How can homeschoolers participate in dual enrollment courses?


Graduate with cap and gown

Dual enrollment is like a school BOGO option- buy one, get one! It’s amazing! Dual enrollment is an opportunity for high school students to enroll in college courses and receive both high school and college credit (assuming a passing grade) with minimal college expense.

Homeschool students can participate in dual enrollment courses as long as they meet the college requirements. Most require a student to be at least 16 years old and have a certain GPA or test scores.

Earning dual credits has been so successful in many states that (sadly) government officials have started limiting participation in the program.

The goal of writing this is to help families learn how dual enrollment works and determine if it’s a good option for them.

First, it’s important to figure out if this option is a good fit for your student. Typically, if he or she has good time management and organization skills, self-motivation and is a serious, studious learner, then this option should be a natural fit in high school. It’s also important that they are socially and emotionally mature enough if this is being considered in the early high school years.

If these are areas where your child struggles, then it may be best to earn regular high school credits or ease into one dual enrollment course at a time to start.

If your homeschooler knows the college and career path (or has it narrowed down) they want to take early on, this will make the dual enrollment process much easier. You would start by looking at the admission requirements and could go ahead and reach out to an advisor with any questions.

Most college career pathways have their own website with a printable checklist of courses needed to graduate. This could also be a handy resource because you could choose courses that are most likely to count as either a course credit or an elective.

Below are several common questions among parents and students exploring dual enrollment.

The best source of information for your student will come from college guidance advisors. They would be able to provide a resource that answers state/local specific questions about dual enrollment.

Why choose dual enrollment courses?

  • Good experience for students (and parents) to transition to college
  • Double the credit
  • Options in class format- on a campus or online
  • Lightens the course load as a college freshman
  • Increases confidence in completing college courses
  • Helps develop good skills in time management and pacing
  • Affordability- college courses without tuition and room & board (there may be fees for parking, labs or books)
  • Allows a chance to try out course work before moving to a campus
  • Increases the chance to graduate early

Can homeschoolers do dual enrollment?

Yes! If your homeschooler is ready and has interest in dual enrollment, it is a great opportunity. In fact, the success of dual enrollment programs has been so significant that many state legislatures are putting more restrictions on enrollment, saying that it’s not sustainable in the long term. 🙁

Colleges that participate in dual enrollment provide an opportunity to high school students and not necessarily to a specific school program. If homeschoolers meet the age requirements and complete any pre-requisite tests, dual enrollment is a great option to pursue.

Most high schoolers take dual enrollment courses between grades 10-12. If there is not a minimum age requirement in your state, students may be able to start dual enrollment courses as early as 8th grade.

How can homeschoolers participate in dual enrollment?

  1. Find which universities or technical colleges offer dual enrollment.
  2. Submit specific college admission criteria for dual enrollment.
  3. Upon approval, select courses (if future college of choice is known, check their criteria for course credits that transfer)
  4. Consult with an admissions advisor with any questions or concerns.
  5. If a withdrawal is necessary, make sure it’s done before the withdrawal deadline so that it’s not reported as a failing grade.

What are the differences between Dual Enrollment and Advanced Placement classes?

Dual enrollment courses are taken for college credit. Advanced Placement classes are rigorous high school classes that can (potentially) count as college credit if the criteria for course exam scores is met.

Some colleges prefer AP classes while others don’t place as much emphasis on a particular course and, instead, look more at the overall picture of a student’s high school career.

Advanced Placement classes are taken on the high school campus unless the school offers an online program that has AP courses.

Can homeschoolers go to community colleges?

Community colleges are fantastic for taking college level courses and receiving credit towards a two year degree. Some community colleges also have certain fields where students can earn a 4 year degree. Cost and convenience are two reasons for starting at a community college.

Your child can still move off for college if they desire that experience after starting at a community school. If this is the ultimate plan, it would be good to find out if the community college has a “partner 4 year college” which would make the process go much more smoothly. Usually when two schools have this type of partnership, all of the credits transfer from one to the other.

Can homeschoolers get dual credit at home?

Dual credit comes through courses either taken on a high school campus, a community college campus or online from home. If the student is taking two courses, it could even be one on campus and one online from home.

Most public high school students prefer to take a dual credit course at home. They like to sign up for an online course in either the first or last block of the day to be able to have that freedom of coming in to school later or leaving earlier. Homeschoolers already have that type of freedom in their school day so they would just need to build in a consistent time to work on the assignments online.

Do Ivy League schools accept dual enrollment credits?

Most students headed to Ivy League colleges have decided that is a goal long before it’s time to apply. All admissions requirements would be different and would require multiple applications, test scores, and other supplemental documents.

For dual enrollment, while it’s doubtful they would accept credits, it does show varied experience in a high school transcript. Ivy League schools do not disclose exactly what they are looking for with applicants, but one can assume they would be looking for highly motivated students who are going to finish their programs!

Do dual enrollment classes affect college GPA?

Possibly. This depends on the college and guidelines with scholarships, such as the Hope Scholarship. (Most colleges start fresh with GPA related to Hope.)

While this could be a different response based on individual college requirements, it’s not going to look good on a transcript if a student was unsuccessful with their dual enrollment courses!

What are CLEP exams for college credit?

CLEP exams provide another avenue to earn college credit. They are basically a (paid for) comprehensive test that, once passed with an approved score, can count towards college credit. This is not the same thing as dual credit but worth researching at your college of choice as another cost effective way to earn college credits.

These may be a good option for high school students who are particularly strong in a subject and at taking tests.

In summary, dual enrollment courses are a natural fit for may homeschool students and offer a great opportunity to transition to college!

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