According to the U.S. Department of Education (PDF), 27% of high school students participated in college-level course work during the 2014-2015 school year. This means that high school students are getting a jump start on earning college credit hours while pursuing a high school diploma.
Want to learn how you can get a head start on credit hours? Here are five ways to jump-start your college career and earn credit early — just keep in mind that every college varies when it comes to what credits they will accept.
Advanced Placement Courses (AP Courses)
AP courses are college-level classes offered in high school that are designed by the College Board, the same company that makes the SAT. In order to receive college credit, a student must complete the course and receive a high score, generally a three or higher, on the AP exam. While the classes may be included in your high school course load, the AP exam will cost $94.
International Baccalaureate (IB) Program
The IB program provides a global perspective curriculum for students and is recognized by 1,663 universities. In order to receive credit, students must enroll in an accredited IB program school. Like AP courses, students must score high enough on the IB exam or complete the IB diploma program for college credit. Fees for enrollment and exams vary, depending on the school and program.
College-Level Examination Program (CLEP)
Rather than enrolling in a course, CLEP gives you the option to test out of entry-level college courses and receive college credit. Students can choose from any of the 33 subject exams, each costing $85. More than 2,900 institutions accept credits from CLEP. Credits are awarded depending on exam scores.
Dual enrollment allows students to take college courses while pursuing a high school diploma. Typically open to high school juniors and seniors, classes may be taught in the high school by accredited teachers or at a nearby college. The cost of dual enrollment can vary and is usually priced per college course. A school counselor can help determine the right balance of courses and suggest nearby programs.
Early college programs are specialized high schools that allow students to graduate with a high school diploma and an associate’s degree within 4–5 years. Early college programs typically partner with a specific college and are often located on or near college campuses. The program typically dedicates the first two years to high school learning and focuses on postsecondary (college-level learning) for the remaining years.