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Parent Question: We want to use dual enrollment, but what if she gets a bad grade?

A parent from our Texas Homeschooling for College Credit Facebook group asks “Hi, I’m new to this. I would like to help my 9th grader to start her classes thought dual enrollment. My question is if she doesn’t get a good grade that will affect her GPA and also be on her college record. Is there anyway you can avoid that happen?? Any suggestions?? Thank you!!”

Not only is this a common question, but it’s a SUPER IMPORTANT question! The quick answer is that her college grades earned in high school through dual enrollment will be part of her permanent record, but the longer answer is that you CAN help avoid any negative repercussions by following a few important steps.

  1. Since college classes do generate a “paper trail” which is to say they are part of her permanent record and have to be disclosed on all future college applications, the decision to enroll your teen should not be taken lightly. Be sure both the teen and the parents understand the gravity of taking a college class and discuss a plan for if things go downhill.
  2. Having an exit strategy when things go wrong is super important. Every college has an official cut off date for withdrawal, you’ll need to know that asap. This date is probably part of the student’s syllabus, but if you don’t see it, simply call the college and ask. That is the LAST day your teen could withdrawal if they had to.
  3. Map out where the points for her grade will come from and stay on top of the math. Unlike some high school classes, it isn’t always easy to understand that college assignments may carry different weights, and this can mean big surprises if you’re not careful.
    • Assignments worth the most weight should get the most attention.
    • Assignments worth the least weight are important, but they won’t have the same impact!
  4. If your teen’s grades are hoovering around the 70% mark, this is a warning sign. For most college classes, a grade of “C” may not be enough to maintain dual enrollment eligibility or get the course to count later toward a degree. This varies by college of course, but if your daughter is close to the line and the likelihood of pulling up the grade is low, you may want to formally withdrawal and try again next semester. You probably won’t get a refund, but you’ll preserve her GPA. (you have to know the weight of each assignment to see how likely she is to pull up out of it- sometimes there aren’t enough points available to off-set a really low average)
  5. When in doubt, withdrawal. Yes, a “W” will appear on her college transcript, but that has zero impact on her GPA. Having a “W” is not the end of the world, in fact, it’s unlikely that anyone will ever care!! Sure, ultra-competitive colleges might care, but students who struggle with freshman level college classes aren’t aiming for ultra-competitive colleges, so there is no reason to stress over this. If she withdrawals, you don’t have to record anything on the high school transcript.

Anything else?

Yes! You may want to consider some college credit options that don’t leave a “paper trail” which is to say there is no consequences for passing or failing. Good alternatives include:

Arizona State University’s Universal Learner Program (only pay if you like your grade)

Advanced Placement Exam (AP) (every bit as challenging as dual enrollment)

College Level Exam Program (CLEP) (zero risk, zero cost)

DSST/DANTES Exams (similar to CLEP)

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Executive Director of Homeschooling for College Credit