Last Updated: May 29, 2014
Sometimes high school students take courses at a local community college or university. These courses may be used to fulfill high school requirements such as foreign language, science, or advanced math. In addition, students can also earn college credits while going to high school.
It is not unheard of for homeschooled students to graduate from high school with enough college credits for an associate (two-year) degree or to be close to earning one. When students take college courses to earn high school credits and college credits simultaneously, this is sometimes referred to as “double-dipping” because the credits earned apply at both levels.
Double-dipping is not illegal or unethical. However, you should keep in mind a few things about this practice. First, some larger colleges and universities do not allow high school students to use courses to fulfill high school credits, though many community colleges are not concerned about this.
Second, taking courses at a college to fulfill high school credits does not mean that a student will automatically earn an associate degree. Two-year degrees are usually in specific areas of study, which means that simply completing courses in English, science, mathematics, foreign language, and social studies (high school courses) may apply toward general credit requirements. More specialized classes in a chosen subject area must also be completed to earn a degree.
Third, earning college credits or even a two-year degree doesn’t always mean a student will have fewer courses to complete for a four-year degree. For a bachelor’s degree (a four-year degree), students are required to complete a certain number of general credits in addition to discipline-specific credits required to earn the degree, which usually total to 120–130 credits in order to graduate. While some of the two-year college credits a student earned during high school may transfer to a four-year school, many may not. Of those credits that do transfer, only some may correspond directly to the courses the four-year school requires.
If your child does take college courses during high school, remember to document all of this information on your high school transcripts. Make sure all of the high school credits required for admission to a college are accounted for on transcripts. If high school credits were fulfilled through college courses, you will have to supply not only high school transcripts, but also official college transcripts in the admission application or packet. You order official transcripts from the colleges your child attended in high school and they will send those directly to the college or university your child will attend after high school. These are often sent at no cost to you or for a small fee; check with the school in question for details.