Get ahead by taking college courses in high school

Can’t wait to start your college degree? You’re lucky! As a high school student, there are several ways to take college courses before you graduate.

Here’s what you need to know about getting college credit before you throw on your high school graduation cap and say goodbye to those metal lockers forever.

Consider dual enrollment, AP classes, and concurrent enrollment

Once you hit your freshman year of high school, you probably start hearing college planning jargon like “AP scores” and “transferable credits.” All this talk may sound confusing, but there’s no need to feel overwhelmed. Luckily, there’s a simple way to see it all.

Dual enrollment or dual credit courses are college courses that are taught at your high school by a qualified instructor. These courses are more rigorous than your typical high school curriculum, but they count toward high school credits and college credits at the same time. Dual-enrollment classes are similar to Advanced Placement (AP) classes in that they give you college credit while still in high school. Unlike AP classes, however, earning credit in dual-enrollment classes is not dependent on passing a final standardized test.

Concurrent enrollment is another option for high school students. This allows students to take a college course in addition to their high school work. This type of enrollment requires special permission from high school and college, and courses taken will count only for college credit. Unlike a dual-enrollment class, you can’t get additional support from your high school (and high school teacher) when you double-enroll.

The benefits of taking college courses in high school

There are many benefits associated with taking college courses alongside your high school courses. Consider these four benefits when researching your options:

1. Gives you a head start on college. Passing two or three college courses before graduating from high school can save you an entire semester of undergraduate study. Most dual credit courses cover common general education (GE) requirements, such as world history or biology. Regardless of your major, you will need to take these GE courses before you can move on to your major-specific course load. Dual enrollment classes help you complete your GE requirements sooner!

2. Helps you choose your major. Maybe you first wanted to be a nurse, but your college biology course led you to develop another interest. Or maybe your college history course made you think of a completely different career field. It’s normal to want to change majors after one or two semesters at university. Taking college-level courses in high school can help you see the courses you’re most excited about, narrow down your career dreams, and choose your major.

3. Prepares you for college-level work. It’s a good idea to ease the transition into college-level work with support from your high school. Enrolling in dual-credit courses allows you to meet the challenge of a college course while benefiting from the help and guidance of your high school teacher.

4. Boosts your high school GPA and transcript. Many high schools pay special attention to dual enrollment courses and AP classes, often weighing them on a 5.0 scale rather than a 4.0 scale. This means that a grade from one of these classes will count for more points towards your GPA. When colleges look at your transcripts, they will also be able to see that you have outdone yourself academically.

So, should you enroll in college-level courses?

Taking college courses in high school offers many benefits, which is why the opportunity should be carefully considered. If you’re interested in experimenting with a college-level curriculum, it’s important to speak with your high school academic advisor. Since the rules vary by state, your advisor will be the best person to help you determine if this is the right path for you.

Hoping to attend Azusa Pacific University next year? The school maintains a generous transfer policy and works with many local high schools and community colleges. Explore the APU website to see if your dual enrollment or AP courses could transfer to your future degree.

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