Nearly two million kids in the U.S. are homeschooled.
Those students are uniquely positioned to get a jump-start on college by taking dual enrollment courses. What does dual-enrollment mean? Simply put, home school dual enrollment means a high school student can take one course for both high school and college credit. The advantages range from financial to social and emotional development.
The transition from high school to college can be challenging for students who are homeschooled. The online course environment can mitigate some of the anxiety. Online courses are sometimes self-paced, so students can take as much time as they need to learn the material. They can take classes in a familiar setting, as their own kitchen table!
They can schedule quizzes and exams when they feel ready. They don't have to sit for the exam when their college professor says they're ready. Online classes are also a very good way to see if a student is actually ready for a college curriculum.
Online college courses provide home school students with a chance to save a little money and still get college credits. The average price for a course at a 4-year university is anywhere between $300 - $1,100. That doesn't include fees and books.
In some cases, a student can take dual enrollment courses through a state public high school system. Most often, these dual enrollment courses are offered in partnership with a local community college.
Flexible Admissions Requirements
There isn't a standard set of admissions requirements in all states and for all schools. Some states allow students as young as 13 to apply for a dual enrollment class. Others require a student to be 16 and a high school sophomore.
Some school districts will allow students to apply for dual enrollment classes based only on their high school GPA. Others may require students to submit their standardized test scores. Students may also need to take an admissions test to qualify for dual enrollment courses.
Less Time in College
Most home school students who choose dual enrollment take a couple of courses each semester in 11th and 12th grade. It's not unusual for them to shave a year off their college course load while they're still in high school.
That's attractive to more and more students these days. In fact, enrollment in online classes grew more than five percent between fall 2015 and 2016. So-called distance education enrollments increased for the 14th straight year.
Scheduling Flexibility in Home School Dual Enrollment
Many home school students are comfortable learning in a non-traditional environment. They may not be used to attending classes at a specific time and spending the same amount of time in each class. That's one of the advantages of homeschooling. Students learn at their own pace in their own way. Online dual enrollment classes are a perfect fit for these unique learners.
Students typically log in to their class through an online portal. They can view the course requirements, study the curriculum and prepare for exams. Students can choose a time and place that suits their needs. They may be working around a job or simply function better late at night or early in the morning.
Additionally, students learn valuable skills like time management, schedule creation and deadline prioritization.
One of the biggest advantages for parents is the chance to guide their students through college classes while they're still at home. The college curriculum is challenging. It can be helpful for dual enrollment students to have a parent available to provide guidance and support.
Parents may also be surprised to learn that some vocation courses can be taken as dual enrollment classes. Students may not want to pursue a four-year degree, at least not right away. They can still get college credit for classes in computer programming, coding and medical technology.
Life Skills Training
Dual enrollment classes offer home school students a chance to learn life skills, too. For example, a successful online learner will need to develop a strong and genuine interest in education. The classes are often self-paced and self-selected. This is especially true if the student is satisfying General Education requirements.
Students will need to master technology if they haven't already done so. The courses are online, which means students will have to learn how to troubleshoot a variety of technical challenges that may arise. For example, will your student know what to do if he can't log into the portal successfully? What happens if the WiFi goes down?
Students will need to develop organizational skills to keep up with classes where there is very little supervision, outside what's provided at home. This is a great way for high school students to begin taking responsibility for their own course work and scheduling, before they leave home for college.
Parents may want to encourage their students to use a planner, either a paper one or an app on their phone. Electronic alerts and reminders can also be helpful for students who aren't used to keeping their own calendars.
Academic Reputation Building
Home school dual enrollment offers high school students the opportunity to establish a track record of high achievement in higher education.
This will be especially helpful when they apply for admission to a college or university. Admissions counselors will look at their high school record, but dual enrollment courses can set a student apart by demonstrating that she is capable of handling college courses.
It's not unusual for students in 12th grade to develop senioritis, a tendency to slack off during the senior year. This can present as excessive absences or a drop in grades. Students who are engaged in dual enrollment classes can't afford to catch the bug many of their classmates may contract. This high-level course work can be the antidote to slacking off before graduation.
Wrapping It Up
It's important for high school students and their parents to research their options for home school dual enrollment classes. Make sure the classes will be accepted by traditional colleges and universities. For example, Ed4Credit courses are recommended by ACE (American Council on Education) and over 2,000 colleges and universities accept ACE CREDIT® recommended courses.
Please contact us with any questions you have about dual enrollment courses and the best way to get started earning college credit.