How Can High School Students Get College Credit?

The cost of earning an undergraduate degree has gone through the roof, but earning college credit for high school students will help reduce overall expenses. Some high school students manage to earn as much as two-years worth of college credits while still in high school so that it will take them only another two years to earn a bachelor’s degree. Aside from cost savings, students who complete some college credits early tend to be highly motivated and better prepared for the rigors of college learning.

AP Courses and International Baccalaureate Programs

The most popular strategy to earn college courses is by taking advance placement courses in high school and passing the corresponding AP exams after course completion. AP courses cover a wide selection of subjects, and students are given the option of taking those courses that complement their interests, skills and future career track. IB programs are completed in the last two years of high school, earning an IB diploma with credits eligible for transfer toward an undergraduate degree at some colleges.

Related Reading: 50 Great Schools Where High School Students Can Get College Credit

These courses are more challenging than the regular high school curriculum and carry greater weight in the calculation of your grade point average or GPA. AP courses earn a credit of 1.5 in your weighted GPA. For some of the top-tier universities, AP and IB performance demonstrates college readiness and may improve your admission chances to a selective college.

Dual Enrollment

The dual-enrollment program makes it possible for high school students to earn enough college credits for an associate’s degree while still in high school. High school students spend part of their day attending classes at a college that partners with the high school to provide these programs. Some high schools offer a few of these college courses at their own campus, and some courses may be offered online. The choice of program concentrations may be limited, but your high school would be footing the bill for all credits earned for your associate’s degree.

Early College Programs

There are colleges that offer highly driven high school students the opportunity to enroll in college even before graduation from high school. Under this program, college credit for high school students are earned by completing pre-approved courses at a college that they intend to attend to complete a bachelor’s degree. Unlike dual enrollment, the college credits earned would count towards a bachelor’s degree or a five-year combined bachelor’s and master’s program. College credits earned in this program may not be counted as high school credits, so if you opt for this route, you may still have to complete all secondary school requirements while taking college courses.

Summer College

While some of your peers spend their summers working as camp counselors or traveling to explore the world, you could be earning some college credits by attending summer school at college campuses. This will jump-start your college experience and provide a taste of college life in a less stressful environment with smaller class sizes.

Online Courses

Some colleges will count online courses completed from accredited institutions as part of your college resume. For seamless transfer of credits, consider taking online courses offered by the college you intend to attend to complete your undergraduate degree. This means you will be earning college credits on your own schedule and without the supervision of your high school.

Earning college credit for high school students will reduce the time you have to spend on campus to complete your bachelor’s degree. This means cutting down on the costs of room and board, standard living expenses and tuition. By completing your bachelor’s degree sooner, you accelerate the pace of your career track and monetize your degree earlier.