Dual Enrollment: A Two-for-One Deal!
Is your homeschooled high schooler ready, willing, and able to tackle a college-level course? If so, would you like him to get a head start on fulfilling some general-education college course requirements at the same time that he earns high school credit? Dual enrollment (as it’s commonly called) allows a student to do just that. By taking a course at a community or four-year college (whether on campus or through distance learning), your student's classes can count toward both high school and college credit.
Before choosing this route, however, check your state laws carefully, since state regulations vary regarding dual enrollment. Once you’re sure this option is available in your state, investigate what options are available through local colleges and through distance learning courses from colleges located elsewhere.
Begin by calling the college admissions office to find out the requirements for course registration. Each college sets its own policies for admitting high school students. Some colleges request a recommendation from the student’s high school principal. In the case of homeschoolers, colleges with this requirement have been known to accept recommendations from the administrator of a homeschool umbrella or oversight program. (Students who are not part of an umbrella or oversight program should contact the college’s admissions office for alternatives to this requirement.)
Editor’s Note (March, 2008): The program described below is no longer available to homeschoolers.
Whether your student enters college or launches into full-time employment after high school graduation, computer literacy is a required skill. If your family doesn’t yet own a computer, we have good news! Through a program called Computers for Learning, the United States government is giving free computers to schools, including homeschools. For more information, go to http://computers.fed
For tips on family internet safety, listen to recent broadcasts of HSLDA's Home School Heartbeat radio program at http://www.hslda.org/docs/hshb/65/hshbwk1.asp.
Colleges may have a minimum age requirement (usually 16), or require a minimum SAT/ACT score to enroll for a course. At many community colleges, placement/entrance exams are required as a means of identifying the course level for which your student is eligible. If a student’s placement test scores are too low, he may not be allowed to register for courses until he retakes the test at a later date prescribed by the school.
In order for a course to count toward dual enrollment, it must be at the college level. Keep in mind that some community colleges offer remedial courses for students who need to fulfill high school requirements. Remedial courses are not considered college level.
Also, if your student is considering applying or transferring to a four-year college, contact the four-year institution to find out if the community college course he plans to take will transfer. Some four-year institutions have a limited number of transfer credits they will accept, and others do not accept dual enrollment credits at all. Each college is different, so don't hesitate to call the admissions office and find out how a particular college treats dual enrollment credits.
Consider these benefits of dual enrollment:
- It’s a two-for-one deal—one course is taken, one fee is paid, but the course counts for both high school and college credit. (You also save on curriculum costs since you are not buying a high school text plus a college textbook.)
A one-semester college course is equal to a one-year high school course for most academic subjects. For example, it is possible to take one semester of college chemistry and one semester of college physics, earning two credits of high school science in just one calendar year.
- Your student builds an academic track record proving that he is capable of college-level work.
- Dual enrollment courses enable a student to spread out his college credits over additional years, lightening his course load as a college freshman or sophomore.
- Dual enrollment courses are taken while your child is still living at home, so you can play an active role in helping him respond to the different worldviews he will encounter at college.
- Students hone valuable skills such as managing time, adapting to different teaching styles, planning a schedule, and prioritizing deadlines.
- Dual enrollment is an excellent solution for those courses a parent may feel inadequate to teach, such as foreign language, lab science, and upper-level math courses.
Is your child ready to begin part-time college classes? Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is your student mature enough—emotionally and spiritually—to attend class with students who are several years older than he is?
- Is your student academically prepared for the college course he is considering taking? (Remember that his course grade will become part of his official academic record.)
- Does his schedule allow for the preparation and study associated with the college course? Take into account any part-time job obligations and extracurricular activities. Also, remember that when your student takes an outside class, he will be tied to that school’s calendar and will no longer have the flexibility to take time off simply based on your family’s preferences.
- Beware of your student accumulating too many credits before formally enrolling in a four-year college full-time and thus forfeiting his freshman status. This could make him ineligible for some freshman scholarships. Confirm the number of dual enrollment credits permitted with the colleges administering the scholarships. Of course, if your student is going to transfer rather than apply as a freshman to a four-year college, his freshman status is not an issue.
Documentation is extremely important during the high school years, so keep a record of each college course your student takes by listing the course title, instructor, and institution, a description of the course content from the college catalog, and the semester and year in which the course was taken. On your homeschooler’s high school transcript, list the course title, number of credits awarded (for an academic course, it would be one high school credit even though the college may award three college credits), and the final grade earned. When your student eventually applies to college, an official transcript from the college where dual enrollment courses were taken will be required.
If you are looking for a way to make the most of your educational dollars, and your high school student is mature and ready to tackle a college course, dual enrollment may be just the option to meet your family’s needs.
Home School Legal Defense Association members who are unsure of their state’s regulations regarding dual enrollment may contact HSLDA’s legal department at firstname.lastname@example.org. For general questions about dual enrollment, members may contact HSLDA's high school coordinators at email@example.com. Not online? Call us at 540-338-5600.
Here For You
HSLDA’s new Homeschooling Thru High School program supports and encourages you as you homeschool your teen. Be sure to regularly check the new section of the website, www.hslda.org/highschool. Members may also call (540-338-5600) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) the HSLDA High School Coordinators with their questions.
|About the authors
Becky Cooke and her husband Jim homeschooled their children through high school, augmenting their education with community college courses and group classes. All three children went on to attend college. Now that she’s “retired” from homeschooling, Becky tutors, mentors young professionals and international students, and helps homeschooling moms with high school transcripts and college applications. She is also a manuscript and magazine editor. Becky loves to use these experiences in ministering to homeschooling parents. “We’re in this adventure together!” she says.
While homeschooling through high school, Diane Kummer and her husband Tom used a variety of teaching options, including co-ops, community college and online courses, and part-time private school attendance. Both children then attended college. Diane coordinates homeschool events at her church and teaches high school math to homeschoolers. She also developed an accountability program for high school families, offering evaluation of credits and transcripts. Diane has a heart to inspire and encourage homeschool moms.