Early Starts: Earning College Credit in High School

There is no other time for opportunities quite like high school. If you play your cards right, you can gain job experience, broaden your worldview, make lifelong friends, and more all before you graduate. One opportunity you shouldn’t let pass you by is the chance to earn college credit before you even choose your school. Here’s everything you need to know about high school college credit courses and how to make them work for you.

Your Options

You have two options when you’re looking for college credit. You can take an AP course, or you can take a concurrent enrollment class. Here’s what you need to know about these two types of courses before you sign up.

AP

AP or Advanced Placement classes are offered through your high school. They are incredibly rigorous and often turn into GPA busters. They expose you to extreme learning opportunities and teach you a massive amount of information, much like a college class. However, passing an AP class doesn’t guarantee you any college credit at all. You must pass the AP test to gain college credit. Then even if you pass your AP classes, they may only count for general education credit in college instead of a specific credit. Chances are, you’ll take the course again in college.

AP classes have no upfront costs, but you do have to pay to take the AP test.

Concurrent EnrollmentĀ 

Concurrent enrollment classes are courses you take in high school, but they’re offered through your local community college. You take a college class at your high school. A concurrent enrollment course is the same course offered at your community college, and you are expected to pass it under the same conditions. Therefore, as long as you pass the class you are guaranteed college credit and that credit usually transfers to your college or university of choice as credit for an equivalent course.

Most concurrent enrollment classes have an upfront cost of the course and the book rental. The price is quite low, but if you don’t have the cash, it makes things difficult. Depending on the specifics of the class, there might be more costs to include supplies or lab fees. However, you aren’t paying tuition costs so it’s drastically cheaper than taking them in college.

Money Pros and Cons

Taking either AP or concurrent enrollment classes saves you a lot of money and offers you a good education. However, concurrent enrollment saves you money as long as you pass the class as a whole, while AP classes only save you money if you pass the test at the end.

On the other hand, AP classes require little to no upfront cost while you need money right away for concurrent enrollment classes.

No matter what classes you decide to take, keep in mind your plans and your needs. Don’t let your counselors push you in one direction or another. Weigh the pros and cons and decide which option is best for you. Take charge; this is your life and your future. Make the most of it.

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