You keep hearing about dual enrollment, but what is it exactly?
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 a universally defined term. 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 dual enrollment 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, but several allow younger teens.
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. This is where our HS4CC Facebook groups can help. We have groups for every state, and yours will likely be up-to-the-minute on what’s available and how to get access.
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 2,000 community colleges in the United States, this opens up a fantastic opportunity for homeschooled teens.
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, colleges do not “count” these credits against your teen’s status when applying as a freshman. This is also true of federal financial aid. Your teen will enroll/apply to college after high school as a freshman. Once enrolled, the credit is brought over, usually their first or second semester and their status will be adjusted (bumped up) to the correct rank. This method of counting is a nice little perk that keeps the freshman scholarship options on the table.
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.
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 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.