Getting College Credit in High School: Is it Worth It?

Xandria Hiedrich

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College. The first two words that come to mind for me, is cost and workload. While we may apply to our dream college and we have that one spectacular day of celebration when we got the acceptance letter, what comes after that? You guessed it, the financial calculations. As colleges continue to up the ante for admission, high school students are preparing for college before their senior year by exploring post-secondary curriculum options. According to a 2010 study conducted by The College Board, only 49% of high school seniors polled report that their school did a good job in preparing them for success in both college and the workplace. So the big question is, high school, can it help us with college? The answer lies within AP Courses. There are a variety of ways that students can earn credit for college, such as dual enrollment (students spend half the day at high school, the other at a college campus), direct credit (a college professor or high school teacher teaches college courses), or summer college courses that give students college credit.

High schools are increasingly offering Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate courses (IB) to students that many colleges accept as replacements to introductory courses if they score high enough on the exam. Auditi Chakravarty, executive director of AP Curriculum & Assessment for The College Board, says that post-secondary choices, or academically-rigorous programs and classes allowing high school students to earn credit for college, can put incoming freshmen ahead of the game as they prepare for college.“AP and IB courses help students prepare for college coursework by providing a preview of the critical thinking and problem-solving students need during their freshman year of college,” says Erin Davis, director of College Solutions at McGraw-Hill Higher Education. So, in short, IB and AP classes can help prepare us for the future.

As I’m sure everyone has heard, AP courses are not for the faint of heart. So who should consider AP classes? Experts agree that students need to assess their capabilities before taking on advanced courses. Take a few minutes and answer these questions:

  • How much time do you have?
  • By taking an extra course or a more advanced course, how much are they going to spread themselves too thin?
  • How much work do you already have (or will have)  from other classes?
  • How many nights of week do you have sports, and if you do, do you always finish your homework?

If most of these answers indicate you have too much work… then AP courses might not be for you. AP courses require an increased amount of study time and homework, as they require more rigorous learning.

As the cost of college tuition continues to soar, classes in high school can significantly reduce a tuition bill. If you pass a AP/IB exam, you will receive college credit and and opt out of taking the course in college, which can save hundreds or thousands of dollars. If you want to take it one step further, students who take AP classes might even graduate at an accelerated pace. Although students usually incur exam costs, the College Board and many states and districts offer fee subsidies. Students should speak with their program coordinator or guidance counselor to learn more about fee reduction options.

With every good thing, there are also some down sides as well. Universities’ policies vary for what is accepted for credit, and some don’t accept these classes at all. Experts recommend that students consider taking classes that interest them, possibly helping to decide on a major or degree program. If you are just taking it to get into your dream college, don’t take it, take it because it’s actually valuable to your development.

“5 Ways to Earn College Credit During High School.” My College Guide,
“Business News & Stock Quotes – Saving & Investing.” Fox Business, Fox Business,

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