For high school students facing up to the financial toll a college education can take on a family, amassing as numerous college credits as possible prior to enrolling constitutes a lot of sense. As a result, high schoolers in Missouri are enrolling in Advanced Placement courses and taking AP exams to earn college credit through the thousands.
Yet the numbers aren’t sufficient, according to many education experts round the state. Despite the fact that earning college credits can not only provide substantial financial savings but also function as a good preparation of tougher undergraduate curriculum, enrollment rates over the state have stalled. Based on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Missouri schools rank near the bottom with regards to the percentage of students taking advantage of AP courses.
However, universites and colleges around the state have a much more optimistic take on things because while schools are struggling to get their students interested in AP classes, enrollment in so-called dual credit courses is rising. And based on higher education experts, they may provide more benefits to both students as well as their eventual college destinations than College Board-created AP exams.
The two approaches – dual credit and AP – offer competing ways of thinking on helping high school students earn college credits. AP prepares students to pass through an exam to prove their mastery of college-level curriculum. Dual credit essentially enrolls students in college courses while they\’re still in high school, allowing them to earn credit for.
Caught in the middle are students and fogeys who wonder which approach produces the best payoff.
Experts say both approaches can work. When done the right way, they say, all students are able to lop off an entire year or more of college before they can get there.
Choosing which is the best approach can be the individual student, Based on Nicole Buesse who is a counselor at Fort Zumwalt North Senior high school. Buesse herself is agnostic. She thinks both approaches might be of great benefit to kids who take advantage of them.
Both approaches get their downsides. Some colleges don’t accept AP course credit even if the student earns the best possible grade, with lots of colleges only granting credit once the student scores a 3 or over.
At the same time, the amount of colleges that go ahead and take dual credit transcripts into consideration is still rather small. And worst of all, information about each school’s policy on accepting college credit earned in high school is not well publicized, leading to confusion and disappointment among students.
Advocates say offering college-level courses of any sort in high school pays off, even if not every credit is honored. They reason that schools raise the bar for students and teachers by providing more rigorous courses.
Some, however, warn that pushing students into the courses can backfire. For example, more than half of the AP teachers surveyed a few years ago by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute asserted too many students were in over their heads.