As if teaching your child how to drive wasn’t scary enough, now you have to start thinking about paying for college. Like many parents of high school students, you are probably encouraging your teenager to take advantage of any opportunity to lower the cost of their future college education. That includes earning college credit while completing their high school requirements.
In addition to Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses, many high schools have relationships with colleges and organizations to offer dual credit. Here are four qualities to look at when evaluating a dual-credit program for your student.
Whether the course is held online, in-person at the high school, or in-person at the college, make sure the location is convenient for your student. It’s important to note that some online dual-credit courses still require students to register or take exams on the college campus of the dual-credit provider. This may work for students who live nearby but could be problematic for students who can’t get there in the middle of a school day.
Some dual-credit courses may also let the student dictate how quickly they move through the material. If your student is motivated and enjoys the course material, you might want to see if there are any self-paced options available.
Good dual-credit courses prepare your student for their future college experience. This means that the courses are rigorous, taught by qualified faculty, and have assignments that push students to analyze and think critically about the material.
Look at the course syllabus and make sure that it maps to the objectives of the course. It’s a good idea to also review the assignments and verify that they are more than just multiple-choice tests.
The goal for dual-credit courses is to transfer that credit to the college or university that your student chooses to attend. First, make sure the dual-credit partner is a regionally-accredited institution. Those credits will be most widely accepted.
It’s wise to also check with the admissions office at the college your student wants to attend to make sure the credit will transfer for the major your student wants to pursue. Dual credit is a great way to get pre-requisite courses out of the way, but some programs want students to take foundational courses at the college, so take this into account when selecting dual-credit courses.
For example, if your student wants to major in Chemistry, the Chemistry I dual-credit course might only count for an elective while an Introduction to Communication course might knock out a Communications requirement.
If done right, dual-credit courses will be more difficult than traditional high school courses. And if the dual-credit courses are delivered online, your student might need a little more help with managing their time and staying organized. Understand what kind of support your student will have when they enroll in the dual-credit course. Look for opportunities to interact with the instructor as well as additional support such as access to an academic resource center or student coaches.
If the course is delivered online or has an online component, make sure you understand how the student will access the course. It may be as simple as logging in to the school’s learning management system, or it may be a different platform altogether. See if there is an orientation course or a walk-through so your student can navigate the course with confidence on day one.
Explore dual-credit courses with your high school student! These courses not only save your student time and money on their future degree programs—they can also help your student be more confident in their ability to take on college-level work.
TEL Education is a non-profit organization committed to facilitating equitable access to high-quality, affordable learning in the U.S. For more information, please visit TEL-Education.org.