College-Based Dual Enrollment
Hardly available five years ago, dual enrollment is hot now and growing in popularity. High school students enrolled in a dual enrollment program, are “double-dipping” a course for high school and college credit. As an example, a student may take English 101 at the local college, and the parent also “counts” the course as their 12th grade English class. It’s a fantastic opportunity if you’re aware it exists.
caution: dual enrollment courses won’t be censored for your teen. Maturity should always be considered.
Dual enrollment is not universally defined. I use “dual enrollment” as a generic catch-all term to mean any college course a high school student takes for college credit and high school credit at the same time. Be aware that most colleges or school districts will have a specific definition. It can get complicated, but we will help you navigate the process.
Examples of program brand names:
Career and College Promise
Postsecondary Enrollment Option (PSEO)
Joint High School
Articulated High School
The concept is the same, but the details will vary—sometimes a lot. A typical dual enrollment program is open to 11th, and 12th-grade students while meeting a high school diploma and college degree requirement simultaneously. They offer an assortment of classes and are open to anyone with the ambition to succeed.
The student attends class, online or in person, along with the regular college students. Some states offer this for free; others charge full tuition, so you’ll have to check your community. Registration for homeschool students is done directly with the college. If you’d like, you can even search beyond your state. Many community colleges offer their distance learning courses as dual enrollment, so the location of the physical campus isn’t relevant. With nearly 3,800 colleges in the United States, most allowing participation, this opens up a fantastic opportunity for homeschooled teens.
As a homeschool family, your teen’s access to dual enrollment is often better than if they were in public school. In many states, the public school’s guidance counselor chooses which students and which courses are offered, and generally, only the top scoring students are eligible. As the homeschool administrator, you can choose whether or not your teen participates, and if they aren’t eligible to participate locally, you can choose to use a different college outside your state. If you want to learn it, it’s out there to learn!
Though this isn’t the case in all 50 states, nearly every state has determined that college courses taken for dual enrollment at a public community college are guaranteed to transfer into that state’s public university system. Not having that guarantee doesn’t mean that it won’t transfer, but having the guarantee is an added peace of mind! Even in these guaranteed transfer states, a private university often marches to their own drum and can reject the transfer of credit with otherwise excellent transferability.
Your teen is still A FIRST TIME FRESHMAN even when they’ve earned college credit in high school.
Your teen can take dual enrollment courses locally or online in every state. The rules to participate and who pays are the variables that you’ll want to consider. As a homeschool parent, you are NOT locked into using your local program- your teen can enroll in any program they qualify for. What you will be restricted by, is if your state funds dual enrollment. Even in instances where tuition may be free, you’ll still usually have to pay for textbooks, lab fees, or special clothing. College textbooks are unimaginably expensive, and you don’t always have the choice to purchase used books. Anticipate paying at least $100 for a textbook and more if it has a lab.
Who pays? Dual Enrollment for Homeschools by State
If you’re paying full price for your dual enrollment, you should know that tuition is charged per credit, not per course. To calculate a course’s cost, multiply the number of credits in the course times the tuition cost per credit. A typical college course is 3 credits. At $100 per credit, a 3 credit course is $100 x 3 = $300.
For parents who want religious dual enrollment courses, I keep a list of colleges with proper accreditation and open to homeschooling students living any state.
The down-side to dual enrollment is simple, if your child bombs the class, the grade is on their permanent record at the college. Colleges require you to disclose all previously earned credit under penalty, so that “D” may count against future college applications, but for sure counts in their college GPA. For that reason, do not rush your child into a course before they’re ready, and consider taking only 1 course at first. Adjusting to a college schedule is difficult for most people of any age.
Lastly, in my college classroom where I was the instructor, more than 90% of the “F” grades I’d given out were simply a result of failing to withdrawal. Meaning, the student didn’t fail for academic reasons, they simply didn’t withdrawal properly. In other words, never allow your teen to stop attending class—even if it’s an “online” class. If your teen is not going to pass their class, for any reason, withdrawal from the course immediately. You may or may not get any of your tuition back, but you are protecting your GPA, which is more important. Always withdrawal your child instead of allowing a failing grade for the course.
For the motivated student, it’s possible to earn an entire certificate, diploma, or associate’s degree along with his high school diploma. The following states offer free dual enrollment options to homeschooled students at the time of this writing:
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
In-State or Out-of-State?
Participating in dual enrollment out of state is always a self-pay situation. Financial aid is not an option for high school students, so anyone choosing this option must always budget for tuition and books. Most colleges that offer dual enrollment will significantly reduce their tuition for high school students! A private liberal arts college may charge regular students $2,000 per class while high school students can take that same class for as little as $300. As you can see, it’s to your teen’s advantage to take as many classes at the reduced rate as possible.
we’ve built Homeschooling for College Credit Facebook groups for every state to specifically help parents locate and take advantages of local resources.
A parent from our North Carolina Facebook group writes:
“The admissions rep from NCSU pointed out that if a student completes two years at a community college and transfers into ANY North Carolina public college, then the savings is the equivalent of them winning a huge scholarship. I hadn’t thought of it like that. He said the savings is between $28,000 and $32,000. That’s pretty awesome!”