How to Make the Most of High School

Emmalyn Meyer, Design Editor

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     As the deadlines for next year’s class schedules are approaching quickly, freshmen, sophomores and juniors planning to attend college are considering which classes they can take that will give them college credit while still at Homestead. Dual Credit and Advanced Placement are the two most common ways for high schoolers to earn college credit; however, many of the students the classes are designed for are confused about which option is best for them. If this statement applies to you, don’t worry – there is still hope for you (and, if you feel you’ve made the wrong choice after a week of school, you can just drop the class or level down).

     First, there is the workload of the class, as well as the requirements to be in the college and high school class.

     The AP curriculum is rigorous for every class, as it prepares students to take a lengthy national exam at the end of May. While the exam is not necessarily needed to pass the class, it is the student’s ticket to getting college credit. On the topic of requirements and prerequisites, though, there aren’t many; you may have to be enrolled in a certain math or english class, but there are no specific test scores you must have to take an AP class.

     The Dual Credit class workload ultimately depends on the class and its teacher. Often, they are a replacement for an honors class, so they would have about the same amount of work as an honors class in the same subject. Obtaining college credit may be more difficult, though; the student must earn a C- or above in order to do so. Qualifying for dual credit classes can be time-consuming as well, as they require specific PSAT scores; if those PSAT scores have not been attained, the student must take the AccuPlacer test.

     Another subject that can be a big deciding factor in a student’s choice in taking AP or Dual Credit courses is the transferability of the credits – in other words, will the college credits students earn be accepted at the college they attend?

     AP courses generally have a higher guarantee of transferability as long as you earn a high enough score on the national exam. The exam is scored out of five points, and while it’s up to the college what score is acceptable, a four is generally adequate. Many in-state public colleges will even take a three. The answer to transferability is, in many cases, something that applies to different college. If you have a college in mind (or if you don’t) look at what specific universities’ policies are on AP classes.

     Dual Credit often has a “no guarantee of transferability” policy at Homestead. Many students overlook the benefits of taking Dual Credit classes because they fear their credits will not transfer when they enroll in college, especially if they plan to attend an out-of-state university. As with AP, the solution is often to look at specific universities’ policies are for Dual Credit. While most or all states have courses that give high school students college credit, they may have different methods of doing so.

     However, Indiana legislation created the Core Transfer Library in 2012 so that high school students in Indiana could trust their college credits would count.

     “In 2012, Indiana legislation required all public colleges and universities in the state of Indiana to create a list of courses that they would all accept from each other, so that Indiana students could take a university course at any public Indiana college or through Dual Credit at any Indiana high school and know that the class would count, no matter what public in-state college they would eventually attend,” Susan Summers, assistant principal, said. “Almost all of Homestead’s Dual Credit classes are on that list.”

     Summers’ best advice for students is to browse the contents of the CTL and to work with any colleges they are considering about their dual credit policies. There are some out-of-state public colleges and in-state private colleges that have taken Homestead Dual Credit in the past.

     “It is important for students and their families to work with the out-of-state and private colleges they are considering applying to… so that they can know exactly what credits are accepted at those schools,” Summers said. “Making a phone call to out of state and private college admission offices is also an easy way to learn about their transfer policies.”

     Lastly, since the main reason students take Dual Credit and AP classes while still in high school is to avoid the steep expenses of the same courses in college, the cost of these high school classes is a large concern.

     Because AP credits are earned based on the end-of-year national exam, the high school class itself is free; however, for the exception of the math and science exams, the exam costs ninety dollars.

     Dual credit, on the other hand, can either be entirely free or cost about $100. It depends on the class you take. Academic classes are often free, but visual and performing arts tend to be more expensive.

     Thanks to the Dual Credit and AP course options at Homestead, students saved three million tuition dollars last year, according to Summers. All the students who plan to attend college should keep their options open and think about the best way to save money.

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