Shhh… don’t tell anyone, but there is a way that you can take one class but get credit for two. Sounds too good to be true, right? It’s actually very common for students to take a class in high school and get college credit while doing so. But every year students miss out on college credit for a variety of reasons, let’s see if I can help you avoid those pitfalls.
Know what type of dual-credit class you are taking.
Just because the course you are taking qualifies as dual credit doesn’t mean you’ll get credit. Some classes require you to take an exam at the end of the course to get the subsequent college credit. Others require you to complete paperwork at the beginning or end of the term to get credit. It’s important for you to know if any of this has been done for you. Talk to your teacher or advisor and let them know you want to get college credit for the class, I’m sure they’ll be thrilled to hear you are interested.
There are a few differences between the course types that you should be aware of. Advanced Placement (AP) classes are high school classes that are taught based on a curriculum similar to the college class. At the end of the term you take an exam and your score can pass you out of classes in college. But not all schools accept all AP, as was the case for me. Keep in mind that these are “pass-on” credits, in many schools this means you still have a specified number of credits necessary for graduation. Dual-enrollment classes are taught at your high school, and are not that different from your norm. Concurrent Enrollment is typically when a student is enrolled in high school and college and will take classes at both. I have run into them every so often in night classes at local community colleges. These students need to remember that they will have a high school transcript but also a college transcript, maybe multiple college transcripts. In Nebraska, both of the latter two will follow the transfer credit guidelines set by the schools. You can check out Transfer Nebraska for more details.
Don’t delay asking for help.
Dual credit courses are often harder than regular classes. If you ever feel like you are getting left behind or are having a hard time grasping a concept then ask for help right away. If you don’t do well in the class you’ll miss out on the college credit and waste the hours you invest. One of the advantages of dual-credit classes is that you have smaller classes so you can get some extra help. For example, last year a friend took AP Psychology at her high school. She didn’t have to take Psych101 at her college this fall. Her class last year had 22 people in it, a single session of Psych101 has almost three times that at her college. Take advantage of this in every way you can.
Don’t overload your schedule.
In the last tip I mentioned the more in-depth coursework and the need to stay on top of the assignments, well you also need to realize that there is likely more study time associated with these classes. Most people recommend that you only take a couple each semester. Too many and you could find the homework overwhelming and each class could suffer. Remember that your grades in these classes will be reflected on your transcripts when you apply for scholarships and admissions. If your G.P.A. drops because of these classes it could affect your ability to pay for the school of your dreams, and that would be a Shakespearean-level tragedy.
Sharpen your study skills.
I didn’t have to study much in high school, not even in my AP classes. I know, you hate me now. The mistake I made was not investing in study habits that I could lean on in college and it made first semester very difficult. Whether you are like me and never study or are one of those that has to invest a lot of time to get the grades you deserve, spend some time developing good study habits. Wynter has some tips for you, and I have a list of apps that I have found over the years.
Avoid going too far.
I’ve seen students get trapped into taking dual-enrollment classes that were for higher level college credit. It sounds good, but ultimately it hurt them. One found himself without the necessary foundation for the next level, mostly because of the time gap between one course and the next. Another found out that the course didn’t transfer in and she wasted the time. A general rule of thumb, don’t seek anything more than a second-year class, especially if it is a subject you plan to major in at college.
Those tips should help you along your journey. Have questions? Leave them in the comments and I’ll make sure they get answered.