Many high school students will earn college credits while in high school. This can be a huge cost savings for you, and it can prepare you for the challenges of college.
There are several ways to earn college credits while in high school. These include:
1. Adanced Placement (AP) Credits – Most high schools offer these credits. Most Universities will accept AP courses as being equivalent to certain courses, if the score received was high enough. You should check with the universities you are considering
- To determine if they accept AP courses
- To determine the course credits you will receive for each AP class
- The score needed on the AP test to earn credit
2. Dual Enrollemtn Courses – Some high schools have college courses taught as part of the high school curriculum. In these cases, you receive both college and high school credit for the course. You should check out whether these courses will transfer to the universities you are considering. These are questions you should ask:
- Will the course transfer?
- Will I get credit for hours and the grade or just the hours?
- Is this a course I can use in my major?
3. College Courses Taken While in High School – This option is like number 2 above except you take the courses on the college campus with other college students. Generally this option will give you a better feel for what college is like. You should ask the same questions as listed in (2) above before enrolling in these classes.
4. College Level Examining Program (CLEP) – This is a program administered by the College Board. Basically this program allows you to demonstrate knowledge in a course area by passing exams in the subject. Typically you study on your own, but study guides do exist. The essential questions to ask about this option are:
- Does the school you want to attend accept CLEP tests for course credit?
- Are the subjects you want to test out of in your degree program?
International Baccalaureate (IB) – This is like AP courses. You take courses and then take a test. Where AP courses are widely accepted, IB courses don’t yet have the same level of acceptance. You should ask these questions before pursuing IB courses:
- Will the university you want to attend accept IB courses?
- What course credit will you receive for specific IB courses?
- What score do you need on the IB exam to get course credit?
6. Credit for Life Experience – This option is primarily for non-traditional students who have worked for a while before going to college. In this case you prepare a portfolio of your experience, and the portfolio is then evaluated for course credit. The portfolios can take a lot of time to prepare, but most schools will give you advice on whether a portfolio is likely to be accepted for credit.
7. Credit for Job Related Courses – Some organizations have their own courses that could be like those offered on campus. This is especially true for veterans. Universities may award course credit for these organizational sponsored courses. Often credits are awarded, but the courses aren’t that helpful in specific degree programs.
Finally there are some things you should think about with regard to course credits you earn.
- Do the course credits give you the knowledge you need for the next course in the sequence?
- If you do take the following course, are you ready to compete with students who have already been in college for a year?
- AP scores typically are issued in July. Many universities set your schedule in June. You’ll need to prepare a schedule in anticipation of AP course credits being awarded.
- Many universities have a policy that allows you to repeat courses and eliminate a first bad grade in a class. You can only do this for courses taken up to a given number of course hours. Credits earned prior to college may limit the time allowed for repeating classes.
As a general rule, it’s good to gain college credit prior to first enrollment. The key is to do your homework on the credits you want to pursue..