Dual enrollment, double stress

A student is struggling with a dual program but her parents want her to continue.

The financial savings come with a mental and physical cost, says our elder. You should do what you can to pare it back.


Dear EWC

I am a high school senior in a dual enrollment program. I have had the choice of getting my associate’s degree so when I graduate from high school I will have earned my diploma and my degree, but I actually don’t want to do that. I am just pressured by my parents to do so while my counselors and principal don’t actually recommend it since I will not be stopping my education. I just do not know what to do. I am under a lot of stress trying to cram all these classes in to always make my parents happy. I don’t think I can do this anymore. What should I do?


Mr.Bill replies

Thanks for writing to us and sharing this issue, an issue related to the stress and pressure all students face. Only in your case, that pressure seems a little more intense and troublesome. Here are my thoughts.

I do know that being in high school is a pretty wonderful time for most students. Memories are made, friendships are developed and, in some cases, will last a lifetime. And there is so much to do as you grow and learn and become who you will be. 

I also know that all of those things cause and create stress. Social relationships and the need and expectation to get good grades are certainly the cause of feeling stressed. Difficult situations and people can be learning experiences but they can cause anxiety and angst. And more.

Yes, I do know that these years, the ones between 14 and 18 can be stressful. And in your case, a talented student who is enrolled in a dual program, the stress to which you refer is caused both by your mom and dad’s expectations and your busy academic schedule. Fortunately, both of these can be addressed and somewhat alleviated. 

You write that you don’t think you can do this anymore and don’t really want an associate’s degree. You also write that your school counselor and principal don’t see it as necessary. Many parents encourage their kids to take this dual program to accumulate basic college credits at minimal cost. Unfortunately, the stress to do well here has a different cost. Emotional and physical stress.

Over time, you will continue your education. You know that. You will be going to college, either online, in these times, or on site, either now or later. You will be successful and obtain a university degree and diploma. With those things in mind, I completely agree with your school counselor and principal. If you are under the kind of stress about which you write, and don’t/can’t do it anymore, my advice is to discontinue the dual enrollment. Focus on being happy, on your high school experience, and on your high school academic work. 

If you agree, then the issue may be how to tell your parents. Using the topic High School Students Under Pressure Chart, I conducted an Internet search to see if I couldn’t find ways for you to approach your folks. I found many interesting articles and links, all of which described and discussed the commonality of high school students being under pressure. Try that search yourself and see if there aren’t some links that are of interest to you and will help you as you think about how to approach your mom and dad. Here’s one I liked –

Read a few of these articles, summarize some of the main points regarding the causes and consequences. Tell your mom and dad you need to talk with them about your academic schedule and how you are feeling pressure to continue as it is and that it is starting to affect you negatively. Make sure they know you love them and want to make them happy and proud, but this current academic routine and the expectations are causing you to lose sleep, become worried and anxious, and any other discomfort affects this dual enrollment and the expectations to continue it are causing. Tell them what your school people have advised and that you agree. You will be going to college and that you really don’t want to, maybe even can’t, continue the dual enrollment program.

I would hope that your parents see the distress that this dual program is causing and agree with you to pare it down. If they don’t, then you may have a difficult choice. You may have to tell them you are sorry, but that you have decided to complete high school and go to college, but not the associate degree program, and you hope they understand and can support your decision.

If you are a senior, you are either 18 or soon will be. It is appropriate and time that you make these kinds of decisions based on who you are, what your goals and dreams are, and what’s best for you as you know yourself. After all, when you go off to college, that is exactly what you will have to do, and will want to do. It’s how you grow and develop independence and confidence and self-sufficiency. Now is not too soon to start.

I hope this helps, my friend. I agree that high school students are under a great deal of pressure. I also agree with the school personnel as they have advised you. And I agree with you, that if this dual program is causing this much stress and discomfort, and if you are not jeopardizing your future or your chance for success, then you should do what you can to get out from under the stress. And if that means not continuing with the associate’s degree program, then that’s what you should do. 

I’ll definitely be thinking about you, and wanting this to work out for you. Good luck – this year and as you continue your education.

Article #: 463270

Category: School

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