Advanced placement or dual enrollment?


According to the U.S. Department of Education, students who earn college credits before finishing high school are more likely to complete their four-year degrees on time. For parents, it’s an opportunity to reduce college costs while shortening the time to graduation.

But how should you pursue those credits?

For many students the choice comes down to advanced placement (AP) classes or dual enrollment in a local institution of higher education, like a community college.

While both have the potential to earn college credit during high-school, the two vary greatly.

Advanced Placement

Advanced placement (AP) classes are college level courses offered to high-school students on a more rigorous level.  Students desiring to pursue college or a specific field of interest beyond high-school may find these classes appealing. It’s worth noting that many colleges give advanced consideration to students who list AP classes on their high-school transcripts. However, in order to earn college credit students must pay for, take, and pass the AP exam at the end of the year.

Dual Enrollment

Dual enrollment allows high-school students to earn high-school and college credit simultaneously.  These classes allow qualifying high school students a unique opportunity to jump-start their post-high school careers. Courses are typically offered at a discounted rate and are taught by collegiate level instructors. Unlike AP credit, which is accepted or rejected depending on a student’s final test performance, dual enrollment credits are generally accepted at all of Virginia’s public and private universities. Generally students in grades 11 and 12 participate in these classes, though every community college has its own requirements.

It’s important to note that if a student does not pass the AP exam given by the state, but passes the class, he/she will still receive high-school credit. However, if a student does not pass the dual enrollment class, he/she will not receive high-school or college credit.

Want to learn more? Talk with your high school guidance counselor or college academic advisor to determine the course load that is compatible with your schedule and extra-curricular activities.


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  1. Helping poor students get to college by sending them early
    July 22, 2015 at 9:21 am Reply

    […] READ: Advanced placement or dual enrollment? […]

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