Dual-enrollment or DE refers to taking a college class while still in school. Many college-bound homeschoolers choose DE to take advantage of lab sciences and foreign language classes, the two subjects that can be hardest to teach at home. DE is also a great way to cover coursework that needn’t be stretched over a full year of high school. Gifted and advanced students might be ready for the challenge of DE while still in middle school while other teens we’ve worked with wait till their junior and senior years to try a college class or two.
This post walks you through some of the questions to think about when considering DE.
1. When is a homeschooled student ready for college classes?
Ready means different things for different kids. Many freshmen and sophomores struggle with the executive function skills they need to do well in DE classes. When a teen is ready, it usually means that they are so eager to work at the college level that they self-learn the skills they need to succeed. Inner motivation is, in my humble opinion, the best gauge for DE readiness. My always-homeschooled teen started DE before time management and executive function skills were solid. Yet, it turned out to be a fabulous decision. After about a semester, my student found it easier and easier to plan and pace the workload. I credit this to my student’s willpower to experience and succeed in college classes. It is, however, quite common for kids to find the hit-the-ground-running nature of college coursework stressful and anxiety-provoking. College classes work on a semester or quarter basis, squeezing a full textbook worth of material into about 16 or 12 weeks respectively. A student who is not able to manage their time at all might feel overwhelmed with the steady pace of assignments and tests. Give them time! It’s completely fine to wait till they are ready to take the leap.
2. What skills should my student have in order to succeed in a college class?
Maturity. At the college level, most instructors and other personnel will refuse to talk to parents. College classes, especially in literature and the humanities, also frequently touch on topics of an adult nature. Your teen should be mature enough to navigate such experiences on their own. Willingness to learn. As long as they are open to it and there are no marked learning disabilities, motivated students do pick up time management and study skills quickly. Be their cheerleader and encourage them to do their best. Independence. Everyone feels swamped at some point in their lives. A teen who knows how to recognize this, speak up, and ask for help can still succeed in a DE class. Most colleges have tutoring centers, counselors on staff, and a disability services center to help struggling students. Students should also avail of their professors’ office hours to ask questions or express concerns. A student who really wants to DE but feels anxious about being on campus amongst adult learners might find an online section to be a good match.
3. Where do we look for DE classes in the first place?
While some brick-and-mortar high school students take DE classes within their high school, in this post, we refer to DE classes taken at a community college, a state university, or a four-year private or public university. Homeschoolers can start by looking for colleges in your local area and shortlisting providers that seem like the best fit. Visit the campus, research the course catalog, and read faculty reviews by college students via websites like RateMyProfessors.com. Do note that there might be age or credit-hour restrictions for high school students. Research if your student must fulfill certain requirements, including standardized or placement testing, in order to DE in that institution. Read the school’s website carefully and check with their admissions office for details. This link takes you to a site that lists DE requirements by state*.
4. How do I record this class on my student’s transcript?
Let common sense rule. Follow the exact course name when including this class on the high school transcript. In some states, one semester or a quarter of a college class is given the same number of credits as a full year of a high school class. Check with your local public high school to see how much credit DE students receive from taking similar credit hour classes at the same community college or university. It makes sense to follow that system so that when your student applies to college full-time, the admissions committee that is reading the application will be able to compare stats objectively. For course descriptions, you can copy and paste the description from the college’s catalog or instructor’s syllabus to your course description document.
5. What else should we know about DE?
Colleges are very impressed by students who take and do well in DE classes. However, students should not DE for this purpose alone. DE is a commitment and a time investment that the student should be prepared to make towards their academic goals. Students who DE for interest in a course or topic may fare much better in the class compared to students who DE simply to check a box for their transcript.
Depending on the location, DE can also be an expensive investment, especially if the student is DE-ing at a private or public four-year university.
DE also creates a permanent record. When your student self-studies a class or takes one of the typical outsourced class from regular homeschool providers, you might not need to include that class in your student’s transcript if your student doesn’t want you to. DE classes, however, must be reported in the high school transcript and official DE transcripts will need to be sent with your student’s four-year college application in senior year. It is very important therefore, that your student take note of withdrawal dates for these classes if they think they would rather not continue with the class.
As with everything else, do your research!
If your student is curious about taking college classes while homeschooling, contact us! We can help you to visualize how to integrate dual-enrollment with a four-year high school plan.
*Simplify is not responsible for any inaccurate information provided in external links.