Dual Diplomas at Home: How I Just Graduated From College at 17

As a quick intro to the program I have been following, I’ve been enrolled in Dual Credit at Home, a program that has helped me take college level courses and examinations that award me college credits that count both towards my high school AND college credit requirements! This has allowed me to complete my high school and college education at the same time.

Well, friends, after four years of study, I have just completed my college’s last requirement in my bachelor’s degree plan! And the craziest thing is this: I haven’t graduated from high school yet!

Dual Diplomas at Home: How I Just Graduated From College at 17

I am so excited that I’m finally done. I felt like this day would never come, but looking back, I am so thankful for all of the things I have learned and accomplished by completing my degree before I finished high school.

You may be thinking, “I could never do that!” Let me tell you, I can’t say I really thought I could either! But through a lot of prayer, encouragement from my awesome parents and a bunch of hard work, I made it. And I know you can too!

I’m going to summarize my journey to getting a college degree at 17, so that you can get a sneak peek into my journey, and see how you can also accomplish such an educational milestone before you graduate high school!

How it All Started

I always wanted to graduate college early. I had seen my older siblings do it, and I knew that I wanted to take that route as well!

My mom (Becky) definitely did not make me enroll in Dual Credit at Home, but she always gave me the option to. And so, at the age of 12, I decided to jump right in and start earning college credit. The first dual credit class I took was Analyzing and Interpreting Literature. The “class” part consisted of my hours of study here at home, and that’s how I earned the high school credits. Then I took and passed the A&I Literature CLEP exam, the “dual” part, and while it was difficult, I felt so awesome when I passed the test!

Over time I took some classes at Lee College, our local community college. I picked super interesting (and slightly easy) courses. My favorite was a class called “The Healthy American,” but I also enjoyed the “Coaching Sports and Athletics” class.

The second class was pretty fun because it was full of SUPER tall basketball players! One of the players found out that I was only 13, and was stunned by the fact that I was just like his little sister at home. It was definitely a new experience for me, since I was coming from being in a completely home school environment!

What Life Looked Like

For the last four years, I’ve been doing college work in many different forms. I’ve taken dual enrollment classes at the community college, and I’ve taken two online classes. But primarily, I’ve been studying subjects at home and taking three different kinds of accredited, college-level exams: College Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests, DSST (Dantes) tests, and Excelsior exams.

All of these courses also counted (hence the “dual credit”) towards my high school education. Thanks to these classes and exams, I now have a nearly completed high school diploma and a bachelor’s degree from Charter Oak State College!

During some of my semesters dual enrolling at Lee College, I had early classes and my Pepa (grandpa) would take me to school. I would get up at about 6:00 am (not super early, but it was still dark out so it felt early to me!) and go have breakfast at McDonald’s. Then, Pepa would take me to school. We did this every Monday for two semesters.

Since Mama wanted all my classes to be on the same days, I always had a rotation. I could do class on say, Monday/Wednesday, and so on Tuesday/Thursday I would study for those classes and do any schoolwork I had at home.

Even though I was busy attending class and doing homework, I had tons of time left for my passions. I was able to train in jiu jitsu for many hours a day, several days a week. I had time to sew several quilts for the fairs I would show in. This last semester, I was able to compete in track and field, as well as jiujitsu. Also, I have had great opportunities to spend my time with kids (seriously, kids are my favorite!) and pour into the next generation through Bible clubs and other meaningful activities.

Challenges I Faced:

I’ll just tell you, getting my degree by 17 was not easy!

There were some days where I was overwhelmed or didn’t feel like the work would ever end. Although I have now experienced the success of this journey, I did face some trials along the way, primarily in the form of learning how to persevere through failure.

Of all the classes and tests I have taken, I have only failed two. I was around 13 when I took US History II and I failed. About a year later I took it again. And I failed again. At that point, we realized that particular exam was not part of my (current) degree plan!

I didn’t fail a test again until I decided to take the GRE Subject Test in Literature. That one was way over my head, and I failed it too. Around that time (about 2 years after the last test fail) I realized that I would need US History II. So, I decided to study smarter. I studied less the way I wanted to study, and more the way Mama had been telling me to study! Thankfully this paid off, and I passed the test! It took three tries, but I did it!

For the record, I’m perfectly fine with leaving that GRE to those going for their master’s in literature. Kudos to y’all.

What I Have Gained:

Throughout these past four years, there have been a couple times where I would stop and think “What if…?” I pictured public schoolers in high school; they had all these classes and everything they did was on a schedule they were given at the beginning of the semester. Their lives looked super easy! I mean, they got to hang with friends every day! I fought being envious.

But then, I would look at my life. I had time for everything I loved to do, and I was on a path that allowed me to get where I wanted to go so much faster and for much less money! So, I would then reflect on how extremely grateful I was not only for the fact that I was able to earn dual credit, but for the fact that I was homeschooled.

And Now, It’s On to the Future!

I’m a little scared about all the changes that are going start taking place now that I have my bachelor’s. I’ll be getting a job this fall and am starting to transition into (*drumroll*) the joys of adulthood! But I know that no matter what challenges I face, God will help me overcome them like He helped me achieve this educational milestone.

I have loved the opportunities DCAH has given me to not only earn my degree during high school, but to do so while being able to participate in awesome extracurricular activities and work and minister in areas that I am passionate about.

I hope that my story will show you that you can also achieve your goals in record time, and use your education and hard-working attitude to make a difference in our world!

To learn more about the Dual Credit at Home program and how you can get started knocking out your college degree while in high school, click here!


My name is Julie, and I'm sharing my Dual Credit at Home journey with you! I’m 17 years old, and I’m the seventh child in my family of 10. I’ve always been home schooled, and my schooling has included high school subjects (usually followed by the corresponding college-level exam) along with some classes at the junior college. I'll be graduating in May, 2016 from high school at home along with receiving my bachelor's degree with a history major from Charter Oak State College (as long as I study hard!)