My oldest is graduating from high school in just a couple months, and no, he’s not receiving a bachelor’s degree at the same time. He isn’t transferring credits as a high school freshman, and he’s not accelerating his studies. He’s just graduating as a normal (don’t laugh) homeschool student with a mixture of regular and honors courses and a normal amount of high school credits.
According to my facebook feed, that should make me a complete failure as a homeschool mom. Why didn’t he take dual credit and CLEP and community college and Oxford prep? For Pete’s sakes, how do I expect him to get into college? What have we been doing for the last four years, anyway?
When my students were younger, I was so enamored with the idea of dual-credit. After all, as a homeschool student myself, I had worked hard to complete four full years of high school material in three. If college work had been available to me, I know I would have jumped at the chance.
But my own students are much different than I was. They are interested, but not driven. They are college-bound, but they have narrowed down their prospective schools. They enjoy most of their subjects, but they have other interests.
So it turns out that dual credit courses, while a good choice for many students, were not a good fit for my oldest. My daughter is a high school freshman, and it looks as though dual credit probably won’t be in her future, either. And I am perfectly fine with that.
With the aggressive marketing for CLEP programs and dual credit, are homeschool teens missing out if they opt out? How do we know if dual credit is right for our students? Here are some principles that helped us make the decision for our family.
Is Dual Credit Right for Your Teen?
1. Do dual credit classes fit your homeschool style?
As classical homeschoolers, our family enjoys learning together across all age levels using a combination of good books, lively discussions, and out-of-the-house experiences. Enrolling in dual credit classes, particularly for humanities subjects, would detract from that experience.
If you are a traditional or textbook educator, and if your student uses a lot of co-op classes and video classes to make up their education, then dual credit may fit your student better. You are already accustomed to supervising his education while facilitating other learning opportunities, so adding this class would not be as disruptive to your family learning culture.
2. Do dual credit classes fit your student’s learning style?
If your student is a visual learner with strong reading comprehension, a dual credit class is likely a better fit. If your auditory learner needs a lot of discussion or your kinesthetic learner just needs a lot of action, the class may be more of a struggle.
3. Will a dual credit class facilitate my student’s learning?
I had to remind myself, when my first began high school, that the purpose of class is to learn, not to obtain a credit. There’s a big difference. If I had just wanted credits at any cost, I would have been more prone to sign up and not worry about it. But I really wanted my son to get a lot out of his high school years — I wanted these years to change how he learned, how he thought, how he communicated, how he viewed the world. So that gave me pause.
I also realized that taking a community college class would not likely fit my son’s learning style best. I did enroll him in classes with other teachers, and he greatly profited from each of them. But I wanted to ensure each class he took in his high school years was the right one for him personally.
4. Will a dual credit class be good for my student’s GPA?
If the class isn’t right for your student and isn’t right for his learning style, it won’t likely be good for his transcript, either. Since the entire purpose of dual credit is to accelerate college, having a bad grade can’t achieve that goal.
5. Will dual credit cost or save?
There are two big reasons for choosing dual credit courses — cut down on college expenses, and accelerating college graduation. But these are not always benefits. Depending on where your student chooses to go to college, dual credit could cost you unnecessary tuition and save you no time.
We began looking at this closely when my son was halfway through high school. He knew he wanted to study a science, and he had narrowed down his prospective colleges. All his colleges were out-of-state private schools, so I called one to ask about dual credit.
That’s when I learned dual credit isn’t always the answer. If he took dual credit classes, he was not guaranteed they would transfer. But if they did, he would not save time or money; it was impossible to transfer a full year of acceptable credits that applied to his major. Furthermore, since he was paying yearly tuition, he was still paying for classes he wouldn’t be taking if he transferred the credits.
So, come to find out, taking only high school credits in high school was a great idea for my high school students. It enables them to continue growing at their own pace and learning in their own customized plan that is just right for each of them. College comes soon enough. For now, we are relishing the lessons we have right here.
Check out my follow-up to this post right here.
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