When you and I went to high school (all those years ago), that’s exactly what we did—we went to high school. Period. College was something we might do “next” – after high school.

So, now, why is it such a big deal for high school kids to “merge” the two by earning college credits in many ways including on-campus classes, online courses, and CLEP exams?

Why is Dual Enrollment Such a Big Deal Lately?

Well, let’s start by asking a question.

Who thinks it’s such a big deal? Are public schools pushing this idea? Are parents pushing it?

Both high schools and colleges are putting a high priority on dual enrollment (DE). Together they are forming partnerships to not only encourage enrolled students to take college classes, but they are adjusting schedules, providing transportation, covering costs, and more, to make it easy for high school students to include college classes.

But what’s the point of all this?

Here are some of the benefits they cite:

– Increase in high school graduation rates
– Higher college GPAs
– Dual enrollment students earn more college credits than non dual enrollment students
– Increase in college graduation rates
– Dual enrollment smooths the transition from high school to college for students with average GPAs
– Dual enrollment helps students interested in technical fields to move smoothly into college

These are all great benefits, but maybe they don’t affect us as homeschooling families quite as much as they do public school families.

For instance, we don’t have a very high dropout rate, so dual enrollment isn’t necessarily going to help make sure our teens graduate from high school. And it probably wouldn’t affect too much whether our high school students actually complete their college degree. Yes, dual enrollment opportunities do affect that, but maybe not so much for OUR kids.

So what benefits are cited by advocates of dual enrollment that DO affect us as homeschooling families?

– Your child can get used to the academic environment before they leave the support of home
– Your child can take classes that aren’t offered in your homeschool or that you might not feel qualified to teach
– Your student could get a good feel for the career area that they are considering
– Your student can get a head start on earning college credits helping them to graduate on time or perhaps even early.

These last four benefits DO affect our kids and can have a real impact on their college experience!

As these benefits have come to light, many now advocate for dual enrollment classes being offered tuition-free, especially for low-income students. And that can be a real temptation for us to let our kids jump on the bandwagon and get some free college credits. Wouldn’t it be worth it?

What should we do?

We each have to evaluate our options and consider what is best for our own family and the amazing kids we are homeschooling.

Here are some questions to ask as you consider each option:

On-Campus Classes

How would on-campus classes fit into your school schedule?
Can your teens drive themselves to class?
Would it interfere with their other subjects for them to be gone often and have a “real” grade to focus on?
What do on-campus classes cost?
Is tuition reduced?
Is tuition waived?
What fees and expenses aren’t reduced or waived?
What do books cost?
Is on-campus insurance required?
Parking fee?
Technology fee?
Other fees?
Who would be my child’s teacher?
What’s their perspective?
Is my teen’s faith strong enough to stand the test?
Are they prepared for challenges – either from peers, curricula, or teachers?
How many college credits could they be expected to earn in their last two years of high school?

Online courses

How would an online course work for your student?
Do you have the technology needed?
What are the costs of taking an online course?
How many college credits could they earn in their last two years of high school?
A one-semester college class earns three credits, so could they possibly earn six college credits in a semester?


Could your student self-teach using a test prep book, a textbook, and online resources and earn college credit by taking an accredited exam at a college testing center to prove they’ve learned the subject?

Would your student be able to self-teach the material in a shorter time frame than a typical 16-week semester?

Would you like to choose the textbooks that your students use?

Choosing a Dual Enrollment Option for Your Teen

Your choices are going to be affected by the career choice and the college choice that your teen has made or is likely to make.

If your teen has chosen a field such as nursing, mechanical engineering, or veterinarian studies they are going to spend most of their college years in a traditional classroom, studying using traditional methods, and paying the traditional cost.

However, they may still fulfill some of their requirements using CLEP exams. Every college course they satisfy during high school is one less they have to have in their college schedule or tuition costs.

Help your teen determine which courses they can knock out now, while still in high school, so later they have a lighter course load and a lower tuition bill.

If however, they are planning to earn any of the degrees offered at Thomas Edison State University, Excelsior College, or Charter Oak State College, or a Master of library science, a teaching certification, a law degree, or others then they can consider the credit-by-exam approach as their primary way to earn their degree.

The credit-by-exam approach to earning college credits can be pursued at home and at your student’s own pace. They can earn credits as quickly as they are able to learn!

This has proven to be the most effective method to accelerate degree completion. It’s also the method that best helps students reach college graduation without any student loan debt.

Grab a pencil and some paper and do some quick research. Talk with your teen about their goals for a career, for college, and regarding debt.

See if perhaps a non-traditional approach to college may be just the path they’d like to take!

Then, join me for my free online workshop, 8 Steps for Earning a Bachelor’s Degree during High School. I’ll show you how the credit-by-exam approach has worked for my kids and help you get started on your family’s dual credit adventure!

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