High school students at the top of their class and even those barely holding onto a minimal GPA can take college courses before graduation. Although in-class instruction opportunities vary greatly with school district, anyone can take online courses with college-level content for the benefit of intellectual pursuit. Some courses also offer transferable college credit.


The International Baccalaureate Organization and the Advanced Placement courses available in most high schools offer participating students the ability to earn college credit while still in high school. Students receive college-level content while still in high school and take final assessment exams to earn college credit. The additional credit gives students a head start toward college completion. Additionally, since the exams are looked upon favorably by colleges, they may increase a student’s likelihood of acceptance.


Founded when academic titans Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology joined forces, EdX now has more than 200 member colleges offering online content free-of-charge to anyone with Internet access. Students take courses presented in an online interactive format and receive certificates upon satisfactory completion. Although students do not earn college credit, the content is college level and includes courses such as Artificial Intelligence, Circuits and Electronics, Intro to Computers and The Ancient Greek Hero.

Summer Programs

Many colleges and universities offer summer programs to select junior and senior high school students. At Northeastern University in Boston, students can attend three-week summer classes that combine the traditional classroom experience with online learning. The content of NU summer seminars varies, but high school students can earn three college credits upon successful completion of the program.


High school students can attend and earn credit at colleges offering online content. At Oregon State, distance learning programs are suggested for self-motivated high school students with GPAs of 3.0 or higher. Choosing from a variety of courses, students can earn up to 8 credits from OSU while still in high school.

Dual Enrollment

In districts that allow the practice, students can divide their academic training between their high school and the local community college. While some programs require in-class attendance, many offer college content online. At North Shore Community College in Massachusetts, students must provide their transcripts and take a placement test to be accepted into the program. They must also complete an enrollment packet and be approved for the program by their high school guidance counselor.

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