Math before College Algebra?

While College Algebra tends to be the “starter” math for dual enrollment, College Algebra requires (at a minimum) your student finish high school algebra 2 first. What if your teen is ready for college credit by not finished with Algebra 2? There are options!

I write a lot about lower level college math because I’ve gone through the same dilemma with two of my four sons. In both cases they weren’t far enough through their high school math sequence to be ready for the “lowest” math our local dual enrollment program offered.

college courses generate a permanent college record, when in doubt, wait it out until you’re sure they are ready for the course.

With my oldest, we rescheduled graduation so he could take his college level math after high school. This sounds “upside down” but it’s not uncommon for homeschooled teens to work above grade level in some subjects while being at or below grade level in others. So, we just kept going. He graduated high school with about 90 college credits, none of which were in math! After high school he took his required math courses and finished his bachelor’s degree.

Currently, my 10th grade son is working through a welding program at our local community college. He’ll have met all the program’s completion requirements in 11th grade, but he can’t graduate without college credit in math. If we can figure out the piece to this puzzle, he’ll be able to graduate from the welding program and start a second program before his high school graduation! Dual enrollment is free in my state, so I’m highly motivated to get him over this obstacle.

His program allows “any” math at 100 level or higher to check the box. It’s essential that you understand the requirements of any program and whether or not you have a choice to substitute a course. Sometimes a program allows “any” math, but other times a specific math is required. In our case, his program allows “any” math, which means a great deal more flexibility. My intent is to find a 100 level math that doesn’t require completion of Algebra 2, work on that this semester, and transfer it back into his community college. Of course he’s still finishing his high school math sequence with me at home, but checking this box will satisfy his college requirements for now.

I browsed about 25 college catalogs for fall, and most don’t offer a math lower than College Algebra. As a personal rule, anytime I do research like this, I always share what I find in the event that someone else out there is in the same boat. There is almost always a solution to every problem if you know where to look. I found 3 options. Two are dual enrollment options, and the third is credit by exam. The dual enrollment options below are both regionally accredited, courses are taken online, and neither require a math placement test!

Grand Canyon University (Arizona)

Private 4-year *religious university
Program Name: Dual Enrollment
Cost $52.50 per credit, 60 credit max, attend on-campus or online, 10th grade or higher, a restricted list of classes to choose from. No placement tests. More information

MATH144 College Math (4 credits) The course covers mathematics that matter in modern society. Key areas of focus include financial literacy, numerically-based decision making, growth, scale, and numerical applications. The course applies basic college-level mathematics to real-life problems and is appropriate for students whose majors do not require college algebra or higher.

Regent University (Virginia)

Private 4-year *religious university
Program Name: Early College
Cost $75/credit Fall 2021 (regular $155 per credit), no placement testing, 8 week sessions online, up to 30 credits max, age 16 or higher and completed 10th grade, money paid applies to future degree program. More information

MATH101 Math for Liberal Arts (3 credits) Study of several different fields of mathematics and their applications for liberal arts students. Through the process of discovery with everyday applications, students consider the beauty and elegance of mathematics as they improve their critical thinking and analytical skills. Topics include set theory, inductive and deductive reasoning, basic probability and statistics, number theory, algebraic modeling, basic geometry and trigonometry, and finance applications. Cannot be applied to the mathematics major.

Modern States + CLEP (Credit by Exam)

CLEP College Mathematics (6 credits) The College Mathematics examination covers material generally taught in a college course for non-mathematics majors and majors in fields not requiring knowledge of advanced mathematics.

There is no cost to pursue this option. Simply complete the Modern States College Math prep course (free) and earn a voucher that covers the cost of your CLEP exam.

Note: While I would love to choose this option for him, his college doesn’t accept this exam to meet the math requirement, so we’re ruling it out- but it’s a great option for those who can do it!

Math Success 4 Math Averse

So, if you already feel yourself mounting a reaction to the title, this post isn’t for you.  Like anything you’re good at, you can’t imagine that other people can’t “become” good at it too… if they only had a better attitude, different curriculum, a better teacher, etc.  STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) are…

Math in Your Homeschool: CLEP

At some point in your teen’s math sequence, you’ll cross over into math topics that are also part of a typical college math sequence.  This transition begins just after Algebra 1, and if parents are aware of this shift, it can result in significant amounts of college credit!

Math at Khan Academy

Khan Academy is getting so good!!  They’ve really evolved through the years into a robust curriculum, well beyond their early years as a youtube channel.  When I needed to show college credit in statistics as a prerequisite for graduate school, I taught myself stats using Khan Academy and earned college credit using the DSST exam.


Executive Director of Homeschooling for College Credit

One thought on “Math before College Algebra?

  1. Hi Jennifer 🙂 Just a heads up – GCU does have placement exams for Math and English. I signed my son up to take some dual enrollment about a month ago and he starts his first next Monday. We are shooting for completing four courses there, Math and English being two of them. Not sure when they started the placement exams. Students are given two attempts to pass each exam. If I remember correctly, the English exam needs to be passed with a 70% or above and Math with a 60% or above. BUT GCU offers practice quizzes, in both subjects, that can be taken without limit, to help students before taking their exams. My son is starting an English quiz today and I am looking forward to seeing what it entails, and how he does. After taking several quizzes this week, if he does well, we plan to take the exam. If he and passes, we plan to have him enrolled in English next week also!
    So grateful with all your help in trail blazing the homeschool dual enrollment pathway! It has been such a blessing!

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