Looking at which classes to take next year in high school, your eyes might have scanned over the options like AP English and AP Calculus. Maybe you paused at Dual Credit Physics, Chemistry, or Spanish, but you’re still not sure whether or not to take them. AP and dual credit courses seem like good options, but you know they won’t be a walk in the park. Are they even worth the effort?
When I was faced with that question, I didn’t really know how to find out. There were so many options, but I wasn’t sure which classes would help me the most. I finally decided to sign up for a couple dual credit courses that I had to take anyway, but I made sure to steer clear from the AP classes.
To this day, I don’t necessarily regret my decision (even after hearing my mom repeatedly bemoan my not taking AP Calculus), but I do regret not having done more research before finalizing my schedule.
What are benefits of college credit in high school?
This is the biggest question to ask, and the answer can differ for everyone. A lot of the potential benefits depend on which university you decide to go to and which major you choose. But even still, there are quite a few good things that come from taking an AP or dual credit class. Just remember that not all of these may apply, and you will have to find out how your specific university gives credit to these type of courses.
When you go to college, you’ll already have some credits in your belt
This may not seem like that great of a benefit, but it can help for a few reasons. First of all, if you get college credit for your high school classes, that will be counted towards graduation. Often, in order to graduate, you have to have so many credits, and so your high school classes can help you graduate faster.
Also, in my case, my college gives students with more credits first pick on classes. So even with the few that I came in with, I often got an earlier registration date than other peers. It was much less of a hassle trying to sign up for the class everyone wanted.
Required core classes might be taken care of
Every university will have core classes that students have to take which aren’t a part of their major. So even if you don’t have any AP or Dual Credit options for credit in your desired major, if you choose classes with general course requirements in mind, you can get a couple of those done even before you get to college.
This is actually a really big plus because often, freshman general courses are some of the hardest. Or at least, as freshman, you’ll feel like they are. I know that I was relieved to find out that my high school American history class transferred over, getting me out of American Heritage—the bane of all freshman at my university. Seriously, everyone complained about it.
You’ll get experience with higher expectations and more homework
While you may not be too excited about this at first, it’s actually a good thing to give yourself a little taste of what college will be like before you get there. Often, college classes do have higher expectations for their students, and there are bigger and more frequent assignments. I’ve met a lot of freshman who weren’t prepared for the work load, and they have to adjust pretty quickly.
My dual credit courses in high school helped me learn to pick it up a notch, but they still weren’t full-blown college level. It made for an easier transition between high school and university studying. So yes, the classes I took as a senior were a lot easier than they would have been at an actual university, and my grades still counted for my overall college GPA.
The classes are not as expensive
This might be a deciding factor for some students. I know it was for me. It’s true, though, that if you sign up for either AP or dual credit, it’s going to cost you less than if you were to pay college tuition and take the same classes. That’s a pretty good deal, and it made me decide that they were worth it.
Are college classes during high school for everyone?
Now that you know some of the benefits, you might feel like taking as many AP or Dual Credit classes is a no-brainer. However, there are still some factors to consider. You’ll want to make sure you choose the right ones! Not all classes are going to be to your benefit, depending on where you go after high school. When deciding, there are a couple things to look at.
Whether or not the credits transfer to your school
This is the biggest determent for taking such classes. There’s nothing worse than paying for credits, only to find out that they won’t even count at the school you got accepted to. So before officially signing up, try checking with the schools you applied for to see their policies on transfer credits. More elite schools tend to not count very many transfer credits, and sometimes it can depend on the type of class and where it was taken.
If the credits will do anything towards graduating
Depending on if you already know what you want to study, this could also help you in making your decision. For example, if you know you want to study biology, but you take a college-credit class on art, that’s probably not going to help you in the long run. Better to go with the science classes so you can get a head start.
If your college GPA will be negatively affected
The last concern is whether or not you actually do well in the class. If you end up getting a C in your dual credit course, that won’t help your GPA in college. In that case, it’d be a good idea to just take the class again when you get to your university. You’ll at least have gotten a feel for what you’ll need to know in the future. That being said, CollegeVine has articles on how to do well in AP Exams, which could really help you out!
A lot of benefits come from taking your AP or dual credit courses. I would definitely say that if you can, you should take them. If you can’t decide which ones to sign up for, find out what would help you at your dream college. You’ll get there, and it’ll be worth it.
For even more help preparing for college, check out CollegeVine’s Mentorship Program!
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