Thursday, January 10, 2019

Homeschooling the Teen Years - College Dual Enrollment

If you are homeschooling high schoolers, be sure to check out what kind of dual enrollment programs are available through the colleges or universities in your state.  The programs vary from state to state, but it's worth checking out.
The Montana University System encourages students to give college a try while they are still in high school.  Tuition is half the price for the same classes and credits they'd be getting as college freshmen or sophomores, they even get their first two classes for free, and homeschoolers are welcome.

Drawing by E (age 14)
We were a little slow to figure out the whole dual enrollment thing.  When I was in high school you had to have all of your high school credits completed, and be an exceptional student to take college classes before you graduated.  T (our oldest) while being college bound, and now performing well in his second year at a private university working on a bachelors in business, was not what I would call an exceptional student in high school - adequate, but not overly academically inclined.

When we ran into a college recruiter at a farmer's market touting the dual enrollment program, T gave the table a wide berth, and I didn't think much of it, except to step over and accept a free pen.

G (our second oldest) had marriage on the brain by her junior year, though we managed to stall the actual event until after she had graduated high school, and given college at least a perfunctory try. Not that you can't attend college while married (I certainly did), and not that dual enrollment wouldn't be right for the marriage minded (actually it be even better, because it can cut up to two years off of the time spent after high school in college), it just simply wasn't her thing.

Drawing by E (age 14)

A (age 17), however, has jumped in with both feet.  She's in her 5th semester now (counting one part-time summer semester between her junior and senior years), and has just started the last block of classes she will need to earn an associates degree, which she ought to receive about one week after she graduates from high school.

She's aimed at a transfer degree, that will transfer into a bachelors program at the state university in one complete block.  If she follows through with that, she will knock two years off of her time there.

And, should she decide to switch majors, or pick a university with slightly different requirements, she has still completed all of her core classes (college writing, math, speech, science, history and the like), and will have paid considerably less for her time of exploration and discovery than she would if she switched a major after two years of full on university tuition.

Drawing by E (age 14)
I was worried at first, that she might struggle to keep up with actual college students.  She was only sixteen and a high school junior when she started.  But, it's turned out to be an extremely positive experience for her.  Her success has encouraged her younger siblings, who are all already making plans to follow suit.

At the end of the day, as a parent and homeschool educator, I have a few reservations about rushing kids out of high school and into college, which is essentially what is happening - but it is happening across the country, regardless of my thoughts, through dual enrollment programs, AP classes and their ilk, and I'm not sure I want my children to be left behind their public school peers.  I also have a hard time arguing with half price (or better, depending on your state) college tuition.  So, for now I'm taking their word for it that...

 "Statistically, students who take dual enrollment courses are more likely to successfully transition to higher education, and succeed academically at rates higher than students who do not take dual enrollment courses." (Reach Higher Montana).

It's great to be a (dual-enrolled) homeschooler.


MaryAnne said...

I like the idea of exploring majors this way without using up undergrad years. I think I would have picked a completely different path if I could have explored first this way. There were so many options I just wasn't aware of!

slim pickins said...

They do that here where we are, but my kid isn't interested enough to really push for the math needed for the ACT. We've done mostly interest led learning and now I'm feeling some regrets about that, since it means she is excellent in writing, on fire about Spanish, but "deficient" in math with gaps in science. The ACT feels like a huge insurmountable block! I'm new to your blog so I'm not sure yet what your school life looks like, but you struck a chord here!

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Slim Pickins - I'm not sure how it works in your area, but don't give up! Our dual enrollment program only requires the a college placement exam (much easier than the ACT) that can be taken again and again - and if a student doesn't make the grade in certain subjects (such as math) they can take pre-courses to qualify (math at the simpler levels, that don't count for college credit, but when completed count as the prerequisite needed to get into the college level courses). If they are going to do that anyway, better to do it at the less expensive, dual-enrollment level. And in the meantime they can knock off college writing, history, speech, and the other courses that don't require any math skills.

Ticia said...

Our local junior college allows homeschoolers to dual enroll and they can take a certain amount of classes free per semester, so I'm definitely looking into it for my kids in a year or two.

Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

Our community colleges allow dual enrollment starting in 10th grade, and it's free for public school kids. A is already talking about potentially taking a couple of classes when she is a junior and a senior - her current headmaster said that they could support that on their side.