it must transfer ‘as-is.’ If you are interested in biology or physics, you can easily look at your bachelor’s degree required courses and match up your DE courses to make sure you are earning the right credits at the right time.” 

However, it is still important to look at each college’s specific guidelines about advanced course credits. Some colleges, especially those that are out of state, might not accept any credits earned through accelerated courses. 

“That really is dependent on how selective the college,” Sterk said. “The more selective the more likely they will NOT take any accelerated credit, like AP, AICE, IB or DE- but by taking those courses, that’s what got you in. So it’s always best to ask. But yes – most of the credits will transfer to most colleges, especially in core, general education courses like Composition 1, College Algebra, Intro to Psychology, etc.” 

Dual enrollment is considered to be an excellent option for those who want to challenge themselves academically and get ahead in the college process. However, it is imperative that students who are looking to enroll are ready for rigorous courses and have an established study routine to help them succeed. 

“The biggest risk is not being ready,” Sterk said. “If you cannot self-advocate or seek out opportunities for yourself, then you should not do DE and it’s better to stay in a more restricted classroom environment. If you do not do well, it can hinder your acceptances into universities and financial aid. So students need to be ready to be more of an independent learner and have strong study skills.”

To help manage their time, students have created efficient methods of organization to help remind them about upcoming due dates and exams. 

“In order to organize myself with all my classes, I had to create a schedule for myself,” Duenas said. “I create reminders on my phone to make sure I do not forget to finish an assignment, and I focus on specific classes for certain days, depending on the things that are due first.”

More information about requirements for dual enrollment and other necessary information may be found in the FSW handbook and on FGCU’s website. Also, check out Dr. Sterk’s app on the college process for Florida students, College UnMazed, to help prepare for postsecondary education. 

“You have a large support system – FSW advisors, tutoring services, library, your counselors, my office – that all help you navigate the college process,” Sterk said. “That way you are more successful, so if you decide to transfer to a big university, you already know what to ask and have the college knowledge you need.”