Are you selecting your classes for the next semester? Even if your high school doesn’t offer advanced courses, or they aren’t accessible to you as a student, you still have options. Taking courses outside of your high school—at your local community college or online—is worth considering. We discussed with our counselors when dual enrollment makes the most sense. Read on to find out whether these situations apply to you!
What do we mean by “advanced” courses?
Advanced classes in high school can run the gamut from AP to IB, to DE (that is, Dual Enrollment). To brush up on these differences, you can explore this explanation about how these expanded courses can improve your overall student profile.
Of course, some school districts don’t offer advanced courses in school. This can be due to a variety of challenges, based on funding, location, or insufficient support. In these situations, searching for educational opportunities outside the high school classroom may be the best bet to find the intellectual challenge you seek.
Situation 1: No advanced offerings
“I am a student at a school that doesn’t offer honors or AP classes. I want to take most of my classes at a local community college in my senior year, as opposed to taking them through my high school. What do you think?”
Great question, thanks for asking! Here’s one way to think about it: AP classes and curriculum are correlated to freshman year college classes. In our experience, if a student’s high school does not offer AP classes, then dual enrollment at a local community college or state college is looked upon favorably by admission officers.
Situation 2: Looking for an alternate route
“What are your thoughts on taking a community college class/online AP in place of an AP at my school? My high school is set up in a way that’s not accessible for me, and I don’t like how they run classes.”
Online AP courses tend to be accredited and recognized by colleges. So, they are a good alternative if a student has limited options in high school. That said, if the student is not a fan of online learning, community college may be a better option.
Colleges generally provide more information for freshmen on crediting AP exams than community college courses—but that may be just because it’s more common for high school students to have taken AP exams than community college courses.
Navigating key details
Of course, your final decision may depend on the college’s AP policy and whether AP is used for admissions, credit, and/or placement. This College Board AP Credit Policy tool can help inform what is the best AP class, as it lets you search by College and Course.
Eligibility for dual enrollment
In order to be eligible for community college classes as a high school student, you’ll likely need to be 16 years old and/or have parental permission. A minimum GPA (such as 2.5) and/or placement tests of some kind are also a common requirement, so the professor can confirm you will be able to understand the material covered in the class.
The purpose of advanced curriculum
We’ve found that colleges are generally cognizant of different school policies and course offerings and are mostly looking for students to push themselves as hard as they can (i.e rigor) in their class selection. One counselor mentioned a student who took “almost two years of local community college classes,” eventually applying “with an associate’s degree, to show they pushed themselves.” While this isn’t the traditional path for high school applicants, the most important thing is that they demonstrated passion and commitment to their education!
If you’re looking for support as you begin your college admissions journey in high school, reach out to Empowerly. Our community of experts knows how to help you elevate your education every step of the way. Find out what we can do for you in a complimentary consultation session from your home.