This article appeared in slightly different form in the online magazine Mindful Homeschooler:
What is dual-enrollment? Basically, high school students take one or more college classes a semester, receiving both high school and college credit. It’s not uncommon for kids in public school to do this, but homeschoolers can too. I’m a sophomore and this is my second semester of college Spanish. My brother is a grade younger and in his second semester of college math. Here’s an explanation of how to get into college while still in high school, plus some thoughts on the experience.
Depending on the college, you may have to take the SAT. Some colleges will have their own placement test, so you’ll take that instead; it seems like smaller schools will have that. My brother and I have to take the SAT. I’m not going to say much about it here because I want to focus on dual-credit stuff, but I honestly don’t think it’s that hard, even if you’re in eighth or ninth grade as my brother and I were.
My brother also needed to take a math placement test. I didn’t need to take any special test for Spanish, but a few months ago I took a writing placement test in order to attend a writing class this summer. The next step is to fill out the enrollment forms to be a dual-credit student.
Congratulations, you’re in college! Now what? Go to class, obviously. Participate in class by asking questions, volunteering answers, etc. If you’re confused, ask your teacher for help, get tutoring, whatever. You don’t want to wait too long so that you’re far behind because then you’ll have loads to catch up on. DO NOT PROCRASTINATE ON YOUR HOMEWORK. All this stuff is common sense, really.
Speaking of homework, a lot of yours may be online. Except for two compositions, all of my homework for Spanish 101 was online. We had to buy a code along with my textbook so that I could register for the online part of the course. It’s just like paper homework, but now you type in your answers. But every teacher is different – my Spanish 102 teacher assigns some online homework but prefers to have us print out homework that she posts on a part of the college website. Finally, I’ve realized that it’s easier to forget about homework when it’s online, perhaps because it’s not physically there, sitting in your backpack. So don’t.
And speaking of every teacher being different – for homeschoolers, the scariest part of attending college is probably not finding our way to class or something else, but wondering what our teacher will be like. Kids in school probably worry too, but I’d guess not as much because they change teachers every year and are used to it. Up until now, we might have only been taught by our parents and might wonder if it will be hard to adjust to someone else. I wouldn’t worry about it. They wouldn’t be there if they weren’t halfway decent. I have heard other students complaining about other teachers, but there’s usually tutoring and in my case, a foreign language lab if you need help. If you detest your teacher so much you aren’t learning anything, you could probably transfer to another class.
Attending college while still in high school has been fun! I think my favorite part has been seeing that I could get an A in an introductory college class even though I am only a sophomore. (Most dual-credit students are juniors or seniors.) It was a wonderful feeling to know that I was capable of that. It’s also cool to be taught by someone else (and to mentally compare my teachers to Hogwarts professors because I’m nerdy that way). I love improving my Spanish and like that I can better communicate with my Spanish friend/penpal. The only thing I sometimes don’t like about college is having classes in the middle of the day because for some reason it can be hard to get back . But then I don’t want to be in a morning class because I don’t like getting up early!
Whether you’re a parent or student, I hope I’ve made you consider dual-enrollment as an option for homeschooling high school and answered any questions you have about it!