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Sunday, February 9, 2014

College Crash Course Part 8: Dual Enrollment- Ready or Not?


When a high school student takes college courses while in high school, it’s called dual enrollment. Dual enrollment courses count for both high school and college credit. 

Although colleges prefer AP courses, dual enrollment is often a better option for homeschoolers. Not only is community college more readily available, it shows colleges that your homeschooled child is capable of managing a college class. 

Dual enrollment puts your child’s transcript through the rigor test that colleges use to evaluate the difficulty of high school work. It beefs up the high school transcript and lends credibility to your child’s homeschool GPA. 

Dual enrollment also gives your child a head start on college graduation by giving him actual college credits. But keep in mind, he is also entering college with a college GPA. 

Online Dual Enrollment
My daughter took all her dual enrollment courses online through Liberty University. She watched lectures on video, interacted with classmates on a forum, took timed tests, wrote papers, and filmed speeches that she uploaded. All four courses she took were accepted for credit at the University of Georgia. Because she made A’s in her dual enrollment courses at Liberty, she entered college with a 4.0.

Private online colleges are a more expensive option than community college courses. However, it worked better for my daughter to pursue the online option because she needed the flexibility that accommodated her ballet schedule. The environment at Liberty also nurtured and supported her Christian beliefs. 

Community College Dual Enrollment
Taking courses at a local community college can be a good way to transition from homeschool to college. Your child will learn how to navigate college life—ordering books, handling registration, and utilizing professor hours and tutoring services—while living at home. 

Your child might also have an opportunity to join groups and organizations in his area of interest. For example, one homeschooler joined the newspaper staff, enabling her to gain experience and polish her resume. 

However there are some cautions to consider, and the most important one may surprise you: 

If your child is strong in a particular area of interest, it is wise not to have him take that course for dual enrollment. Why? Because you want your child to enter his four year college taking the freshmen level courses in his area of interest. Not only will the subject be taught differently at a four year college, you want your child to stand out to professors in his area of interest. If your child completes entry level courses at a junior college, he may end up as an 18 year old in a classroom with 20 year olds. Even if your child is strong in the subject, he will be at a disadvantage and his great aptitude will be overlooked. This would be a disservice to your child.

Think of it this way: If your child wants to be a biologist and takes Biology 101 at a junior college, then enters a four year college and takes Biology 201, he might not be adequately prepared. He will seem like a struggling student rather than the bright stellar student he really is. 

It’s best to get those courses he doesn’t love out of the way by dual enrolling. That way, when he gets to college, he can focus on the courses he does love.

Here are some other cautions to consider when deciding whether or not to dual enroll:

·    If your child does not do well, it becomes part of his permanent college record and will affect his ability to get into a four year college. 
·    Most major universities are particular about which credits they accept from community colleges. The courses must match their course descriptions and be considered rigorous. Thus, your child’s credits may not transfer. 
·    Some college professors have no qualms about discussing casual sex, drugs, and alcohol in a positive way. 
·    Some college professors are adamantly against anything that resembles religion. Your student might have to exercise caution when expressing his opinion in both class and in writing assignments. One student was chastised by her professor because she had a Scripture in the tagline of her email.
·    Some fellow students may exhibit behavior and vocabulary that are offensive. 

Ready or Not?
So is your child ready for dual enrollment? Spend some time in prayer, talk it over with your child, and decide the best course to take. Most colleges require students to have taken the SAT or ACT to dual enroll. So if you intend to dual enroll in 11th grade, be sure to take one or both of these tests well in advance. Some states, like Georgia, will pay some of the expenses incurred when your student dual enrolls. Most community colleges and universities have their dual enrollment guidelines online. If you have any questions, call the admissions office. They’ll be happy to talk to you about their dual enrollment program. 

Whether or not they dual enroll, remember, God has a great plan for your child’s future. If you do not feel led to begin college early, that’s because it isn’t the right course for your child. 

Many, LORD my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. Psalm 40:5


5 comments:

Shan Walker said...

Great post! We are in Georgia as well.

Did your daughter use the College Prep or College Plus ( I get those confused) under Liberty University.

We are interested in that and I believe my daughter could begin those online without going to the local junior college but rather all online???

blessings,
Shan

Jeannie Fulbright said...

Hi Shan,

Liberty didn't have it set up like that when my daughter took her classes. I am not sure what the difference is now. I would just make sure the course she takes can also be used for college credit. Go to the UGA website and make sure that specific course title transfers.

If you call Liberty, they are very accommodating.

Warmly,
Jeannie

EEEEMommy said...

I have questions regarding what you wrote about entering college with a GPA. I actually spoke with another mom whose children had done dual enrollment, and she actually said the opposite. Her kids entered college with credit but no grade point average. The GPA did not transfer. In fact, it was a huge surprise to her because no one had ever mentioned this as a possibility and she lists it as a disadvantage to dual enrollment. The disadvantage is that her children's credits were accepted, but the GPA was not, so basically all those easy A classes weren't able to help out the upper level classes they were taking. Their GPA started with 0 and they jumped into more challenging classes. I asked a rep from the local community college, and he confirmed that the credits may (or may not, depending on the school) transfer, but the grades typically do not. The same thing occurs when transferring from one college to another. (My friend also had this happen when her son transferred from a Christian college to a state nursing program. The credits transferred, but he started out from scratch in a very competitive nursing program where you have to maintain a specific grade point average. He has had to do this without the benefit of those earlier, easier class grades.)
All of this has made me reconsider dual enrollment altogether. It could potentially be a huge disadvantage to the student.

Natalie said...

I think the GPA carrying over must vary school to school. My daughter dual enrolled at a 4-year college and then enrolled at that school as a regular student. Her GPA from dual enrollment courses did count toward her overall GPA. The only course not counted in her GPA was a foreign language because the school didn't accept Rosetta Stone as enough of a foreign language credit so she entered with a deficiency. She had to take an extra foreign language and the first class didn't count toward her GPA or towards HOPE or as credits earned toward graduation. Ironically, my son suffered the same foreign language fate, but when he transferred to a private university, they credited that first foreign language toward his degree. The lesson I've learned is to ask questions and ask them to multiple people. The first person you talk to may not actually know the truth and just tries to bluff their way through the conversation. If you suspect that is happening....go higher up the chain of command.

Jeannie Fulbright said...

I think Natalie is right. It probably varies from school to school. When I was in college at the University of Texas, I took some courses at a junior college during the summer. The credit transferred, but the grade did not play into my GPA. I assumed that would be the way it was for my daughter at UGA. However, much to her delight, her Liberty GPA did transfer. Definitely ask the school your child wants to attend. Every school has different policies.