So, you are seriously considering dual-enrolling your child when he is a junior in high school? There are terrific advantages to enrolling your child in a local college while he is still in high school. There are some potential downsides. Having had three kids go through dual-enrollment, I have a couple of things for you to think about before you dive in with both feet. These are things that never occurred to me when my kids first started. It would have been better if I had.
Make an honest assessment of your child before pushing him into college-level courses. Is he mature for his age? Is he outgoing enough to speak up for himself with professors and administrators? If your child is going to need mom to come in and negotiate on his behalf, he is not ready for college. By all means coach him but if he can’t/won’t advocate for himself, wait a year.
With dual-enrollment you are tossing your children into a mix of ages from middle-aged moms to 19, 20, 21 year olds. Many basic college courses call for group projects. With my own kids, I was surprised how often the groups wanted to meet at places where alcohol was in abundance. (Why this surprised me is a mystery, given my own college years.) With my oldest son, I never crossed my mind when he went to school on March 17 for a 9 am class. Several of his classmates showed up despite the fact that they had clearly been celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. Not the end of the world, but sheesh! Finally, there is dating. Do you have a clear policy in your house? If not, make one. We’re not terribly strict here, but I drew the line at my 16 year-old son going out with a 20 year-old young woman. Waaah!!!!
Maturity is different than age. How will your child react when presented with a professor who baits any who disagree with his opinion in a history, economics or political science class? How will your child react to discussions about sexuality, religion or politics? If you feel that they’ll be lost, wait to enroll them or stick to math and science classes. If their views differ from the professor’s view, talk beforehand about how they might handle that.
For me, by the time my older three were juniors in high school, I was exhausted from homeschooling them and dealing with teenage-y stuff. My rule for dual-enrollment was that they were on their own. I would sign anything that needed signed. I would help them pick classes and develop an overall plan. Beyond that, though, they were on their own. There were times I wanted to step in and talk to the professors. I didn’t. It was painful for me. The boys learned to talk to their professors and to figure out what they needed to improve. For all of us it was a much-needed break from one another.
Will your child have a driver’s license and access to a car when he’s dual-enrolled? Will you be driving him? Do not underestimate college traffic if you are the one driving. If you have younger chldren, can you still get their school done while hopping back and forth with the older kids? If your child is taking several classes, can he be trusted to go work in the library on his assignments between classes?
As you can see, the above issues have nothing to do with academics. My boys all performed extremely well academically in their local college courses. The issues that arose were things that simply did not occur to us. I hope you can anticipate things that we did not before dual enrolling your own child.