My senior doesn't have many credits left for his senior year and is doing Dual Enrollment, how many Dual Enrollment credits should he take so his transcript doesn't look weak that year?
If your teen is starting credits early in junior high, or if they end up taking very full semesters or a super senior year, it's very easy to end up in a situation where there just aren't many credits left their senior year.
That is normal.
Don't stress out over trying to pad their schedule with a bunch of extra courses. You don't need busywork to get into college. Here are a few considerations when trying to determine how much to take on that senior year:
Is your teen applying to a college that has a holistic application process?
We refer to a college as having a "holistic" application process if they are looking at all angles of the student, not just transcripts and ACT/SAT scores. Many lower tier and state schools are not holistic, so having a bunch of DE course might help some, but not as much as at a higher-tier school that looks at essays, evaluates your schedule, offers interviews, etc.
Would additional courses in a particular subject related to your teen's planned major help set them up for success?
This is especially true for students entering math or science-related fields, but really for any major there is a good chance that there is a course or two related to your intended major that you could take to better prepare yourself for college. Now you might have to take that class again, depending upon where you Dual Enroll and where you ultimately end up attending, but even if you have to do so you will still be head and shoulders above most of the rest of the class and will have an easier time grasping the subject material.
Is there a particular subject your teen really enjoys but wasn't able to explore due to their schedule?
Sometimes we just have to take certain courses, but if your teen missed out on taking classes in a subject that he/she is passionate about, senior year Dual Enrollment can be a great low-key opportunity to explore that interest in more depth by taking a class.
Has your teen never taken a college/Dual Enrollment course?
Personally I recommend most students to take at least one DE course just to see what a college-level class is like. This can be a great learning experience, and allows them to start adjusting to a college-level workload while they still have their high school support network in place.
If you answered YES to one or more of the above questions, adding in 1-4 Dual Enrollment classes their senior year might be a good idea. Again do your homework to try to ensure those classes will transfer for credit (see my article on that here), but in some cases your goal is just more experience or skills and not the credit itself.
If not Dual Enrollment, then what?
If you answered "no" to the above 4 questions, then generally I would say you don't need to sign up for DE.
But if that's the case, what is your teen to do with all that time?
Well having extra space to focus on the application process, applying to scholarships, and possibly wrapping up their final ACT or SAT exams is definitely worth carving out some extra time for (check out our ACT and SAT prep courses here, as well as my FREE ACT Prep Guide). But if you feel like they'll be able to easily juggle all of that then I have one final suggestion for them.
Get a job.
Job experience looks GREAT on college applications, it brings in a little extra money, and it provides important, real-life training. Even if it is a basic, entry-level job that has no correlation to what your teen intends to do with their life, it still can help them appreciate the effort it takes to earn a paycheck, and the basic skills of showing up, being responsible, and listening to management will help your teen both at college and in the workforce.
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