Joseph Warta devotes a Martin Center column to the pros and cons of dual-enrollment programs.

Shortly after I moved to North Carolina in 2015, I learned about a dual-enrollment program for students to attend high school and Wake Technical Community College simultaneously. At the time, I was a homeschooled rising junior deciding among my options for the future, and I was eager to jump on board if it meant I could get college credit early—and tuition-free.

The dual-enrollment program, called Career and College Promise (CCP), is designed to enable eligible North Carolina high school students to earn transferrable college credit that will count toward their future degree. There is no cap on credits a student can take, so a CCP student can earn as many as he is able to, up to an entire associate degree (while keeping up with his high school classes). CCP statistics show that I was not alone in utilizing this program: in the 2013-2014 fiscal year, there were 11,389 students enrolled in the program across the state. …

… It was not until I actually started the classes at Wake Tech, however, that I found my college classes lacked the academic rigor I had in my high school courses. Wake Tech’s classes were simply not as challenging as I expected—or hoped—them to be.

One example of a less-than-rigorous course was an online criminal justice class with an instructor whose spelling was so poor that I often lost points on quizzes and tests because I could not understand what he was trying to say. I also had to take a class in which I was taught how to get around the 138-acre campus, how to find other college’s websites, how to study, how to take a test, and other rudimentary skills. The class, College Transfer Success, is a requirement for students earning an associate degree—think freshman orientation, except for an entire semester.

Even worse, some classes were highly politicized, especially my first English class, “Writing and Inquiry.” Much of the time in that class was devoted to discussing current political issues. Very little time was spent on writing; instead, the majority of the time we spent reading and discussing partisan drivel. …

… Had these classes simply matched—not even exceeded—the rigor of classes I took in the high school home school program, I would have been much better off. I also would have been better served by dedicating more time and focus on my high school classes, but earning college credit was higher on my list of priorities. I wonder how much other students are challenged at Wake Tech. If the quality is not kept high, then it becomes a credential mill rather than an educational program.