Dual Enrollment for Homeschoolers- What to Know

Parents feel increasing pressure to get college started early, so here is: dual enrollment for homeschoolers- what to know.

Dual Enrollment for Homeschoolers- What to Know

Dual Enrollment for Homeschoolers- What to Know

So many homeschool high schoolers now take the opportunity for dual enrollment courses. In fact, it is so common to dual enroll that parents can feel pressure to have their teens take college courses during high school whether they want to or not.

We 7Sisters have graduated lots of teens (those of our own and the hundreds we have advised). Many of these teens have taken dual enrollment courses and found them to be useful. Just as many have stuck with their high school and/or career-preparation courses. That’s because (as you know) there’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school.

Therefore, we want to talk about dual enrollment in a pressure-free way to help you decide:

  • What is dual enrollment?
  • Whether or not to dual enroll your homeschool high schoolers
  • If so, when should they dual enroll?
  • And, if so, which courses should they take?
  • If they take dual-enrollment course, what are some important academic success tips?
  • What are other options for college credit during high school

What is dual enrollment?

Dual enrollment refers to college courses that high schoolers can participate in. Students usually earn college credit that can also count as high school credit on their transcript.

How do these credits work?

Students who complete a college course with a passing grade earn college credit. Usually, semester-length college courses earn three, four or five semester credits for a college transcript.

However, keep in mind that college credits are different from high school credits. Most states use Carnegie credits for high school transcript. Carnegie credits equal one-half credit for a semester course. Therefore, a one-semester college course would give three, four or five credits for a COLLEGE course but, in most cases, only half credit on their high school transcript.

However, a college course on a high school transcript packs power. It would be as impressive (or more so) as Level 5 high school courses or AP courses.

A college course on a high school transcript is powerful.

Whether or not to have your students take dual enrollment courses

There are lots of good reasons to take dual enrollment courses. AND there are lots of reasons to NOT take dual enrollment courses. Remember: there’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school.

Here are some reasons for taking dual enrollment courses:

Providing challenge and change-of-scenery for teens who need a stretch

Academically-driven teens often feel more excitement about their courses if at least some of them are college-level. This presents them challenge and also helps them feel like they are moving forward with their lives in a useful way.

Saving a little on the cost of college

The amount of savings varies widely:

  • Many colleges make offer discounts on selected courses, especially general education courses like Freshman Composition
  • Some states offer discounts for high school juniors or seniors on any courses at community colleges and universities.
  • A number of private and Christian colleges that have online programs will offer a few special-interest freebie courses, hoping that teens will love the courses. They hope that the classes will inspire students to remember the college when they start their college search to attend after graduation.
    • They may also give discounts to high schoolers who enroll in other online college courses.
  • NOTE: Check with your teens’ colleges of interest. Ask them:
    • Which courses are eligible for transfer to their college?
      • Not all courses will transfer to all colleges. Some colleges will want course descriptions on all transfer classes unless they have a prior arrangement with the college where the dual enrollment courses were taken.
      • Some colleges have a limit on the number of transfer credits. Ask the college of interest about this.
      • Occasionally, a college has accepted lots of transfer credits from our dual enrolled students but said that there were so many transfer credits that the teen was not eligible for freshmen-level tuition grants. So be sure to check with colleges of interest about this, also.

Someone else gets to teach the things you don’t want to teach

How do you teach the things your do not know? Of course, homeschool co-ops and umbrella schools are good choices. However, when teens are ready for college-level work, learning from a college teacher can be great education.

Also, if your teen has a special interest that you cannot help them develop, a college course can be perfect. For instance, my daughter was interested in photography as a career. She started taking photography and art courses at the community college during her junior year of high school because I definitely could not teach her these things. She earned a certificate in digital production and created a magnificent portfolio which earned her some scholarship money in college.

On the other hand, dual enrollment is not always the best choice for high schoolers

Remember, there’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school and it is definitely not wrong to decide not to participate in dual enrollment. For instance, of my five children, two did some dual enrollment courses in their interest areas. The others did not feel the interest or need. (This choice did not hinder them at all. Two of them now have doctoral degrees and one is currently working on his masters.)

Some teens would rather enjoy being in high school while they are in high school

Sometimes teens who have several college courses going at once, loose time and energy for their other high school classes and their extracurriculars, not to mention time to relax or spend time with friends. In other words, college-to-early can make some teens more prone to burnout. Listen to your teens. Know their personalities and rhythms. For instance, my teens who did not do dual enrollment wanted to get the most out of being a teen- they were not rushing to get to college.

Some teens are not ready for a college environment

They may not be interested yet, have not learned time management yet or need to learn class-participation skills first. Maybe they need to bulk up in some basic writing or math skills before they jump into a college course. My advice is: whatever you decide, make sure you have your teen’s buy-in so they will have the energy to rise to the college occasion!

Other teens do not need college course for their goals

If you have teens who are not college-bound, it may not be the best use of time to take dual enrollment academic courses. Instead, it would probably be a better choice to find apprenticeship opportunities. (On the other hand, if your local community college has vocational or trade courses, your teens might be interested in getting a jump on career training.)

Teens need to know class participation skills

When should teens take dual enrollment classes?

There is not a simple answer to this because each college and state has different rules.

Most of the time, though some courses may be open to:

High school juniors and seniors (some colleges do not have age restrictions).

When they are ready and willing to take on the rigor of a college course

Make sure your teens want to take this on, so no one wastes time and money. (We discuss success tips/skills later in this post.)

When they have clarified an interest or major

If they have chosen a major, they will know which courses or general education classes will be best for them. Or if they have a special interest (such as my daughter’s photography), they can begin work on a certificate or other specialized training.

Which dual-enrollment courses should they take?

Again, there are lots of answers to this question. The most obvious are:

General education courses

Most colleges have some general education courses that all students must take, regardless of major. These are often courses like:

  • Freshman Composition
  • Some kind of Literature
  • Several History or Social Science courses
  • Often some Science course(s)
  • Some colleges require a World Language course or two

Remember to check with colleges of interest to see what courses will actually transfer.

Courses that develop an interest or get your teen started on their major

Look for certificate programs at the community college to develop interests.

For starting on their major, check the college of interest’s basic courses in that major. However, be sure to check with that college to see if dual-enrollment courses will be accepted. Some colleges want all their major courses taken at that college.

Scheduling Backwards
Click image for full description.

If they take dual-enrollment course, what are some important academic success tips?

Please do not skip this part. Teens who are taking college courses need some basic skills for success. Here are a few:

Homeschooling is awesome. We parents and teens can work together to make the best educational choices for our teens’ needs.

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Vicki Tillman

Blogger, curriculum developer at 7SistersHomeschool.com, counselor, life and career coach, SYMBIS guide, speaker, prayer person. 20+year veteran homeschool mom.

4 Replies to “Dual Enrollment for Homeschoolers- What to Know”

  1. Biggest missed con: CONTENT. I have encountered *many* homeschoolers who come from a Christian background and whose parents allowed them to do secular community-college DE classes, and they ended up “woke,” brainwashed, and/or quitting their faith. Many of the courses recommended above (social sciences, literature, composition, etc.) are the *worst* offenders when it comes to indoctrination attempts, pornographic/blasphemous/depressing/LGBTQ+ content, etc., and many teens can’t/don’t survive it. No amount of “free” (funded by money stolen from taxpayers and given to those who didn’t earn it) DE classes is worth the damage it can inflict upon those who are unprepared. (And I’ve had many conversations with students whose parents insist they came through DE classes intact, faith-wise, but from those conversations with those kids it was easy to tell that their entire mindsets and ways of talking and thinking had been radically altered.

    • The process by which our kids move into adulthood is a complex one, for sure! As you and Vicki both said, some teens are not ready for dual enrollment for any number of reasons.

      There are countless thousands of moments in which each teen assumes greater responsibility for the life that is theirs alone — the life we as parents steward for a season, but that eventually must be theirs to live.

      We are certainly wise to factor in a teen’s maturity level in regards to discernment, critical thinking, and their confidence in asking good questions around complex moral and social issues when we consider dual enrollment.

      I would posit that providing spaces *with* parents in which our teens can practice asking honest, hard questions, and pushing back against the understandings of faith with which they have been raised, without fear of condemnation, is a wise investment in their discipleship. If the first people who allow them to deeply explore what they truly believe (rather than what they have been taught is true) are strangers, they may reach the conclusion that “faith” is nothing more than a series of memorized responses to a long list of topics.

      In my own personal experience, I don’t think that I would choose to use words like, “woke,” “brainwashed,” “quitting their faith,” and “indoctrinated,” as the most accurate descriptors. Instead, I have heard from many young adults who found people outside their nuclear family gave voice, for the first time, to questions, thoughts, dilemmas, and perceived contradiction that they had experienced themselves for years, but about which they had not found any appropriate place for honest discussion.

      I’m sure this is not the universal experience, of course. Thanks for sharing what you have observed, Karen.

      I have encountered it often enough, though, to wonder if many students who come home from their first college courses questioning their family or church of origin have not necessarily been destroyed by that experience, even if has left them talking and thinking in radically different ways. Perhaps, instead, these teens are entering another season of growth as disciples, one in which the metaphorical “law” they learned as kids (when they had only childlike reasoning skills) is no longer enough for them, a season in which they want personal transformation in the core of who they are, a transformation we (with our years of experience in faith) know will put down roots in Jesus that will be their own, and will yield ongoing growth for the rest of their lives.

      It is frightening to watch our kids come up against situations in which they are no longer be able to handle it all with the truth we have taught them, in which they must instead wrestle truth until it becomes an actual belief of their own, an experience which they can own, and a transformation that forever changes the way they see God, themselves, and the world around them. I am a mom who has seen enough long and twisty paths toward true belief to be hesitant to label “damage” where there’s a next step in a lifelong journey of discipleship unfolding, so I guess I would say that I choose to focus on the faithfulness of God and the unfathomable work of His Spirit in each of us…through all the unique twists and turns!

      • Thanks for your reply, Sabrina!

        My point was, in part, that many parents do not adequately prepare their homeschoolers for challenges in the outside world, and that DE classes can be a drastic tipping point that sends their kids over the edge.

        “There are countless thousands of moments in which each teen assumes greater responsibility for the life that is theirs alone — the life we as parents steward for a season, but that eventually must be theirs to live.”

        Obviously, but DE can be a serious mistake, since many Christian families are sucked into the “free, FREE, FREE!” mentality as their primary thought, instead of the anti-God content prevalent in many of these classes, even should-be non-political classes like anatomy and chemistry, etc. Teenagers are still highly susceptible to influence–and as we’ve seen for 3+ years with mass-psychosis-influenced mask-wearers and gene-therapy-shot-takers, so are most *adults*. “Theirs to live”? Yes, but is DE–especially by aggressive revolutionaries–the appropriate situation? Thousands of personal, real-life examples mitigate against it, at least without careful research first.

        “In my own personal experience, I don’t think that I would choose to use words like, “woke,” “brainwashed,” “quitting their faith,” and “indoctrinated,” as the most accurate descriptors. Instead, I have heard from many young adults who found people outside their nuclear family gave voice, for the first time, to questions, thoughts, dilemmas, and perceived contradiction that they had experienced themselves for years, but about which they had not found any appropriate place for honest discussion.”

        I appreciate your own, individual, personal experience, but I could tell you dozens of stories just among my city, as well as countless others in different homeschooling families and co-ops around the country. “Woke,” “brainwashed,” “quitting their faith,” and “indoctrinated” are probably the more *polite* things I’ve witnessed and heard from often teary-eyed moms and dads in many different states when they describe their mistakes in putting their teens in secular DE classes. Certainly there should have been more appropriate honest discussions at home…but exactly how many discussions at home do Christian parents have with their kids involving X-rated sex acts, repeated F-bombs and blasphemous language, gory and horrifying films and film clips, and so on? Sure, some of our kiddos get through it, but some of our kiddos get through public schools all throughout life…and we don’t support that!

        “I have encountered it often enough, though, to wonder if many students who come home from their first college courses questioning their family or church of origin have not necessarily been destroyed by that experience, even if has left them talking and thinking in radically different ways. Perhaps, instead, these teens are entering another season of growth as disciples, one in which the metaphorical “law” they learned as kids (when they had only childlike reasoning skills) is no longer enough for them, a season in which they want personal transformation in the core of who they are, a transformation we (with our years of experience in faith) know will put down roots in Jesus that will be their own, and will yield ongoing growth for the rest of their lives.”

        Sabrina, I appreciate your optimism and unflagging hopefulness, certainly! Of course, not all kids are destroyed by secular DE. But I’m not talking about simple adjustment of talk and language choices; I’m talking about an angry, defiant “You and Dad are homophobes and hate the poor, and we have nothing to talk about!” variations repeated more times than I can count from heartbroken parents. Certainly these outside classes are–very optimistically–potential sources of good conversations…but chucking our kids out there for radical, anti-God indoctrinators and hoping it will ideally nurture them along in a “season of growth”? We could take that to an extreme and say that viewing pornography and identifying as the opposite gender could result in some Life Growth as well, but is that godly, responsible parenting? And before we say, “That isn’t what I meant!” we should realize that that’s exactly what’s happening in CC DE classes in many cases–I’ve seen it and heard from *many* parents. (They’re not even bothering to hide homosexual indoctrination among *elementary* schoolers anymore!)

        “I am a mom who has seen enough long and twisty paths toward true belief to be hesitant to label “damage” where there’s a next step in a lifelong journey of discipleship unfolding, so I guess I would say that I choose to focus on the faithfulness of God and the unfathomable work of His Spirit in each of us…through all the unique twists and turns!”

        Again, Sabrina, I really appreciate your openness and incredible optimism! But the damage to our kids is real and doesn’t need quotation marks, and it often can’t be breezily categorized as “unique twists and turns,” as if they were hobbies or hair styles. Why wouldn’t we as Christian parents be more careful about discipling our children, and focusing less on getting something for “free”? Especially when the system openly tells us what it’s trying to do to our kids? Do we at least check out alternatives? Ask for reading lists in our kids’ DE classes? Find out what topics will be discussed, in graphic detail, in what classes? How about Christian DE?

        I’m not saying this is *your* experience, but your last paragraph reads like many moms I’ve talked to who have just put their kids in classes with teachers with agendas and R- to X-rated content, and shrugged it off with, “Well, we’re just praying she gets through it okay!” Needless to say, many of those moms (and dads) years later are the ones with deep regrets that they know they should have worked harder to provide a better alternative to. God is faithful, but we should be faithful in what we expose our children to as well. We can do much better!

        • While I have to respectfully disagree with much in your perspective on these much broader ideas, Karen, I thank you for sharing your heart. I read your reply carefully and appreciated the food for prayerful thought. There is certainly plenty now in Vicki’s post and in the comments that follow that provides information and opinions about dual enrollment to help parents make the best decisions for their kids.

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