The Technical College of the Lowcountry provides career, university transfer and continuing education offerings for adults of all ages. But did you know that TCL, like many community colleges, also provides college classes for students currently in high school?

TCL’s dual enrollment program allows qualified high school students to take classes at TCL and earn both high school and college credit. Here in Beaufort County, the school district covers the cost of tuition and books for its dual enrollment students. In other words, these students pay nothing out of pocket to jumpstart their college education or careers.

Students can attend classes at our Bluffton, Beaufort or Hampton campus or can choose online classes. More than 1,000 Beaufort County high school students have participated in dual enrollment in the past three years.

Popular dual enrollment classes include introductory college courses across a variety of subjects such as English, humanities, mathematics, language, physical sciences and social sciences.

Upon completion, these college-level courses will then easily transfer to the students’ future universities, potentially saving them and their parents tens of thousands of dollars. In addition, recent studies show that dual enrollment helps ease this transition to college and can also lead to better grades and higher retention and completion rates at four-year universities.

According to the College in High School Alliance, a coalition of national and state dual enrollment advocates, dual enrollment is key to expanding access and affordability “for all students, particularly those who are low-income, underrepresented in higher education or at risk of not completing postsecondary education.”

Dual enrollment is also a great option for high school students who are undecided about higher education. The program provides a unique opportunity for them to try out college-level material in a real college setting that offers the nearby support of family and friends.

But TCL dual enrollment opportunities aren’t just for university-bound students. TCL is currently working to expand its career and technical dual enrollment offerings, which will increase the pipeline of career-ready high school graduates who can take their skills right into our local industries and businesses.

The college recently launched building construction and HVAC dual enrollment classes in Beaufort and Bluffton and look forward to expanding into other areas such as culinary arts, criminal justice and computer technology.

With appropriate grades and planning, dual enrollment students even can earn a TCL associate degree or college certificate. Oftentimes these students will graduate TCL before walking across their own high school stage to receive their high school diploma.

Whether the student is headed to a four-year university or wants to go right into the workforce upon high school graduation, dual enrollment offers high school students a smart pathway to a bright future.

For more information, contact your high school counselor visit tcl.edu/dual.

Leigh Copeland is the assistant vice president of marketing and public relations for Technical College of the Lowcountry.