7 Ways to Think about College When Homeschooling Part 3

Now, consider the cost of online college courses ($99/month plus a one-time course fee through StraighterLine) and the ability of students to transfer completed courses for credit to an institution offering that same major. Just knocking a few of the introductory courses off (one semester, possibly two) prior to enrolling in college can make an enormous financial difference. Additionally, taking prerequisite college course in high school , prior to enrolling in college, proves that your home school student is prepared academically for the next level.

4 - Look at college courses online before enrolling in an on-campus program.

The big question for many here is not whether to enroll in college courses before college but where to enroll. You can enroll in online college courses that can earn real college credit once transferred just like the college courses you can take at an on-campus community college or university closer to home. The difference, however, between taking online college courses and taking them through a local community college or university is the place, the ability to self-pace, instant access available online to one-on-one tutoring – and cost!

One way to view the difference is that taking online college courses can be considered a continuation to and an extension of the homeschool experience, whereas attending college on-campus while being homeschooled really takes the “home” part out of the homeschooling equation – sending your child to a class at a college campus whether or not your student is developmentally prepared for that immersive next step. Do you see your 14-, 15-, 16-, or 17-year old ready to engage in a classroom with 20-year olds? Online college courses allow your child access to college-level course material, but without necessarily forcing college-level independence.

5 - Understand your state’s options for dual enrollment .

Dual enrollment programs are offered in many states; however, the policies of these programs are set by each state. In essence, a dual enrollment program allows students to take college courses while in high school and apply those credits towards high school graduation requirements. Often, if your child is still in high school, the state will pick up the tab for these “high school/college” courses until the high school graduation requirements have been met. And that’s a great thing. Students in dual enrollment programs can enter college at a point more academically advanced than if they hadn’t taken any college classes while in high school.

Now here’s where it can get tricky. If you are looking to reduce the overall number of college credits your student needs to earn in college, on average 120 credit hours for a Bachelor’s, a dual enrollment program may not be the best choice. Again, this depends on the policy of the dual enrollment program your student is involved in. Some dual enrollment programs allow students to gain advanced standing (bypassing the need take prerequisites they’ve already mastered), but your student may still need to take 120 credit hours of college courses and the corresponding tuition at that college to do so. Make sure you understand the dual enrollment programs in your state clearly, the transfer credit policies at the colleges that interest your student most, and exactly how the credit transfer policies  impact advanced standing and in-college credit requirements.