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AP Courses vs Dual Credit: What's best for high school students?

Posted by Paul Blomenberg on Mar 6, 2019, 11:59:00 AM

LuHi_Candids_4382Availability of college-level coursework is a priority for many parents researching high schools for their children. Although the various types of courses seem alike at first, there are differences that may make certain courses seem more or less appealing to you or your child. Of particular interest to many students and families as they research high schools are AP and dual credit courses.

Both AP and dual credit courses can be valuable assets for student academic profiles.

To understand which option is best for high school students, AP or dual credit classes, it’s important to examine each type of course individually:

Advanced Placement (“AP”)

AP courses are a strong way to introduce students to college-level coursework. AP, or advanced placement, courses were created in the 1950s by the College Board to give high school students an opportunity to complete entry-level college work. The College Board is a respected nonprofit organization who also runs the SAT exam.

Coursework is studied inside the high school classroom, and with their high school faculty. Upon completion of the coursework, students take any state or local exams necessary for the subject, in addition to a special AP exam. Rather than a scale of 0 to 100, AP exams are graded on a scale of 1 to 5. Some colleges and universities across the U.S. (and even globally) may accept certain grades on that scale as completion of relevant college-level coursework. As a result, students who achieve the highest grades in AP courses may be able to save money and time once they reach college.

Dual Credit

Dual credit courses actually enroll students in college courses while they are still in high school, as opposed to AP courses that simply prepare them to test for college-level knowledge. Students completing dual-credit coursework get a true feeling for what it is like in college, and earn actual college credit.

In certain circumstances, students may even be able to take off campus college courses. In addition to our own curriculum, LuHi works with online schools for students who desire to take a course that is not offered at LuHi during the given school year.

LuHi partners with Colorado Christian University, Grand Canyon University, and Concordia University Wisconsin to provide online, dual credit courses. Full availability of courses from these universities are available to Lutheran High Students (as long as any course prerequisites are met).

Our partnership with Colorado Christian University (CCU) is particularly unique. In addition to online courses, students who wish for a more traditional classroom setting have the option of two classroom classes taught at our LuHi campus by our teachers. We currently offer this option for students who register for our AP Literature and AP Language classes. In those instances, instead of taking the course as a traditional advanced placement course with an exam at course completion, students will take the course for CCU and will receive credit with a passing grade.

If your child wishes to take dual credit courses from another accredited college or university, we encourage that participation as well. You and your family may wish to explore online course catalogs for other schools if you don’t see coursework of interest to your child among the schools listed above.

The biggest differences between AP and dual credit courses

  • Cost. Dual credit courses require an additional fee, since your child will be technically “enrolled” in courses at a local college. Some AP courses may incur a small fee for exams; however, it is smaller than the cost of dual credit courses.
  • College credit. Dual credit courses are accepted nearly everywhere, while AP courses have fallen out of favor with many colleges and universities in recent years. A few decades ago, many colleges would accept a minimum score of ‘3’ on AP exams to award college credit. Today, if colleges are accepting AP exams at all, they require at least a ‘4’ or ‘5.’ More prestigious schools won’t even accept a ‘5.’
  • Cutting-edge material. The curriculum for AP classes and exams is set by the College Board, and can be slow to change. Dual credit courses; however, are able to adjust as advancements in subject areas are discovered. They offer a much more dynamic opportunity to learn, particularly in the areas of science and technology.

LuHi is proud to prepare your child for the rigors of college.

While we offer a range of dual credit and AP courses for a well-balanced curriculum, providing a rewarding high school experience is one of our biggest priorities. The LuHi family welcomes new students with open arms and provides them with a memorable four-year education. Contact us to schedule a tour or learn more about life at LuHi.

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