Posted in Dual Enrollment, High School, HS4CC

Are 4 college classes too many?

If you’re using dual enrollment in high school, you’re probably faced with the problem of figuring out how many college credits vs high school credits your teen can balance and still pull good grades.  This is no small problem because college classes leave a paper trail!  In short- it’s part of their permanent record.

My sons can’t handle many more than 4 classes at a time (homeschool or college) without being stretched too thin, so I’ve used this little scheduling trick to help them from becoming over-loaded but still taking advantage of earning about 30-45 college credits per year in high school.

Understanding College Lingo

Taking 12-15 credits is considered “full-time” in college lingo.  That amounts to 4-5 classes, and for young students, that course load is really heavy (let’s be honest, it’s heavy for MOST students of any age).

Earning college credit in high school either buys you a lighter schedule in the future, or a shorter path toward a degree – both amazing opportunities.

  • If your student takes 12 credits per full semester (Fall / Spring) it will take 10 full semesters to complete a bachelor’s degree (5 years).
  • If your student takes 15 credits per full semester (Fall / Spring) it will take 8 full semesters to complete a bachelor’s degree (4 years).
  • Your teen can add extra credit by homeschooling for college credit in high school through dual enrollment, summer sessions, CLEP, and AP exams.

If your community college is typical, their courses will last for 16 weeks in a full semester.   In this case, 2 homeschool classes and 2 college classes might look like this:

Semester 1 Semester 2
period 1 High School Class

Spanish 1

High School Class

Spanish 1

period 2 High School Class

Piano 1

High School Class

Piano 1

period 3 College Class

English 1

College Class

English 2

period 4 College Class

Amer. Govt.

College Class

Psychology

There’s nothing wrong with this schedule! It’s a normal approach, and earning 12 college credits in a year is an accomplishment!!!  This sample student is earning dual enrollment credit for 4 courses this year, so remember to award them high school credit for each college class too!

  • 12 college credits (4 courses)
  • 6 high school credits
    • 1 high school credit in Spanish
    • 1 high school credit in Piano
    • 2 high school credits in English (3 college credits = 1 high school credit)
    • 1 high school credit in American Government
    • 1 high school credit in Psychology

Now…. let’s resourcefully plan

A newer option is to offer 8-week sessions in addition to the 16-week sessions. If you’ve noticed these at your teen’s college, I want to show you how they can fill a schedule without requiring more sessions per day.

While it seems like these shorter classes “should” be double the work or twice as fast, that’s not been our experience. My very average sons were able to manage 8-week sessions at multiple colleges in dozens of classes and still earn A’s and B’s with average effort. Still, I always knew that I could slow down or stop our homeschool classes if necessary.  It’s not a bad idea to have a plan in place like we did…just incase.

This schedule makes the most of your student’s time (still 4 periods) but they’ll earn a lot more high school & college credit!

Semester 1

First 8 weeks

Semester 1

Second 8 weeks

Semester 2

First 8 weeks

Semester 2

Second 8 weeks

period 1 High School Spanish 1 High School Spanish 1 High School Spanish 1 High School Spanish 1
period 2 High School Piano 1 High School Piano 1 High School Piano 1 High School Piano 1
period 3 College Class English 1 College Class English 2 College Class American Lit College Class English Lit
period 4 College Class

Amer. Govt.

College Class

Psychology

College Class

US History 1

College Class

US History 2

  • 24 college credits (8 courses)
  • 10 high school credits
    • 1 high school credit in Spanish
    • 1 high school credit in Piano
    • 2 high school credits in English (3 college credits = 1 high school credit)
    • 2 high school credits in Literature
    • 1 high school credit in American Government
    • 1 high school credit in Psychology
    • 2 high school credits in US History

If your teen has access to free or reduced tuition for dual enrollment, you only have a few years to take advantage of that savings- so a simple schedule adjustment can make a big difference to your budget, and it just takes a little resourceful planning.

lady

Author:

Site Owner of Homeschooling for College Credit, College on the Cheap, and Homeschool Exit Strategies.

3 thoughts on “Are 4 college classes too many?

  1. Good post! I’ve heard of half-semester courses but haven’t seen many. Will keep an eye out!

    On Wed, Dec 29, 2021 at 7:00 AM Homeschooling for College Credit wrote:

    > Jennifer Cook-DeRosa posted: “If you’re using dual enrollment in high > school, you’re probably faced with the problem of figuring out how many > college credits vs high school credits your teen can balance and still pull > good grades. This is no small problem because college classes” >

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  2. This idea of a “permanent record” is simply not so permanent. A couple of thoughts here:
    1. Students can withdraw from classes. Yes, they get a W on their transcript. So what?
    2. Many schools have “D & F repeat” rules where a student can retake a class and the original grade is replaced in their GPA with the new grade.

    Students are learning more than course content. Things like time management, organization, accountability, how to interact with administrators and professors. Grades are just one measurement of success.

    And recall that for most students, GPA is not all that important. “C’s get degrees” and once they get a little experience no one will likely ever even request grades.

    It’s a journey.

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    1. Hi Tom, you’re right in that taking a “W” is always better than taking an F (and sometimes a D)!! Always take the “W” and we both agree that “C’s get degrees.”
      Where advising high school students differs slightly from advising high school graduates is in the handling of repeat rules. It’s not generally permitted to repeat a college course *while in high school** and a few low grades will certainly compromise dual enrollment eligibility. Students with a poor credits attempted/credits earned ratio may lose DE eligibility which means loss of free tuition. I for sure want to help parents be their teen’s best guidance counselor, which means giving them tools to win.

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