You might have heard of these types of classes offered at your high school. Usually, you can choose when selecting courses if you want to take any of these special classes. But what are they? What perks do they offer? Are they worth it? We are going to answer all of your questions.
AP Classes - Advanced Placement
AP classes are advanced placement classes. They are college-level courses taught at your high school by one of your teachers who is specifically certified to teach them. These classes will fill a required spot in your high school curriculum, such as an English or Math credit.
However, the benefit to these classes comes at the end of the year, when you will get to take the AP Exam for that class. This exam will be a standardized test given across the country in that subject. If you get a high enough score, you will receive college credit for the class. It will also count as one of your high school classes.
This means that when you start college you will already have some credits given to you. For example, say you take the English AP Exam and do well. You may not have to take a basic first-year English course in college. You may get to skip English entirely or jump straight to a second-level course. This will save you both time and money as you work your way toward a degree.
Dual Enrollment Classes
Dual enrollment classes are classes given through your high school in conjunction with a local college, tech school, or university. The actual class may take place on the college campus. It varies based on how the program is set up. Unlike AP classes, dual enrollment classes are not standardized.
These classes are exactly what they sound like. You will take one class at the college level. It will count as both a college class once you graduate high school and as a credit in your high school curriculum. There is no exam that you must pass to get college credit in dual enrollment courses. You will receive whatever grade you finish the course with for both the high school and college levels.
But Which One is Better?
If given the option, take dual enrollment classes. This will eliminate any chance that a good student has their college credit jeopardized due to testing anxiety. It also tends to make sure that students don’t try to coast throughout the year and then test their way to college credit. While this may work for some, if they end up in a higher level college class without actually knowing the material they will be worse off than if they were starting from scratch.
Also, dual enrollment classes tend to be more realistic as far as preparation for college since they are taught by a professor and will sometimes involve sitting in class with current college students.
There are some things to be aware of when considering all of your options. Not all schools offer dual enrollment. Also, dual enrollment is often not accepted outside of your current state. So if you are planning to go out of state for college, AP courses may be a better use of your time.
You may not want or have the means to be off your high school campus for a class, making dual enrollment less than ideal. AP Exams cost money but dual enrollment courses often cost as well. If your school is not subsidizing your cost, the AP Exam is going to be your cheaper option.
All in all, you are going to want to look at your specific situation. Either of these special class types can offer you a significant advantage if you make good grades and use them to lessen the amount of freshman-level college courses you will need to take.