High school students and high school graduates can pursue college courses and receive college credit for courses outside of traditional degree programs such as two-year community and junior colleges and four-year colleges and universities. After completing individual college courses, students have the option of applying those credits toward an associate degree. Examples of courses for which students can receive college credit are graphic design, introductory marketing, college algebra, calculus and American history.

High School Coursework

Many high schools offer students the opportunity to receive college credit for work done in high school by offering advanced placement courses. Advanced placement courses are advanced high school courses that are considered equivalent to introductory college courses. To receive college credit for these courses, students have to pass the AP exam, typically offered at the end of the year, in the particular course for which they want college credit. AP courses are available in different subjects including history, humanities, natural sciences and mathematics. Examples of possible advanced placement courses are AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP Economics, AP Calculus AB and BC, AP Physics B and C and AP Computer Science.

College Coursework

Many students who graduate from high school do not attend college immediately and instead take individual college courses at community and/or junior colleges without pursuing a particular degree program. These students might take individual courses in subjects that they have a specific interest in, without completing the general education requirements necessary to receive an associate degree. Examples of courses that student might take are graphic design, introductory game design, creative writing, playwriting and/or yoga 1. To apply these completed college course credits toward an associate degree, students have to take additional courses in general education and complete other necessary associate degree requirements.

Associate Degree

Two-year community and junior colleges offer students the opportunity to pursue and complete associate degrees. These degrees are offered in a variety of forms such as Associate of Arts, Associate of Science and Associate of Applied Science. All of these programs require students to complete 48 to 68 credits of course work, of which approximately half is taken up by general education requirements. After completing their associate degrees, students have the option of transferring to four-year public and private colleges and universities, completing another 60 credits of course work and graduating with a bachelor's degree such as a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science.

Associate Degree Requirements

Students who complete individual college courses and then want to graduate with an associate degree have to complete all of the associate degree requirements. Requirements vary, but most associate degrees require students to take 30 credits of general education courses and 30 credits of introductory courses in their area of concentration. Examples of general education courses are college writing, college algebra, Western civilization 1 and 2, introductory sociology and principles of psychology. For example, after completing the general education requirements, students who are interested in studying secondary education take courses in teaching and education while students who are interested in medical laboratory technology take courses in immunology, anatomy and physiology.

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