NOTE: Today we have a guest post from Destiny Mawson who writes at Some Call It Destiny with information helpful for homeschooling all levels from preschool through high school. I love that she can fill in on a topic I know very little about — how to do homeschool dual enrollment. This article will answer your questions, help you decide if dual enrollment is right for you, and tell you how to proceed. Thanks, Destiny!
As your teen’s junior and senior year of homeschool high school approaches, questions start stirring about dual enrollment classes. Whether or not dual enrollment was part of your teen’s original four-year plan, you are now looking at it with renewed vigor.
After all, dual enrollment is a great opportunity for teens to earn college credit and explore possible career interests.
Before you jump into dual enrollment classes, arm yourself with the knowledge to proceed forward with confidence.
How Do I Know if My Teen is Ready?
The crucial information to deciding if your teen should take dual enrollment classes is knowing if they can handle the classes and college environment. Before taking dual enrollment classes your teen should be able to:
- Handle college level course work
- Have good time management skills
- Be an independent learner with good study habits
- Be confident discussing concerns with other adults
- Know how to communicate effectively
- Be mature enough to handle an adult environment
If your teen is missing one of these milestones, have them brainstorm what they can do to meet the conditions.
If they’ve met everything on the checklist, then dual enrollment courses are good to consider.
What Does the Dual Enrollment Process Look Like?
The dual enrollment process is going to vary slightly depending on where you are located and where your teen takes classes.
Most community colleges are accustomed to working with homeschool students, and their guidance counselor will walk you through the process. If your teen is going through a university or online school, they may not be as familiar.
Here are some of the steps you can expect:
- First, make an appointment with the schools guidance counselor.
- Next, take any placement tests. These are usually for English and Math.
- Finally, enroll in classes and pay applicable fees.
Some high schools offer dual enrollment classes for their students. It is worth checking to see if homeschooled students are allowed to take classes at the community college through the local high school. For states that participate in Running Start, students can get two years of free community college, so it is worth looking into.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Homeschool Dual Enrollment in High School
As with most things, there are advantages and disadvantages to homeschooled teens taking dual enrollment classes in high school. You should be aware of both to decide if the benefits outweigh the costs.
Advantages to dual enrollment classes:
- Teens can earn college credit getting a jump start on higher education.
- Dual enrollment classes can offset the overall cost of college.
- Teens have the opportunity to graduate with an Associates degree at the same time as receiving their high school diploma.
- Depending on career goals, they can have their training completed by the time they graduate high school.
- It allows them to explore interests more deeply.
- They learn responsibility and ownership over their choices.
Disadvantages to dual enrollment classes:
- College professors will not talk to parents.
- Parents do not have access to grades.
- You can’t change the grade if you don’t like it, and it MUST go on their high school transcript.
- Teens will be exposed to ideas and concepts that may vary drastically from home values.
- It is an adult environment — teens may be in classes with people who have criminal backgrounds, paired with much older students, or be pursued by college students.
- There is a loss of flexibility over when school happens.
Knowing the pros and cons of dual enrollment classes will aid you in making your decision. It also allows you and your teen to discuss the disadvantages and outline what will be expected to offset them.
How Much Help Should the Parent Provide?
When it comes to dual enrollment classes, the parent’s role should be rather limited. It is a good exercise in adulthood to allow your teen to do the leg work. Let them look into what the college requires and the steps that need to be taken. Colleges, even community colleges, are very clear they do not deal with parents regardless of the student’s age. This will give your teen practice taking the initiative to find the information themselves, relying on you for guidance only.
Once enrolled in the class, it will be their job to make sure they understand the syllabus and to approach the instructor with any questions or concerns. They are responsible for doing the work and seeking help if needed.
Your role as the parent is to support. Certainly, ask them about their class. Check in to make sure everything is going smoothly. Ask what their plan is to accomplish large projects, but allow them the freedom to succeed (or fail) on their own. Offer encouragement and advice for dealing with stress, but understand the responsibility for the class lies with them.
What if My Teen Does Poorly in Their Dual Enrollment Class?
This is where it is important to keep the communication open with your teen about how well their class is going. Every semester there will be dates where you can drop the class and dates where you can switch to a Pass/Fail. Know when these dates are. They are your first line of defense. If your teen is really struggling, either with the material or the determination to do the work, it may be best to withdraw.
If you miss the withdrawal date or decide to push through and receive a less than ideal grade, there is still an option to fix it.
Most colleges offer a grade replacement opportunity. This allows a person the opportunity to re-take the class and have the grade replaced with a (hopefully) better grade. These opportunities are limited and should be used only if truly necessary.
Having your homeschooled teen take dual enrollment classes can be a great benefit. It is an opportunity for them to try on adulthood while still in the refuge of their home. But homeschool dual enrollment is not for every teen. And that’s okay! Hopefully, the information provided here will allow you and your teen to make the best decision for the remaining high school years.