How to Prepare Your Teen to Use Dual Enrollment or Transfer Credits Wisely
One of the best investments parents can make for their college-bound high schoolers is in dual enrollment credits. These are collegiate-level courses taken while in high school at a fraction of what they would cost at a 4-year institution. Usually offered by a local community college via high school classrooms, these courses can go a long way in reducing the number of classes a college student needs to take to graduate.
Another sound investment is to spend up to two years at a local community college after high school to complete the necessary general education courses needed for graduation at all 4-year institutions at a fraction of the cost (or even for free in many states). Sometimes referred as AA Transfer degrees, these programs can save student tens of thousands of dollars depending on the 4-year institution they plan on transferring to.
Either way, your teen will have some transfer credits to apply to their college experience. However, not all Dual Enrollment/Transfer courses count the same at each 4-year institution.
So, how do you know if the courses your teen is taking either in high school or planning to take at a community college will help them in their college of choice? It will take some research.
Here are the steps, and the tools I have used, to help students identify how their Dual Enrollment/Community College courses will transfer (note, for graduates choosing to attend a community college, the information below should be completed before starting their first semester):
Have your senior identify the college(s) they want to attend.
Have your senior identify the major(s) they plan on studying.
Have your senior identify the General Education requirements each college has for graduation from their institution. These are the courses they require, regardless of major, for graduation from their institution and may also be referred to as “Core Courses”, “Graduation Requirements”, and/or “General Education Courses”. I recommend having a printed copy of this, if possible. Here’s a sample from the University of South Carolina.
Have your senior identify the program of studies for each major at each college they are interested in. I recommend having a printed copy of this, if possible. Here’s an example of a political science course map from the University of South Carolina (Note: there may be difficult to find. It may be helpful to search “[major] program of studies at [college name].)
Have your senior research each college’s website for their transfer section. Within that section there may be a section where students can log their Dual Enrollment/Community College courses to see which classification those courses will count for at their institution. Here's a research page from Coastal Carolina University
Sometimes you cannot find this information on a college's website, so you will need to do a Google search to find this information. Search terms can include the following: [college name] transfer evaluation system, [college name] transfer portal, etc.
Here are two such sites for you: In South Carolina you can use this site: https://www.sctrac.org/Student/Search-for-Course-Equivalencies. In California you can use this site: https://assist.org/. Try a Google search in your area for “Dual Enrollment Transfer Credit” or “[state name] transfer and articulation.”
Using the program of studies guide and the general education requirements guide, your senior should try to match their Dual Enrollment/Planned Community College courses to a specific area of general education requirements and ask themselves the following questions: will that course count for general education at eh college I want to attend? Will it also count towards my major?
Attending a 4-year institution can be expensive. One of the ways to reduce costs is to engage in Dual Enrollment courses and/or attend a community college beforehand. The key is to choose your courses wisely.
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