How to Earn College Credit in High School

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These days, getting a head start on college is worth the effort. 59% of college students now get their degrees within 6 years. And yes, the starting line can start as early as your high school days! Do not fall into the trap of waiting until your graduation nears before making a move on your pre-college life.

You might notice some of your upperclassmen taking advanced classes like AP classes, Dual Credit, or the CLEP exam. It’s because these classes are some of the most common ways to earn college credits in high school. Fortunately, you won’t have to do it alone. High school counselors and college mentors specialize in creating programs you can follow for a smooth transition from high school to college.

Read on to find the four most effective ways of getting college credits while you’re in high school. 

AP (Advanced Placement) classes

Advanced Placement classes allow high school students to participate in classes that offer a college-level syllabus and curriculum. AP courses are mainly available in the United States but are available internationally as well.

Like other classes, the AP ones also test knowledge through examinations. Depending on your AP exam scores, you can receive partial or full credit for college courses.

AP courses are usually focused on freshman-level college courses. Some of the common AP classes include:

  • AP Chemistry
  • AP History
  • AP English
  • Ap Calculus
  • AP Biology

Usually, colleges may consider giving grants or placements (or the very least, course credits) to high-scoring students. While Advanced Placement exams cost around $95 per test, it’s worth a shot as students can earn full or partial credit for a college class. For each AP exam you pass, you can save hundreds or thousands of dollars because you won’t have to take that course in college.

It’s also important to note that different colleges or universities award credits in different ways. Some Ivy League institutions don’t grant credits. But don’t get discouraged as most schools still value AP scores and it does look good on your college applications.

Some colleges may be selective and only accept 4’s or 5’s to give credit. But even if schools vary with how they grant their credits, what matters is that you take only as many AP classes as your time and priorities allow. 

IB (International Baccalaureate) classes 

You may also take the International Baccalaureate (IB) class but it may take longer to finish. The IB  Diploma Program requires students to not only finish a class but a whole course before allowing them to take an exam! If AP classes can earn you credits per test score, some schools in the USA may require a complete IB Diploma.

You may get an IB diploma after two years of completing courses in six areas or disciplines. The IB course tackles a holistic approach with its curriculum. On top of science and maths, subjects on foreign language, writing, and even community activities projects can be expected!

With a plan to take AP or IB exams, you may already begin working around them to fit in your schedule or plans. It is best to check the college’s websites or inquire about their policies so you can manage requirements on the credits you wish to work for.

Dual Enrollment/Dual Credit Courses

AP and IB classes tailor-make a curriculum for a high school student to earn credits. Meanwhile, the Dual Credit Program means that students can enroll in an actual college class while taking high school courses! It’s a popular option for students who want to attend community college and then transfer to a 4-year university to save money on college. So aside from taking advanced courses, you may even immerse yourself with actual college study experience and environment. Classes like these can be taken from your local college or smaller branches of universities near you.

This opportunity allows students to enroll in single classes completion of which can give BOTH high school and college credits! Some states have their dual enrollment programs where students can get as much as 100 credits hours! Be sure to check your state’s (or university of choice’s) provision on these programs. Classes are those which are typically not offered in high schools like more advanced mathematics or a non-so common foreign language.

While AP exams are centralized by the College Board while the Dual Enrollment program is monitored by respective schools. There are chances when Dual Enrollment gives students a higher chance of being accepted for a course more than an AP class. Likewise, there may also be times where admission heads will consider a Dual Enrollment as more rigorous an instruction that the standard AP.

CLEP (College Level Examination Program) Exam

The CLEP is another examination administered by the College Board. It can help you get credits for less than the cost of standard college courses! This exam tests your mastery with tertiary-level subjects. A total of 33 exams in five subjects are offered in the CLEP. Not only will it save you money, but it may also save you precious time. 

Why? It can exempt you from taking elementary or introduction courses that other students will have to take on their freshman year. You can enroll in advanced classes with the right credits! CLEP exams can help you earn at least 3 credits (for each exam you pass). Like the other ways mentioned above, the number of credits awarded may vary per school or university, too.

Find a College Mentor with UStrive to prepare for college

The four items listed above are mostly about taking advanced classes and exams which may be too much to handle for a young student. So should you wish to try some or all of the above (and more!), you can make the most out of your preparation and application period with a college mentor.

Fortunately, UStrive mentors know how to navigate through the world of applications. What sets UStrive apart is it connects students with professional mentors with the student’s chosen field who can help them pursue applications in an organized, effective manner. 

UStrive mentors work closely with students and parents starting from sorting out career options and what classes or exams to take. What makes Ustrive amazing is that it is free for students. You just have to sign up. You may even get to choose a mentor who can help you apply for college, look for financial aid, plan your career, or answer your questions about college applications.

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