It’s a common question among high school students and their parents: AP classes or dual enrollment?
While there is no right answer for every student, each individual might find that one or both of these options suits them best. Each choice allows students to be challenged by rigorous classes, obtain college credit, improve their college applications and save money on college tuition costs. However, location, qualification requirements, method of obtaining college credit, class offerings and costs differ.
AP, or Advanced Placement, classes are created by AP development committees for the College Board. Each AP class has its own development committee comprised of six or seven high school and college instructors from around the country. The classes (including online Advanced Placement courses) and their respective exams are meant to reflect the curriculum students would encounter in a college-equivalent of that class’ subject, while in a high school setting.
Dual enrollment allows high school students to enroll in a dual enrollment program at their local state or community colleges. Students take college classes in a college setting, and are treated like typical college students.
AP classes are offered by many public and private high schools, including Florida Virtual School.
Dual enrollment classes are typically taken online or on campus at a student’s local state or community college. However, some universities and high schools offer dual enrollment credit classes.
Prerequisites or minimum requirements to enroll in an AP class may differ by high school, but not all schools have requirements for qualification. FLVS has required course prerequisites that vary by AP class.
To qualify for dual enrollment, students must meet a GPA and SAT or ACT score requirement, set by the state and the college that is hosting the program. Students interested in either option should confer with their local high school or college for qualification requirements.
In an AP class, students must take the AP exam for that class to qualify for college credit. The exams are held in May and are typically hosted by the high school the student took the AP class at. FLVS students take the exams at their local public high schools.
Each exam contains a multiple choice and free-response essay question section. An overall score of three, four or five out of five must be achieved to receive college credit for the class. However, some universities will only grant college credit for an exam score of four or five. It is important to note that a student is not required to take an AP class before taking that class’ AP exam. Instead, some students “self-study” before taking the exam.
Dual enrollment students must receive a passing grade of C or better in a college class to receive college credit for that class. Some dual enrollment students are also able to obtain a general studies Associate of Arts degree while in high school.
The success rates of students who receive college credit for AP classes and dual enrollment classes vary by slightly more than half. According to a study conducted by the College Board, 94 percent of Florida students earn college credit via dual enrollment while only 41 percent of students earn college credit via AP classes.
Even if a student receives college credit via an AP class or dual enrollment class, some universities will not accept some or all college credits earned through either program. Students should check the credit transfer rules for each university they plan on applying to.
The subjects offered for AP classes include arts, English, history and social sciences, STEM, and world languages and cultures. Not all AP classes are available at some high schools; FLVS currently offers 15 out of 35 AP classes. AP classes typically last one semester, 16 weeks, or a full school year, 36 weeks. View a full course listing here.
Depending on the college, dual enrollment students can take nearly any college course offered, which allows for a wide array of options from accounting to theatre. Because they are college classes, each class is usually 16 weeks long. Students may take classes during the fall, spring and/or summer semesters. Maximum number of credit hours per semester varies by college.
While AP classes are typically free, there is a fee for each AP exam. A $30 fee reduction is provided by the College Board for low-income families. However, students who take an AP class on FLVS are exempt from the exam cost.
The tuition for dual enrollment classes is free for public school and homeschool students in Florida, but private school students may be required to pay a discounted rate or the full rate of tuition based on the school’s articulation agreement with each college. Public school students may receive fee waivers from their school for textbooks while homeschool and private school students are responsible for their textbook costs. However, all costs depend on each state, high school and college.
This post was written by Lauren M.