What is Dual Enrollment?
One of the most beneficial movements in the past ten years for the homeschooling world has been the growth of dual enrollment in the United States. Dual enrollment — also known by names such as “concurrent enrollment” or “dual credit” – – simply means the ability to take courses at a local college, community college, or via an online program that count as credit for BOTH high school and college. This allows high schoolers to advance their education more quickly, explore subjects of interest, and (especially in states which help fund these courses) receive their higher education degree at a lower overall cost. Thus, the student is essentially using one course to get dual credit. Good news – most states in the U.S. offer some type of system that addresses this need. Many states even offer dual enrollment college courses to high school students for free. However, not all state’s dual enrollment programs are created equal and therefore before considering if this is right for your family you’ll need to research your state’s guidelines and requirements.
The FAQ on Dual Enrollment
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 for 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!!
- Is Dual Enrollment right for everyone? This is definitely a no. Each student has a different life path that they will take once they graduate. If you or your student do not plan on going to college then there is little need for taking dual enrollment courses. In addition, these courses can take their toll. Taking a college course while in high school does require a good bit of diligence, discipline, and determination!
- What courses should be taken for dual enrollment? This answer will vary again by the student. When taking dual enrollment courses you will want them to align with the courses that are needed for graduation from high school. This typically will bring you to the core college courses that every student will need to take once they begin college. It’s the perfect place to start and beginning with the foundational freshman college courses will be most similar to the courses an eleventh or twelfth-grade high schooler may be familiar with.
- What options does the student have for dual enrollment? As the dual enrollment programs become more developed the options are also growing. First, students should investigate local or community colleges for dual enrollment opportunities. Secondly, many states have online courses that are easily transferrable between colleges, and finally, look into universities that may be close. Courses taken at a university may be a bit more challenging to the homeschooler since the class size may be larger and the academic rigor a bit more challenging.
- Should we attempt dual enrollment if we don’t know our major? Don’t worry about declaring a major especially at this stage. All college students must take almost two years worth of core classes. The dual enrollment courses that are taken during high school typically count toward the college core.
We’ve developed a detailed page that answers all your questions about dual enrollment. Visit the FAQ about Dual Enrollment page to get all the details. However, here are some quick answers to the most common questions!
What about Dual Enrollment in My State?
One of the most wonderful opportunities for many high-schooled homeschoolers is the chance to take one or more college courses while they are still in high school. Not only can it be a venue for “outsourcing” some of the more lab-intensive or collaboration-improved courses, but it also allows homeschoolers to get a head start on their college degree since many states allow the courses to count as both credit for high school AND college.
Sadly, not every state offers a dual-enrollment program, but for those that do, it’s important to find out what the rules are for enrolling, how the credits are counted, and whether the courses are free to students or require tuition. Discover more information about Dual Enrollment in Your State here.
What to Expect with Dual Enrollment
Homeschooled kids have it easiest when it comes to dual enrolling in a college because of their usually flexible-as-rubber schedules. Being dual enrolled for some years myself, I will warn that it can be a major change – for better or worse – as a homeschool student, and not just because of switching to a traditional classroom setting.
- Homework – College work differs from high school work in that there is a larger quantity of reading, homework, and memorization.
- Age Differences – The minimum age for dual enrollment varies based on state and school (some set it at sixteen, some allow teenagers under sixteen to join in). One thing I learned from being dual enrolled is that no matter your age, your teachers (who don’t necessarily know your age) are probably going to treat you like an adult.
- Self-Management – While it’s true that any kind of high school curriculum requires some degree of self-management to succeed, schedules and responsibilities outside of homework are often clearly laid out for high school students, especially homeschooled ones. In college, it’s a little different: you do go to class and have specific homework assignments, but everything beyond that is your problem.
Visit our page on Requirements for Dual Enrollment to get more details on college requirements and suggestions for homeschoolers.
How to Count Dual Enrollment Credits on Your Transcript
If you are preparing a high school transcript for a homeschooler, and he or she has used a variety of different materials, outside courses and curricula to complete their coursework, then you may be wondering how to tally the credits for the courses they have taken.
In general, a course that takes approximately a school year, or 120-180 hours of work to complete counts as one credit. A course that takes approximately one semester, or 60 hours to complete, would receive half credit. But with every student’s homeschooling journey being unique, how does that play out in terms of different learning materials? Take a look at the following infographic to help you decide.