A Win-Win Opportunity to Save Money and Earn College Credit

Some students do not start college as high school graduates.  They begin their college experience while they are still in high school.  This trend is growing across the country.

There are several ways that students can earn credit while in high school:  Advanced Placement Courses, Dual Credit/Concurrent Enrollment, Dual Enrollment, and International Baccalaureate courses.  It is very important to understand the major advantages to taking these courses.

Advanced placement courses were created in 1955 to bridge the gap between high school and college courses.  The AP Program as we know it today is managed by the College Board.  AP courses are a set of regulated college-level classes in various subjects that allow high school students to gain college credit depending on the scores they receive on a given subject’s standardized examination.  For a list of the AP courses available, please see www.apcentral.com.  In addition to fulfilling high school course requirements for graduation, AP test scores can be used to earn college credit.  For most colleges, students must earn a score of 4 or 5 on the exam to earn college credit.  There are a small number of colleges that may accept a score of 3.  This varies on a school to school basis.  Students should check with the admissions office at prospective institutions for AP credit policies. (Also, please see www.bigfuture.org for test score requirements by subject for each school.)

Another means to earn college credit while in high school has actually been around since 1959 in various states.  Dual Credit/Concurrent Enrollment is an opportunity that allows high school students to take college-level courses taught by college-approved high school teachers for a reduced tuition rate at various institutions.  Students will receive both high school and college credit with a passing grade.  In addition, credit is guaranteed to be transferable to the partner institution and may also transfer to other institutions.  It is very important for students to check to be sure that the credits will transfer to their chosen college or university. However, these students do not get to experience the college atmosphere by taking the courses in their high schools.

Another option is Dual Enrollment in which students are allowed to take college courses that supplement their high school curriculum on the campus of a university or college at a much reduced rate (approximately one half to one third of the regular cost).  Dual enrollment courses are taught by university faculty members and give students a “true college experience” while in high school.  In addition to receiving college credit (with a passing grade) from the host university, students may also be able to transfer the credits to other universities.  High school students are considered part of the college student body with access to the college campus and all of its resources.  The difficulties with taking dual enrollment courses are transportation if the student does not drive, and that the timing of the course at the college may not fit into the student’s high school schedule.  In either case, students may consider evening, weekend, or summer courses.

Lastly, the International Baccalaureate program which began in 1968 was designed to challenge students to expand their worldview through rigorous courses.  The multi-faceted and very rigorous curriculum is developed by the IB organization and is taught by certified schools.  Students must take an IB exam and receive a qualifying score to have the opportunity to receive college credit. International Baccalaureate credits are recognized by the world’s leading universities; however, there is no guarantee that studnets will receive college credit.  College credit earned in this manner is not included on college transcripts, but only on high school transcripts.

Although there may be some minor challenges to overcome in order to take these courses, they are all outstanding opportunities for motivated students to earn college credit and to save money at the same time.  Students should seek additional information about the programs that best meet their educational and personal needs and try it out.  Overall, the opportunity to earn college credit at a reduced rate is a win-win situation.

NEPA Career and College Counseling Associates – Excellence in Career and College Preparation – is available to help students find their ideal career and college major.  Services include aiding in the college admissions process; arranging career shadow experiences; and advising students on college admissions testing, resumes, essays, financial aid, and scholarships.

Contact Jennifer Severini-Kresock, who is an experienced private career and college counselor, at (570) 702-5700 or jkresock@gmail.com for more information on this article and on her career and college preparation services.

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