Many high school students choose to take college courses for credit while still attending high school. Both special student programs and dual enrollment programs offer high school students the opportunity to receive both high school and college credit for each class taken. Colleges use achievement in Advanced Placement classes and dual enrollment classes to help determine scholarship and grant dollars for prospective students. Taking college courses in summer can also help high school students earn credits and free up time during the school year to take more electives.

Dual Enrollment

Dual enrollment students take classes on both their high school and college campuses. These classes take place during the regular school day, in the evenings, during high school breaks and over the summer. The advantage to a dual enrollment schedule is that students get college and high school credit for the classes they are taking. Dual enrollment can also help students become accustomed to the rigors of college life while completing high school and preparing to live on campus. Studies show that students who take advantage of dual enrollment while in high school are more likely to attend graduate school after completing a bachelor’s degree.

Dual Credit

Dual credit, like dual enrollment, offers many advantages to high school students. Dual credit classes are taught in the high school during the regular school day and are for students looking for more challenging courses than their high school can offer. Dual credit classes are especially helpful for low-income students wishing to pursue a college degree; they are usually half the cost of college courses taken on a college campus, while providing students with access to college libraries and other resources. Taking college classes during the normal high school day also eliminates the need to find transportation to the college campus.

Advanced Placement

Advanced Placement classes allow advanced students to receive college credit for certain high school coursework. Advanced Placement classes culminate with a standardized AP test. Much like college entrance exams, these fee-based tests evaluate whether a student’s knowledge is enough to earn him credit for an entry-level college class. Advanced Placement tests are available in all core-curricular subjects, and students passing the tests with the scores required from the college of their choice receive college credit. Taking AP classes and scoring well on the tests can decrease the cost of college because students will need to pay for fewer classes to graduate. AP classes also help prepare students for more challenging college classes by requiring higher level thinking and problem solving skills to score well on the test.

Educational Costs

One of the biggest advantages for students taking college courses in high school is the reduced cost of a college education. AP classes are offered as a part of the regular high school day, and the only additional fee for college credit is the cost of the AP test. Dual enrollment classes can be taken at a fraction of the cost of regular college classes, reducing out-of-pocket expenses for college over the course of a degree program. Increasing numbers of colleges and universities are looking for students who have taken college courses or AP courses while in high school to determine scholarship award dollars. These merit scholarships, of course, can also greatly reduce the cost of a higher education.