Dual Enrollment Homeschooling isn’t new, but it is a huge advantage of homeschooling. I have to admit I was a little nervous when I first started taking dual enrollment (DE) college credit classes as a high school senior, way back in 1986 (just a few years after the wheel was invented). Questions sprang to my mind:
Would the work be too hard?
Would the professors be helpful and fair?
Could I really save time and money?
Fast forward several decades later to the present, as a dad of six homeschool graduates, and an instructor (since 2002) of a high school co-op with 10 DE English and history classes. So the subject of DE has been something I’ve worked on and in for years. And as a homeschooling mom yourself, you’ve no doubt heard about the various options for DE classes out there. You might have similar questions:
Will my teen be able to handle the work?
Are the professors difficult or biased?
Will the credits transfer to other colleges or universities?
Here are a few pros and cons of DE, as well as a short to-do checklist before plunging your teen into a DE program:
Dual Enrollment Homeschooling Pros:
- Speed – DE classes allow your teen to build up college credits—usually general education credits—to speed up the process of earning a two-year or four-year degree. If these are earned in high school, it can save up to two years!
- Convenience – Many DE programs are available online, which allows students to attend classes more conveniently. This can be an improvement on having to drive down to the college, and back home, two or three times a week—as well as trying to find a parking space within 52 miles of the classroom.
- Cost – Everyone’s heard of the number of college graduates who start out their post-school lives with tens of thousands of dollars in debt. DE classes are almost always cheaper than typical four-year college and university classes.
Dual Enrollment Homeschooling Cons:
- Quality – I hear regularly from homeschooling parents and students about the poor quality of some DE classes. We’re talking about instructors who give little effort or occasionally don’t even show up for class—sometimes without even a warning beforehand, to alert students not to drive to class or sign in online! Sometimes online classes are filled with students who have their cameras turned off and do not respond when the professor calls on them. (Hmm….) And I’ve known or tutored DE students who described their instructors’ sluggish or shoddy feedback—no explanations on why test answers were wrong, little to no feedback on essays turned in, and so on. Other students have related to me how their teachers were many weeks behind on grading. One student I tutored was in a psychology DE class. “What’s you grade so far?” I asked her, 12 weeks into a 16-week semester. “I don’t know,” she replied. “We haven’t got any of our grades back yet!”
- Objectionable Content – It’s critical for you as a homeschooling parent to check out as much as possible the content of DE classes before signing your student up for them. This is especially true for subjects like English and psychology that lend themselves to elements that you and your family would object to. Homeschooling moms and dads and their teens many times have met with me and related horror stories about the material in DE classes. Sometimes as they described class content so upsetting and objectionable, students wept in front of me. Highly sexualized, F-bomb-laden literature readings discussed in class with students of the opposite gender? Check. Violent, gory films (like Silence of the Lambs) and film clips which students were told they had to watch in class or get an “F”? Check. And so on. If one of the reasons you homeschool your kids is to spare them this kind of thing, be aware that content that many find offensive is becoming much more widespread in DE classes. Generally, classes like Algebra and Chemistry are less likely to be sources of content your family might object to, of course. But be aware: Objectionable content has already creeped into seemingly non-controversial classes as well. A few years ago I had a high school homeschool student tell me that her DE professor announced that all students were required to attend a play about a type of sexual lifestyle. If they didn’t, they would get a zero for that grade. And what class was this? Anatomy and Physiology!
- Bias/Indoctrination – Surveys for decades have revealed that an overwhelming majority of higher education professors, including community colleges, hold certain political beliefs, which might not reflect yours. Many instructors believe it is their duty to change the beliefs of their students, rather than simply present subjects from both sides. (One community college professor in my area recently bragged that his mission was to “undo 10 years of Christian homeschooling in one semester.”) When I was a DE student back in 1987 (just after the fall of the Roman Empire), my anthropology professor gave me a grade of 70 on a 10-page paper—there wasn’t a single correction on it!—simply because I disagreed with him. And as a college freshman the next year, as I listened to my history teacher announce, “There have only been two good types of government: socialism and communism,” I thought, Well, here we go again! Things haven’t improved: A recent survey at one major university, for example, revealed that nearly 60 percent of students were afraid to speak up in class, because they were fearful of being punished. This matches the experiences of many homeschooled DE students I’ve talked to in different states: instructors who ridiculed them in class for their beliefs, cut their essay grades because they disagreed with their viewpoint, or even failed them in class…even when it was mathematically impossible! And unfortunately, I have had numerous conversations with homeschooling parents in many states who said they had “lost” their teens to brainwashing tactics by DE professors—as well as face-to-face encounters with kids I knew who had been completely physically and mentally altered by DE classes.
I realize that the “Dual Enrollment Homeschool Cons” section is longer than the “Dual Enrollment Homeschool Pros” section, but from my experience with homeschoolers the last 20+ years, they’re definitely things to watch out for! Here are two strategies you can use as a homeschooling mom to help:
- Check it out first! Look up an instructor by name on a “professor rating” web site. Ask for a class syllabus, and a required reading list for a literature class, so you know what your teen’s getting into—or maybe after you read the syllabus or reading list, not getting into.
- Find out about “transferability.” If you know your teen wants to attend a different college/university after DE, contact the institution and find out if it accepts those DE classes. (Most accept General Education DE classes like U. S. History, Composition I, British Literature, American Government, and so on.)
Dual enrollment homeschool can help families save time and money. Just be sure as a homeschooling mom to carefully weigh the pros and cons, so you can make it an enriching and edifying part of your teen’s homeschool journey!
Scott Clifton is the owner/operator of Home School Partners, an online and in-person Christian high school co-op. Home School Partners students can earn 30+ dual enrollment credits for General Education English and history classes—and have fun doing it!