Should my homeschooler take an AP course, or opt for dual enrollment? What is the better option?
In recent years, it has become very popular among homeschooling parents to use the dual enrollment option for their high-school age learners. Some states even offer free enrollment at local community/junior colleges for high-school (and younger) participants. The obvious benefit is that taking (and passing) a dual enrollment course gives the student credit that can be counted towards their college degree. Earning credits via dual enrollment may also result in less time needed to graduate (with the added potential benefit of lower tuition costs!) Sounds simple enough, right?
Well, not exactly. Like everything else in life – the answer is a bit more complicated. There are specific issues with dual enrollment that parents need to consider:
Limited Course Selection: Dual enrollment programs typically offer a limited range of courses compared to AP programs. AP courses cover a wide variety of subjects, allowing students to explore diverse academic interests. In contrast, dual enrollment may have fewer course options available, limiting students’ choices.
Variation in Credit Transfer: The transferability of dual enrollment credits to college can vary significantly depending on the institution. Some colleges may not accept certain dual enrollment credits, while others may only accept them as elective credits rather than fulfilling core requirements. This lack of consistency can create uncertainty for students and potentially result in wasted effort.
College-level Rigor: While dual enrollment courses provide college credit, they may not always match the rigor and depth of an actual college course. AP courses are designed to emulate the content and expectations of college-level courses more closely, providing students with a more rigorous academic experience that may better prepare them for future challenges.
Taking an AP course isn’t just about “checking the box” in order to earn college credit; it’s also about learning the skills and strategies one will need in order to succeed both academically and professionally. Time management, detailed analysis, problem-solving, and creative interpretation are just a few examples that come to mind.
Also, keep in mind that AP does stand for “advanced placement” – in other words, earning a score of 4 (or 5) demonstrates that the student has mastered the subject to a point where they do not have to bother with taking introductory coursework, and can proceed with advanced college courses upon enrollment, allowing them to take on internships or earn a double major. Some colleges will even offer extra college credits for students who earn 4 or 5 on their AP exams.
You can find out more about this on the College Board’s website, under “Getting Credit and Placement”: https://apstudents.collegeboard.org/getting-credit-placement
Jonathan Meola, our co-founder, attended the University of Miami, where he earned his B.A., and returned several years later to earn a graduate certification in Applied Quality Management, while helping to manage executive graduate degree programs for their business and engineering schools. Professionally, Jonathan has worked as a technical consultant, managing enterprise software implementation projects for companies such as AT&T, Boeing, Discovery, Honda, Nestle, and several Federal agencies across the United States, and also worked on projects in Canada, Israel, and Mexico. He also has developed curricula for corporate training, and led sessions as an instructor on many occasions. Today, he resides with Eva in South Florida, and teaches courses online (including AP & Honors) at Open Tent Academy. In his spare time, he loves traveling, reading, photography, analyzing politics, NCAA college football (Go Canes!), and cinema.