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Why My Teens Don’t Dual Credit

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.

What’s next?

Check out my follow-up to this post right here.

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42 Comments

    • We sent our daughter to a private Christian instead of homeschooling and the dual credit options for her were quite a bit different for her. However, I can say our experience was somewhat similar in that there is no guarantee that the local university will accept them.

      In addition to check whether the local universities will accept the credits, I recommend checking exactly how the classes will transfer. Many universities will have a Transfer Assistance Planner that will tell you what classes are accepted and how they correlate. My daughter ended up with 9 units of dual credit from Colorado Christian University, but they duplicated other efforts such as AP tests. She took the classes with the intention that they would apply to GE credits and it didn’t work out as planned. She still got elective credits, but we might have done things differently had we investigated this further.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Good article!
    One of the best pieces of advice I got as my oldest entered high school was to think carefully about Dual Credit and do what was best for my student–not what others were saying was best. Because of our family schedule and dynamic and her personality, we opted NOT to dual enroll our oldest and have not regretted it. Our middle child dual enrolled AND took CLEP tests and entered college with 20 credits. However, her college credits had nothing to do with why we opted to have her dual enroll. Again, the decision was based on careful consideration of our family and that student. Our “baby” will graduate this year and he is taking a mix of homeschool, dual enrollment college courses, and outside course through a private school. In his case two of the “college courses” he is taking would be considered remedial once he is a Freshman, but can count for HS requirements and elective college credit taking them as a Senior. This is allowing him to build a more solid foundation in areas where he is shaky (math and study skills) before entering college. Each determination was based on the needs of the student. I’m so grateful for that advice years ago to focus on my individual kids, not on what everyone else (all the “good moms”) were doing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good timing! We have taken advantage of dual enrollment for subjects that are difficult to accomplish well at home (particularly Science and Math). It has been a wonderful experience for us with many bonuses. However, we’ve stepped away from it for this Spring Semester to concentrate on the other just-as-important subjects at home. Commuting and accomplishing well college-level assignments, quizzes and exams for two classes takes a big chunk out of a student’s week. Your points are very accurate. As classes started again this week at our local university, I wrestled with the “advantages” we were passing up (accumulating college credits at 75% discount). Thank you for sharing here. I have missed and will enjoy again the simplicity and joy of the season we’re in.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My husband took college courses when he was in high school and he regrets it. He wasn’t mature enough to be driven to excel at them. And he’s had to track down transcripts from that community college for every college, graduate school and medical school he’s attended, which ends up being a lot of unnecessary paperwork, time and energy wasted.

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  4. Lesli says

    Thank you so much for your article. We checked into dual enrollment, but decided it wasn’t for our family. Like yours, my girls are interested but not driven (academically). My oldest is in 10th grade. We talked about it, but she said she just wanted to enjoy the age she is and not rush growing up. My husband and I agreed!

    Liked by 1 person

    • There is a lot to be said for enjoying the teen years. We emphasize that for babies and toddlers, but it’s too tempting to rush our teens into adulthood before they are ready.

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  5. Erika says

    The beauty of homeschooling is that a family can customize the education to the student. I looked into to the popular CLEP program and it was not a good fit for my son, but dual enrollment through the local high school and community college was a perfect fit. He home schooled until his jr. year and now attends the community college through a unique program that our local high school has. He is doing outstanding! My second son is attending the local high school as a regular student and my third son wants to continue homeschooling all the way through high school, and my youngest, we will see when the time gets closer … One family, 4 kids, 4 different paths to success. I don’t let anyone guilt me into “their” best choice, that is simply for “them”.
    P.S. This can also be said for the latest trend of curriculum driven co-ops (not just high school age) – if it is not the best fit for you and your child, don’t let anyone pressure you to do it!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I need some advice, please. My son is in 9th grade, and we are doing teaching textbooks algebra 1, he spends more time frustrated than he does learning. But, this is how he is with all of his subjects…..especially math. He hates to write, hates math, doesn’t mind scince (I let him choose what he wanted to learn in science) or history. I am concerned for his future, in that I don’t want to mess it up! I want desperately to set him up for success. I just feel horrible inadequate. I would love for him to learn a trade..although he would prefer not to…he doesn’t know what he’s interested in doing yet. But, he loves video games and tv. I don’t mind some of that, but I don’t want it to be his life. Any advice is appreciate. Thanks.

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    • I have several thoughts, friend, but more than I can share in a comment. So I’m going to answer in a fuller post this week, and I’ll let you know when it’s published. In the mean time, please know I’m praying for you. (Hugs)

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  7. Christ says

    Thank you for this post I can see dual enrollment working for my oldest, but my 2nd son, who is only in 7th grade, I just don’t know. I know at the earliest if it’s something we decide he’d be a Junior or Senior. He wants to be a veterinarian and we are blessed to live 30 miles from Kansas State University which has one of the best veterinarian schools in the US. We’re also retired military and they offer free community college courses, so that is a great and free option for us IF it’s a good fit. We have 4 more behind them (3rd grade, Kindergarten, 3 years, and 10 months old…so we have many more years of homeschooling in front of us and we’ve been at it for 11 years now!)
    God’s blessed us and I’m so thankful that I, well truly we can find what works best for our children. I am thankful that my children know that I truly have their best interest at heart for them when it comes to every aspect of their life, most definitely their formal education.

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    • Christy says

      Thank you for this post I can see dual enrollment working for my oldest, but my 2nd son, who is only in 7th grade, I just don’t know. I know at the earliest if it’s something we decide he’d be a Junior or Senior. He wants to be a veterinarian and we are blessed to live 30 miles from Kansas State University which has one of the best veterinarian schools in the US. We’re also retired military and they offer free community college courses, so that is a great and free option for us IF it’s a good fit. We have 4 more behind them (3rd grade, Kindergarten, 3 years, and 10 months old…so we have many more years of homeschooling in front of us and we’ve been at it for 11 years now!)
      God’s blessed us and I’m so thankful that I, well truly we can find what works best for our children. I am thankful that my children know that I truly have their best interest at heart for them when it comes to every aspect of their life, most definitely their formal education.

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  8. Five of my 8 children had graduated through homeschool. None of them opted for dual credit and for different reasons. My oldest simply wanted to join the Navy, and he did. He also earned an Associate’s degree during his 8 years of service. My next oldest wanted to take auto mechanics, and he did. He would not have been able to take it as a high school student though. My next child, a daughter, never really took an interest in college though she did take a few classes after she graduated. Today, she is a mother of one and one due in June. My fourth, another daughter, dreamed of becoming a ballet dancer. Today, she is a pointe ballet dancer as well as a company performer and dance instructor at her school! My next son will begin college in the fall. He really wanted to work and take a gap year from all school things. It has been great for him and helped focus him on the goals and vision he has for his life. My last 3 children at in 8th and 10th grade and it isn’t likely they will choose to take dual credit college either. One thing I do stress to my kids is that even if you don’t choose college now, you can always go back…that’s what I did! I went to college 11 years ago and haven’t stopped yet!! I have earned a total of 4 degrees and am pursuing yet another. That is what I want my children to take away from life: you never stop learning, whether there is a degree attached or not!

    Thank you for sharing your family’s experiences!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. The beauty of home schooling is that we all get to prayerfully pick the best path for each of our kids! We love self-teaching (for the high school age at least)! I let my kids self-teach high school subjects with lots of great resources with ONE DIFFERENCE – when they’ve mastered the content, they go ahead and take a college level exam to earn college credit (DSST, CLEP, GRE, etc.). The only part of their studies that has to take place on a college campus is the 90 minute exam! The credits are stored away (mostly by College Board, but also by DSST or GRE) while the kids continue on through “high school” with all the excitement of travel, mission trips, church activities, breeding Australian Shepherds, etc.! We stay on a plan with their subjects so that when they reach age 17 or 18 they’ve accumulated enough credits (and the RIGHT credits) to be almost finished with their accredited bachelor’s degree! This has worked great for 4 of our kids, while 3 others took a more traditional, on-campus route because of their majors (nursing, etc.) They start accumulating college credit at around age 13 and just continue accumulating credits over the next 4 years or so while they do high school – they just do high school studies (at a college level). The 4 that took this route earned General Studies degrees in history, literature, and one in Business and then went on to law or graduate school. They were debt-free and came out of law/grad school at around 21. It never felt hectic or like “over-achieving” – they just did high school well enough to receive college credit. We choose Charter Oak State College because they’re regionally accredited (the highest form) and because of their credit-by-exam policies (they were formed for adult learners so they have credit-earning options that aren’t so “in the box” as traditional schools). Doing this with my kids certainly doesn’t make me a “good mom” – the TRUE “good moms” are the ones who care enough about their kids to do what works in each situation. We’re all so blessed to have the freedom to do this! (We had so many friends wanting to know how to do both high school and college while studying at home, that I finally put our lesson plans into a written format for others to use as well, and I love to share this method with other parents at home school conventions.)

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  10. Nikki says

    Great points! I was just thinking about this the other day. I loved college! I actually stayed an extra year because I loved it so much. My oldest is in 6th grade and I’m already feeling the pressure a bit for adding college classes. Not sure they will be a good fit for her in high school. I appreciare these words to see a different perspective!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Melissa says

    #5, paragraph 2. Should that read halfway through high school?

    Great article! The pressure for “one size fits all dual credit” completely goes against the unique opportunity home educators have in finding what’s best for each student. My older two both enjoyed the benefits of dual credit, but my youngest discovered selective colleges were seeking AP credit over dual credit. He was competing for admission and scholarships with many AP scholars so that was an important consideration for him. He did take some carefully selected dual credit classes (we used rate my professor to find good instructors) but generally found the AP classes more challenging. Overall, our experience with advanced preparation and placement for college to be an excellent experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. good points for parents to consider! I would add that each state and most schools are different, and should be investigated – if your child is interested. We have visited 9 in-between 2 states, and each one had a different process and standards for dual enrollment.. I have 3 adult children already though college now and have families, but my youngest is 18 and a senior in high school. He does not adjust quickly to change, so we began dual enrollment the beginning of 11th grade with 1 class online added to his other programs and activities.. we moved on to 2, then 3 and this last semester of high school, he is taking 4 and one is on campus at a small christian college… He has gotten used to the work load, communicating with professors and now dealing with the classroom all before he moves to a dorm this fall. It has helped him adjust one step at a time, while still under our roof… Where we live the program is completely free, which after having 3 kids already through this process, is a huge plus. We also made sure all of his credits would be transferred to the colleges he is interested in and has been accepted to so far. Helping them plan and grow in their strengths and, more importantly, their weaknesses before they leave the home has been a huge blessing for us.
    Each one of mine was completely different though – and our youngest is the first to dual enroll. We have done AP etc.. as well – but the bottom line is to know your kids – what they can handle and really whats available. Our dual enrollment experience with the smaller college has been excellent – for all of us – and I have a peace of mind that my son won’t be as overwhelmed as he might have been.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Dana Delaney says

    If we were to get a “do over” for our high school years, we would NOT dual enroll or CLEP. They were terrible choices for our boys. Those credits also didn’t help them in their colleges. None of the CLEP credits were accepted at their colleges and my oldest has had to take Freshman Comp 3 times – at all three colleges he’s attended.
    Well done in planning ahead and knowing your kids so well.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Cassidy C. says

    This is a very interesting article, thanks for posting it. I was home schooled up until 15 then I was enrolled in college classes full time at a local community college. This is my second year at the college and it has been hard for me. I know I am getting a wonderful opportunity to finish high school and get a 2 year transfer degree. But, I don’t know how much I am losing of my teen years to be a carefree teen, I kind of wish sometimes that I just finished high school at home. It was very hard for me to go from a fun learning environment at home. To sitting in a class room for 2 hours with a lot of kids in there 20’s. Overall, I am at peace with the decision to go to college at such a young age, but I do not know how it will effect me in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I love your post and reasons for not using the dual credit. I wrote a post about this same thing on my blog. We tried it with my first child, and although he got good grades, I wish that we hadn’t gone in that direction.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. marykprather says

    When I mentioned (to my mom) that I was considering dual enrollment for my oldest she said, “I thought you were homeschooling high school to avoid the public education agenda!” A ha. She is very correct. I do not want to fall into the dual enrollment trap just because everyone else is doing it. I want to use these high school years to continue to have my children learn beautiful, worth, and noble things!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Eileen Saunders says

    One child dual enrolled. He felt he needed it to acclimate to college. My other child waited until he got to college without any CLEP or dual enrollment. Both are doing very well. It’s really up to the student. But I, too, was in love with the idea of high school and college at once. And, some friends had children that graduated highschool with an AA degree. My kids weren’t ready for that and that was quite ok.

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  18. Lorene Tripp says

    I appreciate the dialogue. My plan as a homeschool mom has been to talk with others who have done what I am thinking of doing when I am trying to decide the next step for my child. I have 2 kids that have done dual enrollment. I have been thankful for dual enrollment. My son graduated from high school with 39 college credits. All of them transferred because he was attending a state university. We did not save any time or money because his field is architecture which is a five year program. The benefit for us is that his course load has been lighter most semesters and he was able to minor in music. He is an accomlished piano player so it was a blessing to continue learning more piano and music. My daughter is a senior and is doing dual enrollment at the community college and Liberty online. For her it has helped her learn how to take timed tests, how to communicate with her professors, and how to navigate blackboard or moonless. She is now taking a nursing assistant course to help her to decide whether nursing is for her. We have stayed away from science classes because those classes were not going to transfer. Dual enrollment or Clep testing works well when you have an idea of the school and degree your student wants to pursue as some colleges don’t accept the credit.

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  19. Jill S. says

    I’ve also heard that taking dual credit classes can possibly affect scholarship eligibility. I haven’t researched it yet, but the argument was the best scholarships are made available for your first year and, if you’ve already taken classes, you aren’t eligible. Has anyone had that experience or can either refute or confirm? Thanks!

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    • Debbie says

      They seem to be glad to take the money for dual credit classes, but then appear to look for ways to not accept those classes or CLEP credits and make you retake the classes. It sounds economically motivated, but hopefully not.

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      • I think the issue is more transferring back and forth between institutions. I haven’t heard of any college not accepting CLEP courses taken through them.

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    • Marjie says

      My daughter, now 28, graduated high school with 60 college credit hours earned under dual enrollment. Belmont University in Nashville would consider her a transfer student because of the college credit earned, so she was ineligible for some significant scholarships. Kent State U in Ohio considered her a freshman based on her date of graduation, and was eligible for some scholarships because of that status. She did not attend Belmont; she earned her accounting degree at Kent. So, Jill, I would say you simply need to ask lots of questions, and keep asking for clarification and verification until you have the answer you need.
      Her domestic exchange experience, however, taught us that when a school assures the student they will “accept” transfer credits, that doesn’t mean they accept it for the student’s particular program requirements for a particular major. Lumping a class under “electives” does not further progress toward a degree. Her younger siblings have benefited from the bumps along the way for her to earn her degree, and have a good idea of what questions to ask from prospective colleges.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Debbie says

    I had a concern with my oldest daughter about putting a young teen girl in a dual credit class on a college campus full of older male students. Didn’t seem like a good idea to protect them for their entire lives and then put them into a class full of adult men. Our kids all have dyslexia, so that was also an issue, as well as commuting time. May try an online class for the youngest, but will make sure the credit will count/transfer.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Amy says

    Considering dual credit for my son so I really appreciate the thoughtful analysis on the pros and cons of it. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Detria Moore says

    Thank you so much for sharing this! We are starting to homeschool my entering 9th and 8th grade children and this entire process has helped me grow so much! It’s good to know I’m not alone. I thought I was a failure for raising children who were not as goal-driven as I was. My kids are incredibly intelligent but one wants to pursue music and the other dance. And dual credit does not aid them in THEIR (not mind) endeavors and I’ve had to learn to be okay with this and to accept and appreciate their differences. Thanks again for your post!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Jennifer says

    We did dual credits for my first two children. They helped get them ready for entering the small Christian college they attended. My third child elected to not go to college (she now owns her own grooming salon). Number 4 went to college for 3 semesters and dropped out. He’s now learning flight instruction. Number 5 is graduating from the same small Christian college with a ton of debt. Numbers 6 and 7 have no interest in going to college. Number 8 is just going into 7th so we’ll see how he chooses. One thing I love about homeschooling is the flexibility. Back when we started there were few options (28 years ago). There are many options now which are much better for the child. However do not get caught up in thinking you’ve only been successful at homeschooling if your child goes to college. Let them choose their own way…they will eventually anyway! Encourage them to follow the Lord and do what He has called them to do. That’s the best we can do as parents!

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