Get ahead by taking college courses in high school

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

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

Consider dual enrollment, AP classes, and concurrent enrollment

Once you’ve hit your freshman year of high school, you probably start to hear college planning lingo like “AP scores” and “transferable credits”. All of this talk can seem confusing, but you don’t have to feel overwhelmed. Fortunately, there is an easy way to watch it all.

Dual enrollment or dual credit courses are college courses that are taught in your high school by a qualified instructor. These courses are more rigorous than your typical high school curriculum, but they count for both high school and college credits. Dual enrollment courses are similar to Advanced Placement (AP) courses in that they grant you college credit while you are in high school. Unlike AP courses, however, earning credits in dual enrollment courses does not depend on passing a final standardized test.

Simultaneous 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 the high school and college, and the courses taken will only count towards college credit. Unlike a dual enrollment class, you may not have additional support from your high school (and high school teacher) when doing simultaneous enrollment.

The benefits of taking college courses in high school

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

1. Gives you a head start in college. Completing two to three college courses before you graduate from high school can save you an entire semester of undergraduate study. Most double 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 courses help you meet your GE requirements sooner!

2. Help you choose your major. You may have initially wanted to become a nurse, but your college biology course prompted you to develop another interest. Or maybe your college-level history class made you think of a whole different career field. It is normal to want to change your major after one or two semesters in college. Taking college-level courses in high school can help you see which courses you are most passionate about, refine your career dreams, and choose your specialty.

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

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

So, should you enroll in college level courses?

There are many benefits to taking college courses in high school, so you have to think carefully about this opportunity. If you are interested in experimenting with a college level program, it is important to speak with your high school pedagogical advisor. Since the rules vary from state to state, your advisor will be the best person to help you determine if this is the right course for you.

Fancy attending 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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