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 2000 community colleges in the United States, this opens up a fantastic opportunity for homeschooled teens.
As a homeschool family, your teen’s participation in 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.
Specifically, regarding college-based dual enrollment, 4-year colleges do not “count” these credits when determining your teen’s status as a freshman until after they’ve enrolled. Once enrolled, the credit is brought over, usually their first or second semester. This method of counting is a nice little perk that keeps the freshman scholarship options on the table.
Every state allows dual enrollment of some kind, but most states do not have a state-wide policy. A few states do (Colorado, North Carolina, Georgia, and others) but most of us have to do a bit of research to see if homeschool students can participate, and what the enrollment participation requirements are. Currently, most states require the student to pay some or all of their tuition, but there are a few forward-thinking states that have budgeted free dual enrollment tuition for their high school students attending public colleges. 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.
If you’re paying full price for your dual enrollment, community college tuition is usually the best value. To calculate a course’s cost, multiply the number of credits issued for the course, times the tuition cost per credit. A typical college course is 3 credits, while a typical foreign language or science course is 4 credits. A 4 credit course offered by a college charging $125 per credit = $500 cost for the course.
For parents who would rather find Christian-based dual enrollment, contact your favorite Christian college and ask. Two popular choices among Homeschooling for College Credit parents are Liberty University and Bluefield College. Both are Virginia based 4-year universities that offer dual enrollment courses for high school students starting in 10th grade. Both are regionally accredited (important for transfer), and both offer their program through distance learning.
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’m an instructor, more than 90% of the “F” grades I’ve ever given out were simply a result of failing to withdrawal. The student simply stopped attending and didn’t officially complete withdrawal paperwork. This is an automatic (and permanent) “F” on a transcript. 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: Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
In-State or Out-of-State?
When a student “goes away” to college, tuition prices are often calculated based on the student’s state of residence. If you attend “in-state” that generally means a lower tuition cost than if you attend a college “out-of-state.” Students in high school are in a different category, and dual enrollment programs ALWAYS mean the student is still in high school living at home- so “where” they take their classes can be as simple as going down the street to your local community college, or as a distance learner attending a class 3 time zones away.
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.
There are a number of states that have robust free dual enrollment college programs, and if you are fortunate enough to live in one of these states, you’ll pay $0 tuition if your teen is in high school. (You’ll pay full price once they graduate). Since some dual enrollment is regulated per college, and others per district, and others per state, and from there may have different rules for homeschooled teens, it’s really hard to find these programs! There are no master lists that are updated often, but we’ve built Homeschooling for College Credit Facebook groups in every state to specifically address this question.
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!”