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College Based Dual Enrollment (DE)

What is DE and why is it the “most transferable?”

What is Dual Enrollment?

Dual enrollment is not a universally defined phrase.  I use the term “dual enrollment” or “DE” as a generic catch-all term to mean a college course taken by a student for both college and high school credit. In the case of homeschooling, the parent awards the high school credit while the college awards the college credit. Students enrolled in private schools, public schools, and umbrella schools will not have the same autonomy as a homeschool family, and should consult their school officials for guidance.It can be confusing, but different states and different college systems use a variety of terms to mean dual enrollment. If you don’t know the name of a college’s program, you might accidentally end up looking at requirements for regular students instead of for high school students.When you search our Master List of College Credit, you’ll see that dual enrollment is most likely to transfer because it is the only type of credit that is “actual” college credit. All other types under dual enrollment are “potential” college credit.Examples of dual enrollment program names you’ll encounter:

  • Dual Enrollment
  • Career and College Promise
  • Guest Student
  • Non-Degree Seeking Student
  • Pre-College
  • Pre-Baccalaureate
  • Middle College
  • Early College
  • Postsecondary Enrollment Option (PSEO)
  • Concurrent Enrollment
  • Dual Credit
  • Joint High School
  • Early Admissions
  • Articulated High School

How does Dual Enrollment Work?

The student attends class, online or in person, along with the regular college students. Dual enrollment students complete the same requirements as “regular” college students, including receiving grades and a college transcript.There are versions of dual enrollment used in public schools where the teacher holds regular class for the high school students for “college credit.” This type of DE is growing in popularity, but generally speaking, those programs aren’t open to homeschooling families. Before you feel upset by this exclusion, you should know that outcome data says that students who take courses directly with the college are more successful than those who take their dual enrollment courses with a high school, so given the choice, elect to enroll with the college directly.Registration for homeschool students is nearly entirely done directly with the college. Since there are no restrictions placed on where you register, parents can select a college(s) based on their budget, interests, religion, or learning preferences. With nearly 3,800 colleges in the United States, most allowing participation, this opens up a fantastic opportunity for homeschooled teens.

Double the Reward

When your teen takes a dual enrollment college course, they earn high school credit much faster than when they take high school classes. In the first table, the student earned 1 high school credit in English after taking 32 weeks of high school English and 0 college credit. That is the typical schedule for a teen. In the second table, the same student could earn 2 high school credits and 6 college credits in the same time period.

16 weeks
16 weeks
12th grade Honor High School English12th grade Honors High School English
0.5 high school credit0.5 high school credit
Table A
16 weeks
16 weeks
English 101English 102
1.0 high school credit/ 3 college credits1.0 high school credit/ 3 college credits
Table B

CAUTION:   Dual enrollment courses won’t be censored for your teen.  Maturity should always be considered.

As a homeschool family, your teen’s access to dual enrollment is often better than if they were in public school. In many states, the public school’s guidance counselor chooses which students and which courses are offered, and generally, only the top scoring students are eligible. As the homeschool administrator, you can choose whether or not your teen participates, and if they aren’t eligible to participate locally, you can choose to use a different college outside your state. If you want to learn it, it’s out there to learn!

Learn Now Transfer Later

Though this isn’t the case in all 50 states, nearly every state (38) has determined that general education college courses taken for dual enrollment credit at a public college or university are guaranteed to transfer into the other public colleges and universities of that state. 35 states guarantee that the associate degree will transfer perfectly into the state’s public colleges and universities. Not having that guarantee doesn’t mean that it won’t transfer, but having the guarantee is an added peace of mind! Even in these guaranteed transfer states, a private university often marches to their own drum and can reject the transfer of credit with otherwise excellent transferability.Pro Tip: General Education courses like English, math, science, world languages, or history transfer much better than career and technical or occupational courses like business, information technology, management, health, hospitality, agriculture, or skilled trades.

What’s it Cost?

That depends- a lot. Some of you will live in states with free dual enrollment tuition, others will have access to reduced tuition, and some will pay full price. No matter what YOUR STATE OFFERS, you can always shop around! For instance, there are out of state opportunities as low as $25 per credit that are open to anyone, so if your state’s best price for reduced dual enrollment tuition is $100 per credit, you can find a lower price if you want to.Since saving money is a key advantage of Homeschooling for College Credit, we always compare prices. One of our lists will shop the cheapest (or free) dual enrollment programs that are open to anyone. It’s important to remember that transferability has nothing to do with price. In many cases the most transferable courses are also the most affordable. Typically, a course taken at a community college during high school that is used later at the teen’s in-state university, will have the lowest cost and the best likelihood of transferability.During high school you have unlimited access to reduced or free tuition in any amount, but after high school you will absolutely with certainty pay full price.The following states offer free dual enrollment options in some amount.

  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Tennessee
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

Secular or Religious?

Both! While your state may have limitations for what they pay for you can always choose the better fit for your family and you always have the final say on where your teens take college classes. For parents who want religious dual enrollment courses,  I keep a list of religious colleges with proper accreditation and open to homeschooling students living any state.

What to Watch Out For

The downside to dual enrollment is simple, if your child bombs the class, the grade is on their permanent record (college transcript). Colleges require you to disclose all previously earned credit under penalty, so that “D” may count against future college applications, but for sure counts in their college GPA. For that reason, do not rush your child into a course before they’re ready, and consider taking only 1 course at first. Adjusting to a college schedule is difficult for most people of any age.As the high school administrator, you can choose to or not to award high school credit for any course for any reason, so while you can keep poor grades off their high school transcript, it’s never possible to keep them from being disclosed. Almost every college and university participates in the Student Clearinghouse database, which is where and how future colleges will discover all prior college attendance.

Withdrawal vs Failing

Lastly, during the 20 years I taught college classes, more than 90% of the “F” grades I had to issue were simply a result of a student failing to withdrawal. Meaning, the student didn’t fail for “academic” reasons, they simply didn’t withdrawal properly! At the end of every term, a professor is required to submit a grade for your teen. Students who withdrew won’t get a grade, but if your student just stopped attending, it’s very likely that your student’s grade will be “D” or “F.” All colleges have a formal withdrawal process. NEVER allow your teen to just stop attending class—even if it’s an “online” class. If your teen is not going to pass their class, for any reason, withdrawal from the course immediately using the formal withdrawal procedure. You may or may not get any of your tuition back, but you are protecting their GPA, which is more important. Always withdrawal your teen instead of allowing a failing grade for the course.Pro Tip: the course syllabus will state the last date to withdrawal from a course and take the “W.” If it doesn’t, contact the college advisor directly and find out asap. Don’t let that date pass without certainty that your teen will pass their course.

What About “too many” Credits?

College courses taken during high school do not turn your student into a transfer student/applicant. Your teen can earn as many credits as they want! The reason the number doesn’t matter, is because colleges are required to report enrollment data to the government, and the definition dictates that high school students must be classified as a first-time-incoming freshman. Be aware that some admissions workers, advisors, and customer service employees may not understand this and accidently give you incorrect information. As dual enrollment becomes more common, this lag should correct in the next few years.For the motivated student, it’s possible to earn an entire certificate, diploma, or associate’s degree along with his high school diploma. And yes, even if your teen earns a degree IN HIGH SCHOOL they will still apply to college and for financial aid as a first time incoming freshman. College credit earned AFTER high school can turn your teen into a transfer applicant, but credit or credentials earned DURING high school does not.

To Keep in Mind for Out-of-State DE

  • You can use DE programs from any state.
  • DE out of state is self-pay.
  • DE out of state is remote learning.
  • Transfer agreements between schools across state lines is uncommon.
  • DE general education courses significantly improves chances of successful credit transfer. (English, history, math, language, literature, etc.)
  • You do not have to earn a degree at the college you use for DE.
  • Many HS4CC teens earn credit from multiple colleges both in and out of state.


“The admissions rep pointed out that if a student completes two years at a community college and transfers into ANY North Carolina public college, then the savings is the equivalent of them winning a huge scholarship. I hadn’t thought of it like that. He said the savings is between $28,000 and $32,000. That’s pretty awesome!”


Executive Director of Homeschooling for College Credit

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