With some colleges getting harder to be accepted into, many high schools are now offering Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and college dual credit classes to their students. However, once you receive your college acceptance letter, how does early college credit affect your college experience? Being someone that ended her high school senior year with enough college credits to be classified as a college sophomore, I’ve learned that there are certain perks and downsides.
1. Time and Money
High school classes that can lead to college credit are often much cheaper than taking classes as a full-time student at a university. With many college students now taking five or more years to graduate, taking classes early in high school is a great way to stay ahead. Not only do you graduate on time, but you benefit economically. Several renewable scholarships still follow the “traditional” four-year plan. Thus, if you are able to graduate within four years, you no longer have to worry about funding your education beyond that timeframe.
2. Your Interests
One of the biggest complaints made about high school is being forced to take classes you’re not interested in. In college you still have to take general requirements early in your undergraduate years, but you get to skip ahead with AP/IB and dual credit. Once you get those done there is now more time to pursue classes you’re interested in and courses related to your major. Not only that, but it gives you the opportunity to meet with older students who have your same interests. This can allow you to network and learn about different opportunities on campus relating to your major.
In some colleges only those with a sophomore classification or above can get help from the school in finding internships. Often times, a minimum sophomore classification is required to even receive college credit for it. Credit earned in high school can easily bump you up to that status. This allows you to explore your field early on. If it’s something you end up enjoying, the internship will provide you with important experience. If you realize that it’s not something you enjoy, then the experience will help you discover other interests.
1. Course Quality
Sometimes AP/IB classes aren’t equal to a university level course. This can also ring true if you took dual credit classes from a community college not known for its academic rigor. If the quality and workload of the courses you took in high school wasn’t good, then there might be issues with completing assignments in more advanced classes from a different college. It’s something you should especially consider when enrolling in more advanced science, math, and foreign language classes. You don’t want to take an advanced course and later realize that you weren’t ready for it.
2. Financial Aid
Certain scholarships are strictly reserved for freshmen, especially the ones that come in large amounts. While your school may allow exceptions, outside scholarships may not. If you didn’t receive many scholarships in high school, it can make looking for scholarships hard when in college. Don’t give up, keep on looking.
3. Issues with Transferring Credits
Most schools begin allowing students to take AP/IB and dual credit classes during their sophomore year. Several things can occurring during that timeframe between sophomore and senior year. If a student is determined to get in into a certain school they may later discover that that school has changed its credit transfer policy. Or in other cases, the student decided to attend another school with a different policy. In both situations, the student would be forced to retake classes and spend more money.
As a former high school student and current college student, I don’t regret earning college credit while in high school. While I do know some students whose credit wasn’t accepted, several of them believe that it taught them the basic skills needed to succeed in college. Remember to always review the transfer credit policies of different universities if gaining credit is something important to you. It can help you decide which classes to take and which classes to wait for until your freshman year.