There are many challenges that students face on their way to earning their college degrees. Getting into the college of your choice is as competitive as ever. The price of tuition is skyrocketing. Sometimes hurdles arise before you’ve even applied – lack of motivation, low confidence – the list goes on.
Fortunately, programs like Dual Enrollment and Advanced Placement can help to alleviate the burden some of these problems by allowing students to earn college credit while they are still in high school. The savings of earning credit early through these programs can benefit both students and the public, so much in fact, that the total cost of college education could be lowered by up to 12.5%, a significant drop for students and taxpayers alike.
But how do these programs work, and how do they differ from one another?
Advanced Placement (A.P.)
Advanced Placement courses are classes taught through high schools that challenge you with college-level work. At the end of each course, you may take an exam to show that you have mastered the material. Success at this level can look great on applications, and better yet, once you are admitted to your college, your school can actually grant you college-credit for completing these courses.
The problem, however, lies in that not all students are able to gain these benefits after all. For one, not all high schools have the resources necessary to offer A.P. courses. To do so, schools must offer additional sections of existing courses, which in turn means additional costs like more teachers, textbooks, and other materials. There are costs for individual students as well. A.P. courses are not free. That is, the exams you must take in order to earn credit for them include an $86 fee. For students taking multiple A.P. courses, those costs can add up quickly.
Another issue with A.P. credit is that there is no guarantee a college will accept it. Some schools, including Boston College and Williams College, do not accept any A.P. credit whatsoever. For the most part, when you enroll in A.P. courses you do not yet know where you will be attending college, and so there is no certainty you will earn more than high school credit for those courses. For these reasons, many students are deterred from enrolling in Advanced Placement programs.
Dual Enrollment offers you the opportunity to take courses at local colleges, thereby earning credit at no cost, all while simultaneously earning your high school diploma. Here in Vermont, all costs are covered for you when participating in the program.
More importantly, if you are able to transfer these credits once you get to college, you will save tuition, and earn your degree early. As with AP classes, not all schools will accept these credits. In Vermont, only Burlington College and the Vermont State Colleges offer this program. For those planning on staying in-state after high school, the opportunity to make connections at local institutions can provide a significant leg-up in the college application process.
Dual Enrollment also acts as a bridge for students who otherwise might not attend college at all. By successfully completing courses, students will know that they are capable of college-level work. Additionally, they will already be on the way to a degree. For many students, simply having a foot in the door can make all the difference in their decision to pursue higher education or not.