Monday, April 20, 2009

Dual credit courses during high school

When you choose to homeschool through high school, you are presented with a unique set of challenges. Perhaps for the first time in your homeschooling career, you now need to assign grades to the course work that your child is completing. You are now responsible for maintaining a transcript that highlights all of your student's accomplishments, classes and test scores. And somewhere along the line, you realize that it can be tricky being objective when the student is your very own child.

Some of us parents are overly generous when awarding grades and credits to our high school children and some of us are overly critical about the effort that our teens are putting forth. In either scenario, we might be guilty of misrepresenting our teen on a transcript. We might be overly positive and complimentary and mislead college admissions with the incredible accomplishments of our child - perfect 4.0 (honors, AP, etc.) or we might dash his chances of getting into a really good school because we thought he could do better and so gave him less than wonderful grades (when in truth, his school work deserved a much higher score).

This is a fine line to walk, isn't it?

The great news is that there are certain check points along the way that can help us as we steer through this high school path. For high schoolers that are homeschooled, test scores become an objective measure of their knowledge and reasoning ability. In truth, test scores are an objective measure for ALL high school kids because standards and curricula vary so widely across our nation. This is the main reason why standardized aptitude tests (i.e. SAT I/ACT) are required of all students who desire to go on to higher education. Other tests that objectively measure a student's knowledge and skill are SAT II subject tests, AP and CLEP tests. These are regarded very heavily by college admissions officers.

Finally, another great way to show your student's true college potential is to have him or her take classes at the local community college. A high school junior or senior can receive dual credit for these classes - meaning they receive high school credit AND college credit at the SAME TIME. And if your teen is getting good grades in college level classes, this is looked at very favorably by college admissions staff.

The other great thing about having your high schooler take classes for dual credit is that they can chip away at their college requirements at a reduced fee (usually). Many community colleges have programs for high schoolers that allow them to take the college class for full credit but at a fraction of the cost.

Here's an example... Our local community college allows high schoolers to take classes for college credit (and high school credit) for $25 per credit unit. The regular cost is $80/credit. That is significant savings!

Plus if my child receives a good grade for her college class, that reflects very well on her. And I am just an observer. I take no part in awarding her the college grade or class.

BUT as her high school teacher, I do have to give her the grade and credit for the high school portion of the "dual credit". So, if she receives a B+ for her college level work, then I could very easily give her an A- or an A for her high school level work. Do you see how this works? You could also keep the grade the same and that would be fine also.

Anyway, I hope that this post has encouraged you to think outside of the box when you are homeschooling your high schooler. Consider dual credit. It is a great option.

Check with your local junior or community colleges to find out how you can enroll your teen.

And be sure to check into the Upper Level Homeschool class - - starting this month!

God bless,
Terri Johnson


Paul said...

I also recommend taking CLEP tests after finishing certain high-school level subjects, such as foreign language and bio. Some colleges like Thomas Edison State will accept all CLEP exams as credit... almost without restrictions on when you took it.

This gives you college credit AND a final, objective grade on the course for a minimal fee.

Your local community college will probably proctor the CLEP exams for you.

Terri Johnson said...

Absolutely! I'll be posting on CLEP testing next week!

Renaissance Mom said...

Where I live in California, when you are in a public high school and take a class at a community college, the public high school records that grade on the student's transcript. An A is considered a 5.0, a B a 4.0 and so on. (A regular high school class A is a 4.0, a B a 3.0, and so on.) In my homeschool when I make up my kid's transcripts, I record the grade they were given by the college with a note that it was taken at the community college. Then I use the higher gpa's for those classes. Hope this helps someone!

Terri Johnson said...

That is true, Renaissance Mom, but many college admissions officers frown upon weighted GPA's. They argue that it is not possible to do better than perfect 4.0. So, that is just another factor to consider when drawing up your student's transcript. It gets tricky, now, doesn't it?

Tricia Preston said...

It sounds great! I'd like to be entered into the drawing!

Tricia Preston said...

oops, right comment, wrong blog. :)

Anonymous said...

I live in CA. My daughter took classes at Jr. College. Beware of "double dipping"! Many colleges she applied to would not accept the credit as college credit if it was used for High School credit. We were told: "keep high school high school and college as college". She was lucky in that all her credits except for 1 english class transferred to college. Wondering if anyone else has had this experience?

Anonymous said...

I know some children who would enjoy those books - mine! :-) I also think many others would. Thank you for making them available.