by Jamie Gaddy and Kerry Jones
One of the newest trends in homeschooling is that of the dual enrollment credits. It really is an amazing way to get ahead of the game, which explains why the concept has taken off in the past decade. This method of enrolling in a college class while still in high school can truly be life changing as well as budget saving. As the cost of attending college has soared over the last few years, this option almost has become a necessity to some homeschooling families. But you probably still have a few questions about dual credit before you head off to sign up….our aim is to answer them!!
Not necessarily. There are probably three main reasons that dual enrollment might not be the appropriate option for you….
1) If you don’t plan on getting any further education after high school. The idea behind DUAL credit is that you are able to earn both high school and college credit with one course. If college isn’t in your future, then this may seem like an unnecessary step.
2) If the college you plan to attend doesn’t accept dual enrollment credits. A meeting with the academic advisor from the four year university from which you intend to receive your Bachelor’s degree is vital. During this meeting you can ask what their policies are concerning transfers, how the various courses will transfer, and any suggestions that they have for which courses should be taken. Along these same lines, if a student plans on attending graduate school, many competitive universities will want to see that a student has taken a heavy load of challenging courses while maintaining good grades. These institutions often think that courses taken at a community college are not as challenging – even if they are. It may sound snobby, but that is why they are considered more prestigious and apparently they’ve earned that right.
3) If your state doesn’t offer dual enrollment opportunities. Right now, there are five states without any statewide dual enrollment policies in place. This doesn’t eliminate the possibility for dual enrollment altogether, of course, but you will probably have to pursue online dual enrollment options rather than local ones.
It is very important to have the end in mind when starting out with dual enrollment. Many colleges and universities like to have the bulk of their “major specific” courses taken at their institution. The concern of many institutions is that when a student transfers within their “major specific” courses they may have gaps in vital instruction. The college and university are then a bit nervous about granting a diploma to one who may not have gotten the full breadth of intended study.
Typically, as a student begins the dual enrollment process courses are selected from the “core” classes which the student will be required to take at an average college. These courses tend to be the English, Math, Science, and History requirements that many colleges expect the student to be well grounded in prior to commencing their specific studies. However, some of the more prestigious universities require a higher quality course. For example, the basic requirement at the University of Georgia for the math core classes is higher than the local community college. If we were to do dual enrollment and complete our core at the local college, we would have to take an additional math course after transferring to UGA. Those lower math classes would then simply be meaningless or possibly transfer as an elective.
Homeschoolers have different options for earning dual credit. Here are the two most popular…
1) Courses at a local community college – If you live in a state that has a strong dual enrollment policy, then it is likely that your local community college offers many dual enrollment course options. In North Carolina, for example, not only can juniors and seniors choose from a large variety of community college courses as dual enrollment students, but those courses are even offered at no cost! Taking multiple courses while still in high school can count up to a large savings toward a 2 or 4 year degree.
2) Distance education opportunities from various colleges – It would be advantageous to check with some of the colleges you hope to attend about distance learning classes as a way to take dual enrollment prior to high school graduation. With this method, students are getting ahead of the game and accomplishing their goal of taking many college courses during high school, without having to transfer courses. Examples of universities that offer dual enrollment distance education include Liberty University, Boyce College, Kent State University, and Notre Dame College.
Simply put, the key to successfully navigating dual enrollment is to research. Have the student put some serious thought into what they plan on doing with their future. We recommend the free LetsHsHs.com eBook for homeschooled teens to help them pin down their interests, strengths, and future goals. Once a teen has a better idea of their educational goals, and if college seems to be part of reaching those goals, then it’s important to start researching each potential school thoroughly. Research each college’s requirements, distance education requirements, as well as whether they accept credits from local community colleges. If they do, then talk to admissions counselors from your chosen colleges and allow them to advise you about what you should take at the community or state college level. This will save you cost, time, and headache in the future. As we have visited various colleges, we have found that most all of the faculty and staff are extremely helpful and really want to do as much as they can to help you succeed in your college experience.