Monday, March 8

What Every Homeschooler Ought to Know About Online Dual Enrollment

Are you wondering as a homeschooler how to get dual credit in High school online?  We just finished online college classes with two of my high schoolers.  The goal was for them to complete a college level class and get credit for high school and college. They both succeeded!  Here are five things we learned when they took their first Online Dual enrollment College classes.


1.   Decide what online school to use:

First you must decide if you want your high schooler to take a college class from a private college or from a local institution.  Not all schools are created equal when it comes to online classes.  Some schools are just starting to go online.  For our daughter we started her off at a private school, Faith Bible Baptist College, which offered an introductory class in the summer for only $50.  My son also decided to take classes from a private university, Calvary University, since they offered the college classes for only $54 a credit hour for high schoolers.  The nice thing about online college classes is you can take classes from any school that has an online option.  Some states even offer financial aid for High schoolers.


2.   The right equipment and setup:

Second you need to have the right equipment.  Since we were going to take online classes, I knew we would need internet access.  Basically, all you need is an internet capable device but depending on the class, a keyboard is highly recommended.  An iPad could probably be used for online learning but a laptop is the most online class friendly device.  Most online schools use a web-based program called Canvas.  Many schools use Google docs and some provide students with a free Microsoft Office 365 subscription.  Having multiple high schoolers working online also requires multiple devices.  My daughter used a laptop so she could work on her class in the quiet of her room.  An email is usually needed to apply for a class online so a Google account might be helpful especially if the school uses Google docs.  My daughter also recommends ear buds/headphones and a good charger especially if the class is watched live.  If you currently do not have a laptop, I would recommend looking for a Chromebook.  They are a cheap alternative to a laptop and they have everything needed for online college classes.


3.   Choose the right class:

Next you must decide on the right class.  Not all online classes are created equal.  Some online classes seem to be filler credit that may not count towards your child’s future Major.  You want to choose a class that can potentially count towards a major.  Brainstorm with your child about possible college majors and then review several different college study programs to see what type of class is required for different majors.  If there are some general classes like English and math that are required for multiple majors, those would be the first choice.  Remember that colleges may have slightly different requirements for the same class or they may call the class something different.


4.   Apply for the class:

Once you have decided on a class then you need to apply to the college and then register for the class.  Do not wait until the last minute.  Some classes are only offered one semester.  Some classes have entrance exams or a prerequisite class that is required.  Also, since the classes are online don’t just think about fall and spring semesters.  Many classes are also available in the summer or other times since they are online.  When you go to apply, look for an option to apply as a non-degree student. 


5.   Set the environment for success:

Probably the most important part of online classes will be to help your high schooler succeed.  Since the online class will show up on their college transcript it can affect their high school and college GPA.  You need to make sure your high schooler has enough maturity to do well in an online class environment.  If this is the first college class your child has taken, you will want to help them prepare so they can be successful. A quiet environment for class is a definite must.  Know when your child works best and suggest they work on their class during that time.  Are they a morning person or a night owl? Encourage them to watch the class at those times and keep the house quiet then.  My daughter watched her class in her room most of the time but we still needed to minimize any distractions. 


Most online classes will require specific web applications that you may need to help your high schooler navigate.  Canvas is one of the most common web applications for online schools. Here is a link for the online Canvas guide. The Canvas web portal will have all the information about the class including the syllabus. I recommend reviewing the class syllabus with your high schooler before the class begins.  We would gently remind our son to check and see if his syllabus is posted online before his class was to start.  Once the syllabus is posted, read it with him and help plan out all his assignments.  If there is a big paper due, make sure he is working on it a head of time or he might learn about the college all-nighter.  Here is a view of the Canvas student view showing assignments.

My daughter recommends looking at the upcoming assignments and Canvas calendar at the beginning of the week. Canvas also allows you to see scoring outcomes to help determine what grade your student needs to perform well in the class. 

Help your high schooler develop good study habits and note taking strategies before their first online class.  Before your high schooler starts the class, search online for good note taking strategies from different university websites like


Homeschooling High school can sometimes be overwhelming. Even though college might seem like a big step for a high schooler, the benefits are worth it.  One of the best ways to help your high schooler get ahead is to use an online college class for High School credit.  If you have a Junior or Senior high school student, I would highly recommend checking out online college classes as an option for dual enrollment.  

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I’m Josh, a homeschool father of eight children ages 2 through 18 (7 boys!).  Ever since the first iPad tablet was announced I realized the tremendous potential the iPad would have for homeschooling.   I started Homeschool Tablet to provide tips and advice I have learned through homeschooling with tablets and technology.  You can also find me on Twitter and Pinterest.

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