Are you considering registering your homeschool student for a Dual Credit (Dual Enrollment) class? Dual Credits are an amazing opportunity for many, but before you sign up your student, make sure you understand everything involved with a Dual Credit because they are not right for every student.
Dual Credits allow a student to take a college-level class and receive a college credit AND a high school credit. In SC, Dual Credits count more in a student’s GPA (Grade Point Average) and can be a great way to bump up the high school GPA for college admissions and scholarships. Parents are excited to save money with discounted tuition, and students get to dip their toes into the college experience and begin preparing for their upcoming college adventure. Dual Credits allow some homeschool students to graduate from high school with an associate’s degree, and others start college as a second-semester freshman or even a sophomore.
However, Dual Credits are not a wise choice for all students. At a recent homeschool convention, I spoke with a college Dual Credit advisor, and he said that while Dual Credits can offer savings and a jump start on college, he actually did not recommend them personally. In his experience, many students really aren’t ready to take college courses in high school and the courses often add unnecessary stress for students who should be enjoying being kids as long as they can. If the student does not score well in the class, it could bring down the student’s future college GPA or risk a student’s chances at future scholarships.
In SC, students can actually hurt their chances of receiving the Life Scholarship in their sophomore year in college if they do not do well in a Dual Credit course taken in high school. Even though they may qualify for the Life Scholarship their freshman year because the Dual Credit gets an extra point on the high school GPA, a student may not be able to average out to that B average (3.0 GPA to continue to qualify for the Life Scholarship) once that Dual Credit class is applied in the college GPA. For example, a C gets the GPA points of a B, a D gets the GPA points of a C in the high school GPA, but for college, that C is a C. That D is a D. For this reason if your student chooses to take a Dual Credit class, make sure he is ready for the challenge.
Students should be motivated and able to work on their own and have good study skills. Remember, this is a college class and is not something the parent will have access to. The student should be able to communicate with the professor on his own and be responsible enough to keep up with and meet deadlines. Students should be able to communicate well both in writing and language because many college classes rely heavily on writing essays. Most importantly, the student should be mature enough to handle a college setting.
Most colleges have a page on their website devoted to Dual Credits, so it is a good idea to explore the college’s site to get the most accurate information since colleges will all have their own policy. Usually, the classes are reserved for students who are juniors or seniors, although some colleges offer Dual Credits to sophomores. Some colleges are looking for a certain GPA and some want an SAT/ACT score. There is typically a Dual Enrollment form to be signed, often by your association, and the college will want a high school transcript.
Before you decide, make sure you weigh the pros and cons of dual credits.
Pros and Cons of Dual Credit classes
- Headstart in college.
- Can save money on college – some colleges offer discounted tuition for Dual Credit and some offer free Dual Credits.
- Get a feel for college courses and help with a student’s transition to college.
- A semester course at a college = 1 credit for high school.
- The homeschool parent gets a break from teaching or can have the student take a subject they don’t feel comfortable teaching, like biology with lab or higher maths.
- Some colleges, like Bob Jones University, offer a free Dual Credit class, and others, like some tech schools, offer free Dual Credits if you meet certain criteria.
- Your child may not be ready for a Dual Credit course, and it could cause stress and anxiety.
- The college may be teaching a world view that clashes with your family’s beliefs.
- The grade becomes part of the Life Scholarship GPA and can affect a student’s eligibility for the Life Scholarship in his sophomore year of college. (This is only a con if the student does not score well in the Dual Credit class.)
- For some scholarships, a student must have a minimum of 15 hours per semester. If you take too many Dual Credits, you may end up with a semester in college where you do not have enough classes to take to be full time, or you have to add a class to keep the student full time.
So, Are Dual Credits right for your family? Only you will know. I have seen students spending their senior year, the last year as a child in their home, in tears and stressed by Dual Credit classes. The pressure, deadlines, and assignments were too much for them. Yet, I have also seen students excel in dual credits, love their experience, and start college with fewer classes take.
Make sure you consider your student’s maturity and academic ability before signing him up because Dual Credits are a big step!