college credit high school

How to Earn College Credit in High School

Earning college credit during high school is a great opportunity. The added coursework can be an exciting challenge and helps prepare students for college-level academics. And from a financial perspective, if successful, your student’s efforts can even help to reduce the total cost of post-secondary education.

So, how can you help your kids begin their college careers a little early? There are several ways, including through dual enrollment programs and dual credit courses, and Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) classes.

To get started, reach out to your student’s guidance counselor to discuss the opportunities available at your high school and in your community. This information may also be readily available on the school district website. While all public schools in the state must offer at least one dual credit program, not all schools have the same AP and IB opportunities. Your guidance counselor should be able to make a few recommendations based on your student’s high school academic achievement.

Once you and your student learn the options, discuss the goals for taking college-level classes. Exploring the opportunities to earn college credit while in high school will help your student see beyond graduation day and refine future plans.

If your student chooses to pursue dual enrollment, determine which college courses are truly dual-credit—or ones that give academic course credits at both the high school and at the enrolling college. Your student (and YOU) certainly don’t want to get close to graduation and then realize that the college course thought to have satisfied graduation requirements actually does not! And, if your student plans to attend college elsewhere, your school’s guidance counselor should be able to help clarify which dual enrollment courses are the most widely accepted by other colleges and universities.

While dual enrollment programs enable students to earn college credits at a postsecondary institution before their high school graduation, the AP and IB programs allow students to potentially earn college credits by scoring high enough on standardized exams that generally take place after an advanced high school course.

Most colleges have a written policy regarding their acceptance of AP and IB exam scores—or in the case of the IB program, the IB diploma. So, if your student already has sights set on certain colleges and universities, consider contacting the respective admissions offices to determine what scores will earn college credits.

It may seem daunting to think about college while your student is still in high school. But pursuing a college experience—even on a small scale—helps make the transition to college a bit easier.