Students who want to earn college credit while still in high school have many different options. Many school systems offer Advanced Placement and dual enrollment courses. You can also take classes through your local community college or online institutions that will count toward your high school diploma and college degree.
Advanced Placement Courses
According to the College Board, making it through an Advanced Placement course and scoring successfully on the related A.P. exam will give you the needed high school and college credit, and even save on college expenses. If you know what you want to major in at college, taking an A.P. course related to that major and passing the A.P. exam can help you gain advanced placement out of introductory courses. Even if you take an A.P. course and exam unrelated to your major, or if you’re not sure what you want to major in, A.P. courses can often help you satisfy some of your college's general education requirements.
Dual Enrollment Classes
Dual enrollment is an acceleration mechanism that allows students to pursue an advanced curriculum, earning high school and college credit. Course availability will depend on your state and local school system. Requirements to be accepted into a dual enrollment course will vary. For example, students in Florida must complete six semesters be a Florida public, non-public or home-educated student, have a 3.0 GPA, pass required college placement tests and meet any other prerequisites required by individual courses.
Community College Courses
Community colleges often allow high school students to enroll in introductory level courses once they have passed placement exams. If your school system and local community college do not have a dual enrollment arrangement, you can take classes in addition to your regular high school courses. Besides passing placement exams, most community colleges have age and grade point average requirements as well as a limit on courses per semester. Taking classes at a community college will also help you transition into college while still in high school.
Online classes are another way for high school students to earn college credit. You may find a broader selection of courses available online than at your local community college. Online classes provide high school students with a way to look for college classes more specific to their personal interests. As with community colleges, students may have to pass placement tests and meet the age and GPA requirements. Taking a college course online also gives you an opportunity to experience taking a high level of responsibility for your own learning.
Sharon Bolling holds a master's in counseling and human development with a concentration in school counseling from Radford University. She is an experienced instructor of both high school and college students. She has been writing for Demand Media online since April 2013.