Are "Dual Enrollment"

and "Running Start" Really

Homeschool Options? 
by Barbara Edtl Shelton



This program in Washington State is called Running Start; other states have similar programs known as Dual Enrollment.  They all operate in a similar manner.  In a nutshell, the way they work is that a student who is a junior in high school may take classes at a local community college, and at the end of the two years, assuming the right classes have been taken, they will have earned a diploma from high school AND a two-year Associates Degree from the college. Tuition may or may not be paid for by the state; books are paid for by the student.

In some cases, the student must be enrolled at a local public high school because funds from the state are channeled through the high school to the college. (It used to be this way in Washington State, but they have changed it to where students no longer have to be enrolled at the high school.  

We suspect the public schools don't want to be bothered with working with our kids just to put them thru running start). What is required is that a homeschool child be registered with the school district this year as a home schooling family if they want to participate in running start next year.  Sounds like they just want to be sure that it is people that are legitimate homeschoolers and not just families bagging the public system and then plugging into running start.)


So homeschooled students may theoretically enroll at the local high school, not take even a single class, but take all their classes at the college. I say theoretically because when I interviewed the Dean of Admissions at our community college, I quizzed her very specifically about this and she stated this was all correct. (I included this interview on my 6-hour video-seminar called "Senior High Homeschooling Options Resources.") Problems may occur when those in charge of this program at the college or high school either don't fully understand the technicalities or have biases against homeschooled students and simply opt to make their own regulations that may make it more difficult or impossible to fulfill.

While tuition may be free within the context of some programs, there are several "hoops" to jump through before you are at the "free" stage. It's not just an automatic thing. You need to check into the regulations and procedures for enrolling in this program. There are certain requirements and deadlines to follow. I just don't want anyone thinking they can just walk into the registration office of their local community college and say "Well, I have a high school student here who'd like to take a few classes for free."

Next, let me say that I realize this IS a good option for some. But it is vital that you consider much more than just the financial advantages as you make a decision. Let me add a few thoughts on this subject just to give you a "bigger picture" to consider as you decide whether or not this option is for you.

If you participate in this type of a program in the way most of them were set up to be used, your student would enroll for a "full load" for each term of the last two years of high school, which are concurrently ALSO the first two years of college. It is possible to take just a class or two. What it really amounts to is "early college enrollment." Yes, this is an option FOR homeschoolers, and a very attractive one at first glance. While on one hand the tuition for two years of college is paid for by the state, there are hidden "prices" to be paid by those who participate. 

The first one that, quite surprisingly to me, doesn't seem to dawn on people, is that if a student enters this program, he is no longer homeschooling! He is going away from home to attend college! This alone nixed it for me! My years with my kids are already too short! I'm not selling my birthright for a "bowl of alphabet soup!" I believe the highest "price" you pay is the loss of the last two vital years with your child! There is much more going into the "education" of our children than merely academics. In fact, I have recently put together what I call "Wisdom's 7 Pillars for True Education" — only one of which is the academic aspect!

Now, if you prepared for early college entrance, planned ahead, discipled your child, and prepared him/her thoroughly for the college influences and worldly philosophy, and KNOW (that you know) that this is God's leading and timing for your student, it's one thing. But to just hear about this option and say, "Wow! Free college!" without considering your VISION for the WHOLE child, not just the academic and financial aspects, is short-sighted at best. Nothing is really free; you are paying a price for this avenue. You had best be certain you are able to "pay." Here's what I mean...

Personally, I don't think that even most 18-year-old high school graduates are truly ready for the worldly, often anti-Christian thinking that abounds at colleges, even community colleges, and even at many Christian colleges, let alone a 16-year-old entering college via this program. (This doesn't mean they don't exist; I just haven't met one — not even my own offspring, and they are pretty strong in their faith.) Spiritual maturity is my chief concern here; almost anyone can be academically ready for college at an early age, but spiritual maturity is entirely different. I personally think it takes many years for a person to have gained enough maturity to enter the college scene and not have it affect their faith.

These programs are not "homeschooling options." Once you enter this program on a full-load basis, you are no longer homeschooling. So in reality these are "options that are open to homeschoolers" but, to repeat myself, they are not a "homeschooling option." It is really just "early college entrance."  However, even having said "all the above," it can still be an option for some, if thoughtfully approached.  This is how Amy Beckel approached it for her daughter, and just so you can hear another perspective, here is her story...




Testimony Time!
That is actually the title of the page where a testimony that I wrote appears in
the Form+U+La book on page III-15. I don't remember the year that I wrote it,
but Seth was still in highschool - and now he is 25 and has a wife and two
children! In the very last paragraph of that testimony I mention that we had
begun dual enrollment. I should have left off that part of the testimony in
order to see the fruit before I spoke about it. When the opportunity became
available to participatre in dual enrollment I jumped at the chance. I think it
was the 2nd year it was available that Seth participated in it. He never did
finish the AA - and it would be wrong to descend into "What if's" now - but I do
know that the decision to dual enroll was not one that we spent time in prayer
to discern as to whether or not it was the right path at the time.

While there has been much good from his experience - there was also much that
was lost. His roles as husband, father and provider came on quickly and he is
still trying to catch up to it all. I absolutely know that God will redeem and
will work out this path for our son's family - but I don't want others to think
it was the best choice.

God meets us where we are - and at that time it is the place I had camped - in a
lot of academics. I had come a long way from traditional education - but still I
only saw college as the path for success. Now with by 2nd "batch" of children in
highschool, I am spending more of our time in training in character and godly
principles - and letting the academics come along as they can. (The only fly in
this ointment is I have to do all the training along side them as it is all new
to me too. This is a much harder path for ME!)

So, while I don't know which is the best path for each family and each child - I
do know that *every* step has to be prayerfully made. And I also know that God's
ways look different from the world's - and that can seem scary to venture out
there away from the "pack". 

I am seeing a "new" trend in home education, which began as primarily a
religious movement, but when the enemy couldn't stop it - waves of folks began
coming aboard - and now the reasons for homeschooling are often far from
religiously motivated. That is not necessarily bad - just be aware. With this
new wave of home education are bondages of academics that are stealing away the
hearts of the children. If you have not come to a place of releasing academics -
be especially careful about the things that look good. Two that come to my mind
are the use of public school dual enrollments and on-line virtual schools (or in
some places charter schools). It doesn't mean they can never be used - just be
sure that is a decision that is God-led, not just man's logic.




Subj: [c-heya] Re: Dual enrollment???
Date: 3/30/02 10:54:07 AM Pacific Standard Time
From: (Amy Beckel)
Sender: bounce-c-heya-2366632@XC.Org
Reply-to: c-heya@XC.Org (Christians Home Educating Young Adults)
To: c-heya@XC.Org (Christians Home Educating Young Adults)

> THis question about highschool /college - dual enrollment? Just how does
> this work??
> I need the whole picture. (please forgive me I don't understand how it
> works)

Hi, Sher,
Well, I can tell you how it works around here, if you like! :-) My oldest
(now 17) participated in this program last year, and a teeny bit this year
as well. The programs may differ from area to area, though....for one
thing, here (at Clark Community College in Vancouver, WA) the student has to
pay for his/her own books, but at other places books are included in the
program. So I can't give you the whole picture, but just a slice of what it
was like for us. Your best bet for accurate info would be to call your
local high school (or you can start at the local comm. college, but they
might simply refer you to the school, since that's where the "eligibility" ~
and the state/federal funding ~ comes from).

IMHO the first thing to do is really to pray and think about this option.
In's nice to have two years of college paid for; but the family
does pay another price, in time away from each possible evil
influences on the stressful and necessary conformation to the
system...and other things. Many families have entirely positive experiences
with dual enrollment; many hate it immediately and drop out of the program;
our experience was "mixed," as I'll explain a little bit. So....decide what
your goals are for your student and really pray for discernment as to
whether dual enrollment will help move you toward those goals. :-)

You need to convince the local school that your child is at the correct
level to take the test; here, he must be a sophomore or junior in high
school and have at least a 3.25 GPA. (I just made up a GPA!! LOL.) Once
the school enrolls him (yep, the student has to actually be enrolled,
although he doesn't have to take any classes there at all) he can show up to
take the qualifying test at the college. If he passes that, and turns in
all the paperwork on time, he can go ahead and register for classes at the
community college. Some students take all their classes at the college (in
which case they're not homeschooling any more, eh?) and some take a
selection (or even just one class) depending on interest and time. The
classes are regular college classes....nobody would know that the Running
Start students were in the class, if some of them didn't wear their high
school letter jackets, LOL. My point is that they're not "special classes"
for high schoolers. The classes "count" both for college credit, since the
student is a regularly-enrolled student doing regular work, AND for high
school credit at the local high school. (Not that I cared about
that....since we had no plans to "graduate" through the high school anyway,
LOL.) It's possible to earn an AA degree at the end of two years.

Anyway, my dd carried a full load of classes her first year. It was
challenging....she did very, very well academically, but WE MISSED HER. And
SHE MISSED US. !! Because of some other problems that year, she really
burned out and is only taking Choir there this year (hooray). I mention
this just as part of our experience, part of the "picture" as it was painted
in our family. She made some excellent friends and learned a lot about
herself....about how yes, she really COULD "make it" somewhere other than at
the "school table" at home, LOL. And about how that external motivation
wasn't quite as important as she had thought! And about how she could
struggle with and then master a difficult subject. And about how she could
research and put together a great presentation and give it to her class.
She was a featured speaker and question-answerer at the Running Start info
meetings, so she learned how to write and present a speech and to interact
with a crowd of about 900 parents and prospective students. She also
learned other things...had to drop a couple of classes because of, shall we
say, rampant liberalism and s*xual emphasis.... I was so thankful that she
had the discernment to do that.

I could go on for a long time. Already have gone on too long! Sorry! My
feelings are mixed about the program *for our family.* As Barb Shelton
points out in her article
(, families really need
to hear the Lord and pray about this option, for many reasons. Our reasons
for choosing this option were not primarily financial, but they're too long
and complex to go into here. ;-) I'm glad we did it, not for the academics
and college credits dd earned, although those are nice too, but for the
OTHER lessons she learned, about home and about true learning and about
being grounded in her faith. But there are probably less "dangerous" ways
to learn those lessons. Now, we have boys in 7th and 8th "grades." Will
they participate in Running Start in the future? I really don't know. I am
tending towards "no" because of their personalities and because more and
more I treasure each day I spend with them...and I miss the days I didn't
get with dd! But we'll continue to pray.

Well, this is probably wayyyy more than you wanted to know! I hope it helps
you as you begin your research. (BTW, I encourage you to read Barb's
article for her point of view, too!)
Amy in WA

If that is the direction you feel God is taking your student, great. But I urge each parent and child to earnestly seek God on this and to not allow the enticement of free tuition to rank very high — if at all — on your list of motivating factors. If community college is part of God's plan for your student and money is a challenge, as it is for most, I believe God will provide another way. And even if that "way" is the student working for a year before entering college, so be it. God can, if given the opportunity and the whole heart, make the most of any situation. Our son, after graduating last summer, is currently doing a year of "in-depth studies and discipleship" at home, and is also working to earn money to attend college this coming year. I believe that he would not have been ready, even if he (or we) had had the money this last year. His studies are preparing him for the anti-God views he is going to come up against at the community college he'll attend next year.

Our job is simply to obey God: "My sheep know Me, and hear My voice." And where God leads, He also provides. The risk of the world snatching away the heart and values of my child is too great to choose this option merely and primarily for financial and get-college-done-early motivations. Don't sell your (child's) soul for a cup of soup. "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose his soul?"



I was trying to wait until I had read the Form+U+la book completely before I wrote you, but "Dual Enrollment " did it for me. The alphabet soup paragraph has a big fat "AMEN!!!" in the margin. I don't consider myself the smartest person or the best educated. I'm not sure my kids would be ready for Harvard when I'm done with them, but I will not sell my birthright to find out either. I know a few homeschoolers who have jumped on the "Free College" band wagon, and are now reaping devastating consequences. 

~ Jackie Bailey; helping God homeschool the 6 children He has loaned to them; in North Ridgeville, Ohio, for 10 years (as of 8/02)

Dear Homeschooling Friends,


I haven't written to you for a long time.  I wanted to share about our college experience.  Last year, our eldest son attended classes at our local Community college as well as online courses through another college.  The classes he took were vocational and he acquired his certification for Computer Drafting and Design.  This year when he enrolled in academic courses and brought home the books, we decided that 12 years of homeschooling was not going to be usurped by the liberal teaching of a secular college.  Our options were few.  We want our kids to get a degree, yet the type of schools available that meet our expectations are few.  Another thing that is important to our family at this point in our lives is the need for them to stay home and not move away.  The options grew smaller by the minute and to tell you the truth, I really didn't know what we were to do.  I prayed.


Very soon after my prayer I received a free trial copy of a homeschooling magazine.  I saw an ad in that magazine for a homeschool-friendly, 100% online university that embraces the way most of us Christian homeschoolers think.  I thought it too good to be true and with trepidation started my research.  I can only say that this was indeed the answer to my prayers.


I wanted to share it just in case any of you are starting to plan for your children's higher education.  I wanted to let you know of this other option.  We currently have our two eldest sons enrolled.  The university has been more than flexible.  We started late and they have accomodated us.  I asked them once about what type of students were enrolled.  They told me that at the present almost all their students were homeschoolers and all Christian.


I'll leave you here with a little blurb written about the Robert Welch University.


My love to you all,


Maria Bodey

Heart of Home Magazine




Robert Welch University believes in the value of parental involvement in education,

and is a homeschool friendly institution.


This institution is the fulfillment of the dream of

our founder, the late Robert Welch. Robert Welch—American patriot, historian,

entrepreneur, writer, formidable chess player, and insatiable student of language, literature,

and mathematics—envisioned an institution of higher education where a traditional liberal

arts education would be imparted in an environment friendly to all religious faiths and

emphasizing the worldview of the American Founding Fathers. At Robert Welch

University, we call this worldview Americanism.


Americanism is the philosophy that embraces the tradition of limited government, Godgiven

rights, and the belief in the vitality and desirability of human liberty. It includes a

reverence for the religious, historical, and cultural foundations of Western Civilization.

Our curriculum will give students a broad education in history, classical languages,

literature, philosophy, and political theory, with a core emphasis on American history and



Robert Welch University is committed to delivering the highest-quality online liberal arts

education available today, with fully qualified faculty offering courses with the academic

depth and rigor of an Ivy League institution.


Students at Robert Welch University will be introduced to names and ideas taught nowhere

else, and to the way of thinking of the men and women who brought the American republic

into being. Simply put, students will come away from Robert Welch University with a

heartfelt appreciation and a true understanding of what America truly stands for.

© Copyright 1999 / Permission granted to reproduce for

friends or in non-profit newsletters; otherwise please request permission

in writing from the author or by snail-mail here:

Barb Shelton / 182 No. Columbia Hts. Rd. / Longview, WA 98632



I got the background at:



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