Since graduating high school two years ago, there’s been a lot of discussion surrounding the advantages and disadvantages of advanced placement and dual enrollment classes. I’ve noticed a general rise in animosity toward AP and favoritism toward dual enrollment over the past few years. I took AP classes my sophomore and junior years, and by my senior year, I was dual-enrolled full time at my local state college, so I have my own opinions about each program.
I didn’t dislike my AP classes, and I did fine on the AP exams, but I think that the problem with these classes is that they don’t mimic college classes like they’re supposed to. Advanced Placement classes are taken at a high school, with high school students, and taught by a high school teacher. Every teacher is different, but some of them will still treat you like you’re in high school, even if you’re enrolled in a college equivalent class. College professors don’t check to see if you’ve done your homework or grade how well you take notes in class. The workload and general layout of an AP class is also pretty atypical of a real college classroom. Some of my high school teachers were fairly unorganized and didn’t have much of a schedule for the class. Additionally, there were instances where tests and assignments were sprung upon students last minute. To sum up my experience with AP, the coursework, for me, wasn’t really all that challenging or frustrating. It was the overall lack of organization and being treated like a high schooler that was irritating.
I preferred dual enrollment for several reasons. By the time that I had finished up my junior year, I realized that the “high school experience” wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be. Being full time dual-enrolled meant that I took all of my classes on a college campus and never had to set foot in my high school. I wasn’t the only high school student who took college classes, and I now imagine that most professors could pick us out, but the point was that they didn’t care. It didn’t matter that we were still in high school because the “dual” in “dual enrollment” meant that we were also college students, and were therefore treated as such.
There seems to also be a phobia among high school students about universities not accepting AP credits. My advice is to first, check the websites of the colleges that you’re considering. It usually lists what AP classes and exam scores correspond with which credits. My bigger and more difficult piece of advice to follow is to go ahead and try to get your Associate’s Degree while in high school. AP and dual enrollment courses aren’t always guaranteed to transfer over, but no university can deny a degree.
Whether you choose AP, dual enrollment, or a combination of the two, there’s really no right or wrong answer. What matters most, even beyond receiving college credit, is making whatever choices will benefit your academic and personal growth.