Help Your Home-schooler Get a Jumpstart on College, and Save Money!
Tips from the pros and parents
When you home school your high school student, you benefit from the flexibility of choosing your child’s curriculum. Why not maximize your student’s time and help him or her get a jumpstart on college?
Dual Enrollment, or College and Career Promise
One popular option for home-schooled high school students is dual enrollment, which allows students to earn high school and college credits simultaneously. North Carolina has made dual enrollment easier to navigate with its NC College & Career Promise program.
“The purpose of CCP is to offer structured opportunities for qualified North Carolina high school students to dually enroll in community college courses,” says Lisa Mabe Eads, program coordinator with NC Career & College Promise. “These pathways can lead to a certificate, diploma, degree and state/industry-recognized credentials, as well as provide entry-level job skills — tuition free.”
Saving Money on College Costs
With free tuition, high school students can save substantial money on the general education courses they will need if they decide to pursue a bachelor’s degree at a four-year college. Michelle Lair, director of admissions services at Wake Tech, explains that her school — along with many other North Carolina community colleges — participate in the Comprehensive Articulation Agreement, which assures admission to one of the 16 UNC institutions and enables students to transfer with junior status.
“CCP is a great, economic way to take care of college requirements,” Lair says. Students who wish to transfer to a four-year university as a junior only need to pay for two years of college tuition. They will, however, need to cover the costs of textbooks and student fees while participating in CCP.
Exploring Options and Creating Flexibility
While some students focus on earning enough credits to save money on college tuition, others use the credits earned to lighten their load or consider possible majors. Carol Cross’ son, 19-year-old Madison Cross Sugg, earned 21 credits from his community college courses, but has decided that he wants to experience a typical freshman year rather than entering college as a transfer student. When he attends Guilford College this fall, the extra credits will enable him to study abroad and explore his interests. “The earned credits certainly give him much more flexibility and freedom to do what he wants because he got his prerequisites out of the way,” Cross says.
Preparing for and Transitioning to College
In addition to saving money and having more flexibility, there are other positive benefits for home-schoolers who take community college courses. In particular, it helps them transition smoothly from learning at home to the college environment — while staying in close contact with their parents. “Madison has gotten experience in dealing with all the things you deal with in college, including going to the bookstore to buy books, checking online for assignments and talking to professors,” Cross says. “His courses have prepared him academically and gotten him credit, but they have also prepared him for college life.”
Karen Mellendorf’s youngest child, Kayla, who has always been home-schooled, has also grown from the experience of taking community college courses. “She has found confidence in her abilities, and she’s learning to become her own advocate,” Mellendorf says. “The program has given her the opportunity to meet other students outside her smaller home-schooling sphere.”
Earning Credit With Advanced Placement
Parents who home-school always have the tried-and-true option of incorporating advanced placement courses into their student’s curriculum to help them earn credits.
“Taking challenging AP courses is essential for college and career readiness, and is an important factor in college admission decisions,” says Jaslee Carayol of The College Board.
Because students cannot begin CCP until their junior year, some take AP courses the first two years and then move into community college courses. That way, they earn college credit and demonstrate college readiness while also easing the transition to college — all worthwhile goals.
Catherine Brown went to high school long before dual enrollment was even an option. She enjoys writing about education, parenting, theater, art and ordinary people who do extraordinary things.