By Drew Luther, Hidden Valley High School
As students pile on Advanced Placement and Dual Enrollment classes, one has to wonder whether it will do them any good in the end.
These classes are set up in a way that students can get college credit for classes they take during high school. This can help defray the cost of college, since some classes required to get a college degree are able be taken while a student is still attending high school.
According to Elizabeth Wilmer, Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs at Virginia Western Community College (VWCC), each school chooses its own cost for Dual Enrollment classes, but a majority of fees are less than what it would cost to take the class at Virginia Western as a college student.
In fact, according to a letter given to all Hidden Valley High students in March, Dual Enrollment classes for the 2013-2014 school year will be offered free of charge. This letter was signed by Ken Nicely, the Director of Secondary Instruction and Technology for Roanoke County Public Schools.
Dual enrollment courses are often run through community colleges. For example, the dual enrollment courses offered at Roanoke County Schools are run by Virginia Western. The classes are taught by the college’s approved teachers and have the same class objectives as the courses at VWCC.
These courses give college credit for passing with a grade of a ‘C,’ which can help students who may not score highly on the AP exam. But Wilmer says to be cautious.
“A student should only take a Dual Enrollment course if he or she feels academically prepared for it,” Wilmer said.
Advanced Placement (AP) classes are run through College Board, a non-profit membership organization.
These classes are considered more rigorous and students are required to take an exam at the end of the year. These AP Exams include information taught during the entire school year, and the scores of these exams decide whether or not the student will receive college credit for the course.
However, a problem can occur when a college counts separate AP classes as one. This differs between colleges. Advanced placement U.S. history and world history classes are offered at Roanoke Schools.
But according to the University of Virginia’s AP exam credit site, the school counts the credits from both classes as satisfying the same course requirement.
On the other hand, according to Virginia Tech’s AP credit equivalency chart on their website, the school accepts these credits as satisfying two class requirements: U.S. history and world history, respectively.
For the high school classes, credits for AP English 11 and English 12, count for two different class requirements in high school, but as the same class requirement in college credit at Virginia Tech.
The differences between college credit equivalency occur because separate departments choose which credits count for which classes.
Linda Bailey, assistant registrar at Virginia Tech said each department head looks at the AP exam for different courses to see what the tests cover. Then they decide which classes will match up with their own requirements. These decisions can also change from year to year.
All in all college credit during high school can save college-minded teenagers money and time, but it should only be done if students are ready for a rigorous course load.