Advanced Placement (AP) vs. Dual Enrollment
The decision of taking either AP courses and Dual Enrolling at a nearby college (or even both) is a choice that many of us will have to make, and is one that is incredibly important in preparation for college. Before making this decision, consider all of the differences carefully. Each person is different, and depending on your goals, different options may be better.
Here is what I’ve come to learn by being both an AP student at my high school and a Dual Enrollment Student at Kennesaw State University.
Advanced Placement (AP):
Advanced Placement courses are rigorous courses offered by the college board to encourage students to challenge themselves in high school and earn potential college credit. With every AP Class comes an AP Exam, taken at the end of the school year, which gives each student a grade from 1 to 5. Depending on this score, students may be able to earn college credit for taking that course/test while in high school. In addition, AP Classes can help to boost weighted GPAs at certain schools, and the number of AP Classes taken in high school are also carefully considered by colleges.
AP Classes are often intense in both material and workload. These classes are much more difficult than regular classes (at least in my experience), and will also demand a considerably larger amount of time in homework and study. Those who perform well in AP Classes spend much of their time focusing on schoolwork.
Dual Enrollment (DEP):
Dual Enrollment courses are available to any student that is admitted into a Dual Enrollment program at a nearby university. Students apply similarly to how they would when applying to college as a senior. The requirements for each college varies, so be sure to research the colleges that you are considering!
Dual Enrollment courses are no different than regular college courses, students are in the same classes as regular college students. In my experience, the material is more difficult than traditional high school courses, but for many, not as difficult as AP. However, a significant difference from high school will be both the workload and responsibility. Dual Enrollment students will have a lot more free time, and often less homework (most of the time). However, this means the student must be proactive in making sure that they understand the material and study well. In addition, there are far fewer grades in college, with most grades being dependant on only a couple exams.
Being a dual enrollment student also means being a lot more independant than a high schooler. Students are treated the same way college students are, and are completely surrounded by college students. Many students enjoy the freedom associated with being a dual enrollment student, but generally this means that students will need to be able to handle an adult environment.
Other things to consider:
It is possible to be both an AP Student and a Dual Enrollment Student. Many students enroll part time, alternating between the two every day. However, this means that the student has to be willing to move back and forth between the two every day they have classes.
For the students who are near the top of their class and aiming for Valedictorian/Salutatorian, you will want to consider the fact that most of the time, Dual Enrollment classes do not give the same GPA boost as AP courses. Only some colleges offer courses that give a GPA boost. You will want to research the universities that you are considering.
You do not have to attend the same college you dual enrolled at after you graduate high school. Many students attend different schools than the ones they dual enrolled at.
When it comes to looking as good as possible, many top universities have different preferences concerning students who took AP/DEP classes. It should be noted that many of these universities consider the fact that AP Classes are more difficult than college courses. When in doubt, ask the university.
Each high school/university will be an incredibly different experience. Do not decide to Dual Enroll until you have decided on a college (or more) to dual enroll at and have researched them carefully.
Each university is different in the AP/DEP Credits that they accept. Make sure to research your potential universities and find out which AP/DEP courses they accept as college credit.
In general, each student will make different decisions based off of their circumstances. No one option is directly better than another. No matter your decision, each option will be a great way to prepare you for becoming a college student!