AP Classes vs. Dual Enrollment

In contemporary high schools, it is often possible for students intending on going to college to acquire a handful of college credits before they graduate. The two most notable programs are advanced placement (AP) and dual enrollment. AP classes are essentially college level courses where the student must pass a test on the respective subject at the end of the school year to determine if they qualify for credit. Dual enrollment programs allow students to attend classes at a local college while taking fewer classes in high school. Both programs have pros and cons to consider.

For AP courses, a student earning an A, B or C will receive an additional two points to their weighted GPA. While the final test is difficult and covers all material learned throughout the year, many colleges will grant three to four credits depending on the course taken and the score received. The added bonus is that it is completely free to take these classes and colleges are impressed by students taking on a rigorous schedule.

The major cons of an AP course revolve around the fact that, at the end of the day, it is still not a real college course. While secondary teachers are often very knowledgeable in their particular field, they spend considerably more time learning how to better manage their classrooms than gaining in-depth academic knowledge like a college professor. Furthermore, if a student does not receive a sufficient grade on the test, he or she will not receive college credit no matter what how well they did in the class itself.

Dual enrollment, on the other hand, provides students with access to an actual college course in order to earn credit. This means, not only more knowledgeable professors, but an exposure to a real college environment including testing procedures, group projects, lectures and following a syllabus verses having a teacher remind you constantly when an assignment is due. Also, like any college course, these classes last only one semester, and to receive credit, a student must simply pass the class with a C or better, rather than one stress-inducing test.

The downside of dual enrollment is that it is not as convenient. In order to get to the class itself, students may need to go back and forth from high school to college campuses every day. There is also the fact these courses will not give students any GPA boost. Also, many schools hold the student responsible to pay for the course and books out of pocket.

Both options give students a competitive edge in the eyes of a college admissions officer. Therefore, it is for each student and parent to decide which one best fits their needs.


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