Many homeschooled students take dual enrollment classes, earning both college credit and high school credit at the same time. This is a great option assuming your students can handle college level classes, keep up with assignments, and pass the class. However, in addition to student readiness, there are additional facts to consider before proceeding.
In some states dual enrollment classes are offered tuition free so parents may be tempted to have their students enroll in college classes whether the students are ready for college level classes, or not. Since the classes are free they assume they have nothing to lose. However, that is not the case. If a student fails to pass a class with a certain GPA there will be negative consequences. Many of the states that offer free, or reduced, dual enrollment classes often have stipulations that have to be met in order to continue receiving free (or reduced tuition) classes. These grants are lost if a student does not earn a high enough GPA in the class and, in some states, there is no way to regain the dual enrollment grant. If a student takes a class and does poorly, then losing the opportunity to continue taking college classes during high school for free (or at a discounted price) could be a costly mistake. Not only does the student lose the grant, but the parent could then become responsible to pay for the failed class out-of-pocket.
Also, be aware that your students’ college record will follow them whether they pass the class, or not. The college GPA might, or might not, follow your student depending on whether they go on to attend the college where they took the dual enrollment classes. In most cases, if your student takes dual enrolled classes at a certain college and then goes on to attend that same college after high school, the GPA will follow the student. On the other hand, if your student takes dual enrollment classes at a college different from the college they end up attending, the credits may transfer, but the GPA may not (wiping the GPA slate clean). When students earn college credit, but receive low grades, not having the GPA transfer would be beneficial, but for the students who receive high grades, having a GPA that does not transfer would be a disadvantage. Regardless of whether the GPA transfers, or not, the college record of a failed class will be included in your students’ record unless the student retakes the class and passes it.
Academic scholarships for freshmen are often determined by the students’ GPA and earned test scores (ACT, SAT and/or CLT). High school students who have a high GPA prior to taking DE classes could lower their GPA if they perform poorly in college classes. If a GPA is lowered to the degree that scholarships are reduced (or lost), then the “free” classes were not free after all.
When students sign up for dual enrollment classes the college will treat them as an adult and you will, more than likely, not be notified in any way of your child’s progress. Students can sign a FERPA release so that you can be notified if there are concerns, but colleges will not be in contact with parents otherwise. And, even with a signed FERPA on hand, the school may not initiate any communication with the parent. You and your students should have an understanding, beforehand, so that you are not caught unaware of poor performance.
As stated above, many of the states that offer free, or reduced, dual enrollment classes often have stipulations that have to be met in order to continue receiving free (or reduced tuition) classes. Be sure you weigh the advantages and know whether your student is ready for college classes or not. Stay on top of the situation so that you are not surprised by a failing grade when it’s too late to do anything about it. The advantages of taking dual enrollment classes are huge for the students who pass the classes, but costly for those who do not pass the classes.
Because I homeschooled my students for 32+ years I have many friends who finished their homeschooling adventure long before I finally finished. One of the often heard regrets has to do with allowing high school students to attend college classes on a secular campus. The environment that students will be exposed to on a secular campus will be far different than the environment of a Christian campus. Yes, I am well aware that there are students on Christian campuses who do not live Christ-like lives but, hopefully, that will not be the norm. Not only should you be careful about the curriculum used on secular campuses (especially the literature assigned), but the worldview of the instructor could make a huge impact on your student, especially if he or she is an atheist with a pronounced agenda to debunk Christianity. Parents should not be sheltering their students 24/7, but they do need to be careful about putting students in certain situations before they are mature enough to handle those situations. Taking online courses may be preferable to on-campus classes, but if the courses are taught at a secular campus, then the material might conflict with your beliefs (depending on the class). Most homeschooling families have been so careful about making wise academic choices that it is surprising at how quickly many enroll their students in secular classes simply because of financial considerations. Please do not think that I am saying a parent should never allow students to take classes at a secular institution. Several of my children took both dual enrollment classes at secular campuses and two earned degrees from secular campuses. This is not a black-and-white, always do this or never do that conversation. You know your child better than anyone so prepare, plan, and pray that you will have the ability to steer your students on a course that is best for their future.
I put together a short video presentation on dual enrollment here.
If you would like to talk more about dual enrollment, in general, or about dual enrollment at Bryan College specifically, set up an appointment via email! firstname.lastname@example.org