What is dual enrollment?

Many homeschooled high school students begin taking some, or even all, of their course work through a college in the later years of high school. These classes, then, count toward both high school requirements and as college credits. The earned college credits may transfer to 4-year university when the student enrolls there, potentially saving time and/or money.

Colleges do not merely tolerate or make special exceptions for high schoolers; they are actively building programs to recruit students under 18. Some colleges may use the terms “parallel enrollment” or “concurrent enrollment” or “early college credits” instead of “dual enrollment”. These programs may even offer reduced tuition costs to high schoolers. Individual colleges set the criteria and the incentives to participate in the program. 

Are there any downsides to dual enrollment?

A college credit earned at any age stays on the student’s record. So, at any point in their life, if they want to continue their education, they will have to send transcripts from every previous college attended. While courses can be re-taken, you want to make sure that your child has the ability to succeed in a college course before registering.

You should also consider if your child has the maturity to handle all aspects of a college class. Of course, you can assist with behind-the-scenes aspects, like registration and using the syllabus to plan a study schedule. However, remember that the content and pacing of the classes are intended for adults. Your child will be expected to interact with the professors on their own if they need additional help. Instructors will not communicate with parents of students.

Our Community College Experience

My older child began taking classes at our community college as a 16-year old 11th grader. The application process was fairly easy. Before his junior year of high school, my son filled out a quick online application. There was no essay and no required recommendations or test scores. I had to send his transcript to the college.

Once his application had been reviewed, he had a meeting with a counselor who discussed the placement testing and the registration process. At that time, the college used his homeschool English grades to count for the English placement test, but he did have to take an online math placement test. After that, he was able to register for any course, as long as he met the prerequisites.

He began in the fall of his junior year with an online English 101 course and another class that met in-person one day a week and online the other day. By the time he graduates high school, he will have completed 11 college classes across 4 semesters. Some of these courses have given him the opportunity to explore his intended major and get a better understanding of what he wants to focus on at a university. He has also learned valuable study, communications, and time-management skills while he is still living at home. Having already completed college courses was also an asset on his university applications. It showed admissions committees that he is ready for college-level coursework because he has already been doing well in college courses before graduating high school.

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