I hope I never forget the twinkle in her eye and the bounce in her step as we walked out to the parking lot.
“I’m a COLLEGE STUDENT!” my 15-year-old exclaimed. “I’m IN COLLEGE!”
We laughed together as we drove home from our local community college campus. Emme couldn’t wait to tell her dad and her siblings that she was officially enrolled in Spanish 1. It was quite evident in her mind that one college class makes you a college student. I didn’t have the heart to remind her she was a homeschool high school sophomore.
That one class turned into two classes, then four. We added classes through another program with another local college and before I knew it, my daughter graduated from our homeschool with thirty-two college credits to her name. As she’s pursuing her nursing degree, she’s often commented on how thankful she is to have those classes out of the way.
Over the past few years, homeschool parents have asked me how to begin a dual-credit journey for their children. Often they ask with fear and trepidation. A wise friend of mine once said, “It’s science, not rocket science.” In other words, it’s not as hard as we tend to imagine it would be. There’s no great mystery or secret to acquiring dual-credit classes for your homeschooled high school student. It just takes a little know-how.
There are knowledgeable people who can assist you. You simply need to know what to ask for.
When we first walked into our local community college, we simply asked if we could talk to someone about my daughter taking classes. The kind receptionist led us into the office of an advisor who had no idea what to do with a college sophomore. In hindsight, I should have asked for the “Dual Credit Liason.” I didn’t know there was a person that helps students with their dual-credit classes. I’ve since learned that many college campuses have someone with a similar title. Find this person! They are a wealth of knowledge.
There may be an entrance exam of some kind.
Our local community college requires either a PSAT score or their own entrance exam score to be eligible for classes. The entrance exam is similar to the PSAT. It simply tests knowledge in different areas. At the time my daughter took the entrance exam, she had only completed Algebra 1, Biology, and 9th grade English. She passed the test without issue.
Let your student communicate with professors and administrators.
After she was accepted, Emme did all the communicating with her professors. She also did any communication needed with school administrators. We stayed informed and were always ready to provide back-up if needed, but this gave her the ability to learn to advocate for herself.
Remember, until the age of 18, FERPA does not apply to you.
If you are not familiar with FERPA, it is a federal law that protects a student’s privacy by prohibiting the release of any information about the student’s education to anyone other than the student. Institutions of higher learning must abide by this law if they accept any federal aid. However, this law does not apply if the student is a minor. You may have to gently remind staff and administration that you are entitled to all information for your minor child. Just remember, when your high schooler turns 18 years of age, you are no longer entitled to that information, even if you are paying all of the bills.
College credits lend authority and weight to your homeschool transcript.
I honestly believe the reason why Emme was accepted into a prestigious liberal arts nursing program is that she had two college transcripts attached to her high school transcript. Her high school transcript does not look like I attached ambiguous grades to her classes. Instead, it shows different instructors, higher learning level, and how well she performed at that level. In our state, homeschool diplomas are considered an unaccredited private school diploma. By adding the transcripts of accredited schools of higher learning, her homeschool transcript reflects a more well rounded education.
Looking back, I am grateful for the fantastic experiences we’ve had with doing dual-credit classes in our homeschool. I still have one high school student at home and while her transcript will look different than her sister’s, I am confident I will be attaching some extra college transcripts to her high school years as well.