Stressed-out parents of high school students face the greatest challenges ever this fall in seeking optimal educational experiences for their children. With classes limited to online courses only in many public school districts, some parents worry about the quality of instruction and the lack of preparedness in many local schools. They may fear their daughters and sons will fall behind and lose out on traditional opportunities to go to college. As more colleges and universities resort to limiting in-person classroom instruction and struggle to enforce social distancing for residential students, parents and new college students are seeking offerings closer to home for the first two years of higher education.

Fortunately, there is a proven model that can deliver quality coursework to high school juniors and seniors while simultaneously accelerating their educational pathway toward completion of a college degree. That model is called dual enrollment, or concurrent enrollment. Dual enrollment allows high school students to take courses that offer both high school and two-year college credit.

In some states and localities, completion of two years of dual enrollment courses allows students to achieve a high school diploma and two-year associate’s degree at the time when they would normally graduate from high school. In such states, the two-year degree readily transfers to four-year institutions, allowing these students to complete a bachelor’s degree by age 19 or 20. In Illinois, for example, the Illinois Articulation Initiative (“IAI”) mandates that associate of arts and associate of science degrees offered by public community colleges and private two-year institutions that are IAI members be accepted for full transfer credit by all public universities and private four-year colleges that are IAI members.