Karisa Linafelter is our guest blogger for this topic. She speaks from more than 18 years of experience as the Transfer Expert in the Office of the Registrar at Cedarville University. During that period of time, I can only imagine the wide variety of transcripts she has seen! She has transferred my four students’ many PSEO credits graciously and favorably into their majors at Cedarville, even staying late—very late—at the office one night as one of my students transferred in less than 48 hours before orientation!
Tina*, a first-time homeschooling mom, sent me an email recently and I could immediately sense her frustration. She wanted to do it right but simply didn’t know the lingo. Perhaps you find yourself in her shoes. You know where you want your student to end up, but you’re just not sure how to get there or what all the letters stand for and how they can potentially help in the long run.
Having spent the last 18+ years working in the registrar's office at Cedarville University, I've counseled with thousands of parents and students, helping them navigate, from the university perspective, the best plan of attack.
For those of you Minnesotans (I actually grew up in Faribault), you know it as PSEO. In Ohio (where I currently live), it's called CCP. In Washington State, it's called Running Start and in Florida, it's called Dual Enrollment. To further break it down, every college/university has a name for it. At Cedarville, we call it "College Now" and students can start taking college classes as early as 7th grade (not something I recommend, however). Enrolling your student in an early college program (no matter what the name or acronym) assumes a few things:
1. Your student has the motivation to succeed at the college level. Keep in mind that the grades earned are part of the student's permanent record. Whether the courses are online or in-class, the student needs to be prepared for the rigors of collegiate work and willing to work hard, study hard, and participate in group projects. Enrollment in college classes takes away time from other activities, such as sports, fine arts, and even church-sponsored events. Are these worth sacrificing? I cannot answer that question, but I will say that your student has one chance to be in high school, and we don't want them to resent college before they even get here!
2. Your student needs to have a general idea of their ultimate college major sooner rather than later. As you navigate the tricky world of transfer credits, you will likely receive a "yes" answer to the question, "Do these credits transfer?" The question you need to be asking is, "How do these credits transfer for this particular major?" We obviously want to leave room for the Holy Spirit to guide and direct so that when/if your student does decide to change their major, (and research tells us that 60-80% of college students will change their major at least once and 25% will change their major more than once), the lines of communication are open, but having a general idea is helpful to gear them in the right direction.
3. Your student needs to take full ownership at the college-level. When it comes to communicating with professors, it's the student who reaches out and resolves the issue. If there's a question about a due date or clarification on an assignment, the student is the one to work through the proper channels to clarify. You are there to guide and direct them, but the ultimate responsibility is on the student, and everyone benefits when the student takes a proactive approach to their education.
Taking high school classes while in college has great benefits, but should not be approached as a one-size-fits-all. Each student is unique and each college situation is unique. Ask questions, never assume, and pray for guidance and clarity along the way!
*Name was changed.