What do you have to do if your high school does not offer the AP classes you really want to take?
There are several ways you can solve this problem: online courses, courses at a 4-year college or courses at a local community college. Let’s talk about each option in more detail.
First, online courses are likely the most convenient choice. These courses are not only cheap, sometimes even free, but they also save you a lot time – you can even take them during school year. Depending on the website you choose, the course may be used for AP credit, college credit, or for a special courses/skill, like coding or design. However, the drawbacks of these courses are likelihoods that you will not receive formal school credits. Nonetheless, you should check with your top colleges if they do give credit for the specific class. The schools will likely have past data on whether they accept a specific course at a specific school. If they do not have data, you will likely have to submit the course syllabus, and determine if it satisfies their requirements.
Some great websites/organizations that we recommend to look into include: Khan Academy, EdX, Coursera, and Codecademy. Khan Academy offers AP courses and intro courses to many academic disciplines, including finance, engineering, and computer science. Khan Academy is completely free and accessible; however, it does not offer credit. So it would be a great way for you to expand your knowledge and explore interest in their free time. Coursera, on the other hand, provides students with 2000+ courses from schools like Stanford and Yale. Just like formal college courses, Coursera has weekly assignments and exams. In terms of college credits, Coursera courses and certificates don’t necessarily carry university credit — though some universities may choose to accept Specialization Certificates for credit.
Besides online course, you could also choose to take summer courses at a 4-year college or at local community college. In this case, most colleges would recognize the credit you earn. Some great choices in the Bay Area include UC Berkeley’s Pre-collegiate program, San Jose State University, City College of San Francisco, and San Jose City College.
Choosing what kinds of courses to take definitely require some research based on your schedule and budget. After all, taking courses outside of school is a great way to help you discover academic passion and help your college application stand out.
It is important to note, many schools prefer courses to be completed at 4-year colleges, but will still be happy with community college courses.
Regardless of where you take the course (online or in-person), the knowledge gained by taking the college course will be looked upon favorably by universities, and can potentially help you in other classes once you are in college yourself — whether it be study skills or knowing parts of the material beforehand.
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