I graduated from high school in 2009. At that time, I knew of several options for obtaining college credit in high school, but my school only offered a few advanced placement (AP) classes (environmental science, government, United States history, english, biology, calculus) and a very limited selection of dual enrollment courses. At that time, the dual enrollment classes were a group of 2-3 courses that were only useful for people hoping to obtain a future degree in the medical field. This is an okay selection, but it was not that impressive compared to other, bigger high schools in my county.
I remember feeling pressured to take all of these “college preparation” courses when I was in high school. I wanted to be as “prepared” for college as I possibly could! When I look back on it, these classes were not that similar to anything I took in college, and I did not feel any more prepared for college than I would have if I had not taken them. I think college is a type of work and experience that is only understood when you actually experience it. No one, or any level of workload, can prepare you for having classes 2-3 times a week and then having a large amount of free time out of class to either get your work done promptly or procrastinate until the day before it is due.
In addition to not feeling prepared from these courses, I did not obtain any college credit for them. I went to a private, liberal arts college and I needed a 4 or 5 on any AP exam to get college credit. The highest score I got on any of the exams I took was a 3.
Based on my experience with advanced placement courses, I feel as if these aren’t the best indicators of college level work. Someone else could give a completely different review, but this is just my opinion. Another thing that may not always be clear to students is the amount of money that must go into paying to take the AP exams. When I took these tests in 2008-2009, they were around $85 a test. Some schools will pay for students to take these exams but others do not. My school was not one that did that.
The article that I’ve shared from inside higher ed mentions a study performed by the college board to identify factors that create strong college credit in high school programs. They found these factors to be program quality and accountability, value for time and dollars invested, equity and access, and transparency around credit transfer.