“Here’s my question…my son is 12 in 8th grade. He plans on taking college classes part time during 11th and 12th grades. Do you recommend this? How do we (my son and I) know what is right to do?”
First of all, Kathy: thanks for asking! Before my response proper, I figured I’d give a little background. I actually did exactly what your son is planning to do during high school. I took community college classes part time during my junior and senior years. Formally, this is often called “dual enrollment,” but certain colleges call it by a different name.
Now, it’s best to get the let downs out of the first. Similar to the laws for homeschooling in general, each state has their own regulations about dual enrollment. A good list can be found here. It contains links to and summaries of the policies for each state.
Secondly, the other letdown: from what I’ve learned at the yearly college recruitment halls at my local community college, not all colleges are willing to accept high school students, much less offer a proper dual enrollment program. The likelihood seems to increase the lower in application requirements you get (private colleges being the least likely and community college the highest.) Go early – between semesters – and look into the colleges you’re interested in. Sit down with a counselor there and talk about whether your son meets the requirements.
Finally, I will give another word of advice: as an 11th or 12th grader, even if your son is brilliant, I would not encourage him or anyone to take classes that are vital to his GPA and/or ideal degree. Ease into it: find a class on the subjects he likes. My transition into community college while dual enrolling included essay writing classes, one speech class and an art appreciation class. This allowed me to take a light course load and get the easiest parts of my degree out of the way before I got my high school diploma.
Despite this advice, though, I would highly recommend the experience. A great way to transition into the college crowd is to be around college students. Succeeding in a college class before the expected age is very encouraging, too. Don’t dissuade your son from this if he wants to do it. That kind of initiative at his age is a sign of great maturity!
I contacted Kaitlyn from the “Ramblings of a Homeschool Girl” column and she had this opinion to offer:
“I took dual enrollment classes my junior year and am going to take two classes next semester, so of course my response would be to go for it. I don’t know about other states, but here, dual enrollment is free and each class counts as both a high school credit and college credit.”
So in closing: do your research with individual colleges before signing up, and look toward the smaller ones first. However, remember that dual enrollment can be great fun and an excellent way to start your college journey! This is the Homeschool Survivor, signing off.