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Dual Enrollment Options to Best Suit Your Teen

Carol Becker

Diane Kummer
Diane Kummer

Upcoming Speaking Engagements

January 23, 2016: Home Educators at Grove—Richmond, VA (Diane)

February 27, 2016: Tuscaloosa Home Educators—Tuscaloosa, AL (Diane)

April 1-2, 2016: Nebraska Christian Home Educators Association (NCHEA)—Lincoln, NE (Diane)

May 21, 2016: Christian Home Educators of West Virginia (CHEWV)—Getting Started High School Workshops—WV (Carol)

July 15-16, 2016: Arizona Families for Home Education (AFHE) Convention—Phoenix, AZ (Carol)

Not able to attend one of Carol or Diane’s high school events? Purchase a recording of HSLDA’s High School at Home: Turning Possibility into Reality event and watch sessions on developing a high school plan, creating transcripts, charting a course for post-high school plans, and receiving encouragement for the high school years!

“Both of HSLDA’s high school consultants homeschooled their children from kindergarten through the 12th grade.” Learn more >>
Dear Friends, January 7, 2016

Happy New Year! We hope you take time to reflect on the many blessings of the first half of the school year and recognize the hard work your teens have completed. You have much to look forward to in the second semester as you kick off a brand new year! The four years of high school fly by so quickly. We want you to know about some tried and true options to help you prepare your teens to step out into the big world after high school graduation.

Whether your teen is heading off to college, raring to enter the workforce, or considering military enlistment, dual enrollment courses have a lot to offer because homeschool teens can take college or career prep courses while still in high school. Some states refer to dual enrollment as Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO); other states use the term concurrent enrollment. While some states offer a limited number of PSEO courses for free or reduced tuition to homeschooling families, most do not. When you understand the advantages of dual enrollment, this will help you decide whether this option is worth the price.

Most students take dual enrollment courses at a local community college, but you will also find dual enrollment providers online. Several four-year colleges that offer online dual enrollment courses include Belhaven University, Bryan College, Liberty University, Regent University (provides a PERX discount to HSLDA members), and Taylor University to name a few.

Dual enrollment opportunities at private four-year colleges and public four-year colleges tend to cater to college-bound students only. For career training, students will find the greatest diversity of degree and certification options at a local community college (also known as a junior college). Through dual enrollment, students receive either college-degree credit or certification credit while simultaneously earning high school credit—a great two-for-one bonus! Let’s go over the benefits of dual enrollment and explain some of the exciting options for both career and college-bound teens.

Benefits of Dual Enrollment

Dual enrollment offers both challenging college-prep courses and interesting career-enhancement courses. It also provides an alternative means of instruction for parents who—for whatever reason—prefer not to be the primary teacher in certain high school subjects. Each one-semester college course of 3-5 credits equals a one-year high school course for most subjects. A college-bound student could take Spanish 1 in the fall semester and Spanish 2 in the spring semester and earn two full years of high school Spanish in one academic year. A career-minded student could take an interior design course in the fall and a bookkeeping course in the spring to take advantage of job opportunities that require these skills. Tailoring courses to suit your teen’s post-graduate goals is a worthwhile benefit of partnering with a community college.

To succeed in dual enrollment courses, parents need to assess their teen’s study skills. We recommend using 9th and 10th grades to systematically work on selected study skills. Begin to set weekly deadlines to help your teen develop time management skills because these important life skills benefit both college freshmen and new employees. We propose that when your teen begins dual enrollment (typically in 11th or 12th grade), he registers for only one course to see how he handles the pressure and level of coursework. Consider one of the eight-week college summer school sessions after the rest of his courses have already been completed. Minimize other distractions such as part-time work and extracurricular activities to help your teen focus and have the time necessary to succeed.

Network with other homeschooling families for recommendations on dual enrollment courses and instructors. Because teens live at home while they attend community college, you can help your teen think through the logical repercussions of differing worldviews presented in classes. Your teen will learn to work under teachers with different grading philosophies and work standards. To learn all of this under your tutelage is invaluable. Dual enrollment grades are objective indicators of your teen’s academic ability, and they lend credibility to other course grades shown on the high school transcript.

Begin the dual enrollment process by visiting the academic advisory department at a local community college to find out what documentation the college requires for course registration. Each institution sets its own policies for admitting high school students, and this may include a minimum age (usually 16 years) and documentation (often a high school transcript).

Usually, teens do not need to take either of the college entrance exams (SAT or ACT) to enroll in a community college. But most colleges will require that your student take English and math placement exams to determine the appropriate course level commensurate with your teen’s grammar, writing, and math skills. Many community colleges offer a free, untimed placement test (usually the Accuplacer or COMPASS test) at an on-site testing center. A low English test score can delay dual enrollment until after a re-test date predetermined by the college. Sometimes students can only take the English placement test once per year. College-bound teens should be aware that remedial math courses taken at a community college (such as Algebra I, II and Geometry) will count towards high school credit, but these remedial courses will not count toward satisfying college degree requirements.

To fully grasp the opportunities that dual enrollment provides high-school teens, below are the various degrees and certifications that community colleges offer; this will help you decide which option best suits your teen.

Certifications and Applied Degree Options

Community colleges offer certifications and applied degrees for students interested in acquiring training for specific types of jobs. Certifications focus on a particular job or aspect of a job, and they take the least amount of time to complete. The next level is applied degrees which include the Applied Associate for Arts (A.A.A) and the Applied Associate for Science (A.A.S.). The A.A.A. primarily prepares students to work in the fields of photography, music, and fine arts. The A.A.S. has the widest application of disciplines: American Sign Language, automotive technology, bookkeeping, computer skills, construction management, contract management, criminal justice, cyber security, dental hygiene, early childhood development, emergency medical services, health information management, information technology, interior design, lab technology, marketing, medical imaging, nursing assistant, paralegal, public relations, and web design. There are many options within each discipline.

To understand how a certification and A.A.S. can work together, consider a teen interested in working in the automotive industry. By completing a certification in automotive brakes, your teen can begin working in an automotive repair shop, and over time, he can complete an A.A.S. in automotive technology to maximize his employment opportunities. Usually certification courses and applied degree courses do not transfer to a four-year destination college.

General Education Degree Options

Community colleges offer general education courses and degrees for students interested in transferring to a four-year destination college. General education includes a set number of credits in the various disciplines of the liberal arts and sciences. Community colleges offer an Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree, which has been designed to complete the general education requirements toward a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree in the liberal arts fields of English, history, art, music, philosophy, government, foreign languages, and so on. An A.A. degree offers the most flexibility if a teen is undecided about a specific destination college or a specific major. An Associate of Science (A.S.) degree is designed for students to complete the general education requirements toward a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in the fields of accounting, business, science, technology, engineering, math, and others.

We strongly recommend that all college-bound teens investigate the dual enrollment transfer policies of prospective destination colleges because these institutions always have the final say on acceptance of transfer credits. Some selective colleges do not accept any credit transfers. Others only accept transfer credits if the college offers an equivalent course. This can cause problems if a teen takes dual enrollment Bible courses at a private Christian college but the student plans to transfer to a secular destination college. Most colleges list transfer policies on their websites, so reference this information before selecting dual enrollment courses. It pays to know the transfer policy before you invest money.


Be sure to keep records of the college courses or certification courses your teen completes and include course title, instructor, institution, web address, course description (see course catalog), and the scope and sequence (course syllabus usually given on the first day of class). Add these course titles to your teen’s official high school transcript along with the final grades earned. Cross-reference dual enrollment courses with providers on the transcript. Community college grades do not earn extra quality points when you calculate the GPA. If the community college states that a course is an honors course, then you can assess a 0.5 quality point for a weighted GPA. As mentioned earlier, each one-semester college course of 3-5 credits equals a one-year high school course for most academic subjects. For 1-2 college credit courses, this recent newsletter gives more information on how to determine the equivalent high school credit.

When your teen is ready, dual enrollment through a community college offers an effective method for students to begin college courses early, concentrate on career training opportunities, or compensate for lost time during the high school years. If your teen is up to the challenge of a taking a college-level course, we encourage you to investigate this option in your area.

Join us next month as we delve into recordkeeping during the high school years.

Let’s give a cheer for dear Auld Lang Syne!

Carol Becker and Diane Kummer
HSLDA High School Consultants