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College Courses (Dual Credit) in High School

There is a trend in U.S. education, including homeschooling, to take college courses (dual credit) in high school. The purported benefits included saving on college tuition and finishing college sooner. However, while dual credit has proven to be beneficial in some cases, it has not in others. In many cases it can actually be academically detrimental and financially more costly. Here are some things to consider in making wise decisions about dual credit opportunities.

Things to consider

  • The college transcript is a permanent record that affects your future more than a high school transcript. Taking college courses too soon lowers your college grades and reduces college and career opportunities. Look for dual credit high school courses that do not require you to register for the college credit until part way through the course, so you can see how you are doing in the course before committing to and paying for the college credits.
  • A college course is typically 16 weeks and the corresponding high school course is typically 32 weeks. A 32-week high school course that offers dual college credit can often provide good preparation for later courses plus the credit. By contrast, a 16-week college course is rarely a good substitute for a high school course. A 16-week college course substituted for high school credit (e.g., community college courses taken instead of high school courses) does not provide nearly the equivalent amount of content and teaching, and leaves the student far less prepared for later courses. This significantly affects the college GPA and makes for a less beneficial college experience.
  • AP exam scores of 4 or 5 generally count for more credit and are more widely accepted than dual college credits in high school. AP exam scores are usually harder to earn than dual college credits in high school; colleges know this and so they respect the AP scores more and offer more credit for them. The most widely respected and accepted dual credit opportunity is the high school AP course that helps you get a 4/5 exam score and also offers direct college credit.

Questions to ask

  • Will the credits transfer to the colleges you are considering? Check first. It is pretty easy to find out in advance, so don’t wait until after you take the course to learn that your intended colleges don’t accept credits from your community college or another college’s on-line program.
  • If the credits will transfer, what will they count toward? Again, check with your likely or potential college(s) first. You may find that your dual enrollment credits just expended your general (“Gen Ed”) and elective credits, still leaving all your required courses and leaving you less flexibility than if you had not taken the college credits in high school.
  • Is it a core course in your intended college major? If so, don’t take it before college — or at least don’t take the college credit. Your college professors won’t respect it, it probably won’t be preparatory enough for the college’s program, and it generally won’t be worth the time saved. College deans and professors generally have lower regard for in-major courses taken from other schools or even taken online from their own school.

TPS College (Dual Credit) Courses

  • Pre-approved by Belhaven University for credit as Belhaven courses (students receive a Belhaven University transcript).
  • University level (university is higher accreditation than college) credits are highly transferable (always check with your other colleges about any transfer of credit).
  • Full-year live classes, with all the rigor and preparatory value of both the high school and the college course.
  • Students do not dual enroll until after the first semester, and dual enrollment is optional (students are not required to pay for the college credits and get the college transcript).
  • 20+ a la carte courses currently available in all subjects.
  • Includes Belhaven High Scholars, an integrated humanities (“classical”) program of literature, composition, history and art history in which students earn 24 college credits in two years of upper high school. (Belhaven High Scholars students are required to dual enroll and pay for the college credits.)
  • More information on TPS College (dual credit) courses…