Which to choose: AP v. Dual Enrollment

Central High School offers many resources to help prepare their students for the future including the option to take Advanced Placement (AP) and Dual Enrollment classes. Both choices will set students up for college, but debates continue regarding which course is the best path and why.

As of the spring semester of the 2022-2023 school year, Central has 330 students taking AP classes and 202 students taking Dual Enrollment. With a total of 15 AP and 24 Dual Enrollment courses, around 500 students are taking advanced classes to help prepare themselves for their upcoming college career. But what class is best for you?

Mr. Sharp’s AP U.S. History class doing work

Juniors Maddie Harvey and Drew Bolton have taken both DE and AP courses. They both prefer Dual Enrollment over AP classes because they are doing college-level work with a professor. In addition, they don’t have to take a test at the end of the course in order to gain the extra five points on their final average.

Likewise, graduates Grace Cook and Charlie Bible say that Dual Enrollment was more beneficial than AP classes once they started attending college. Bible says, “[Dual Enrollment]…promotes independence and preparation for college.” Additionally, Cook explained that Dual Enrollment classes are capable of giving you support when you first attend college regarding class requirements.

Another aspect to consider is the way each course can provide college credit. Depending on the college, a student has to score a three or above on the AP exam in order to get college credit for an AP course. The unpredictability of AP credits can be intimidating for some students and can steer them away from taking the course altogether.

Similarly, Dual Enrollment credits also vary depending on what college you plan to attend. Most out-of-state colleges and some private in-state colleges do not accept high school Dual Enrollment credits. Additionally, a student may not know their class average until the end of the semester. Failing a Dual Enrollment course that is a graduation requirement can prevent a student from graduating. Like AP, the uncertainty can be a big factor to consider when choosing whether to take Dual Enrollment classes or not.

Student doing school work in the library

AP teachers Mrs. Andrea Turner and Mr. Daniel Sharp explain the benefits of taking AP classes. According to AP Language teacher Mrs. Turner, AP classes allow students to learn more skills than Dual Enrollment classes. Mr. Sharp confirms this when he says, “An AP class will make you think, it will make you work, and if you are interested at all in being successful in college or in the world competitively, you have to be able to do both of those.”

Several students and teachers agree that AP classes prepare you well for college and help you with time management skills. Bolton says, “Dual enrollment is self-paced while AP is fast-paced.” College work requires students to have the ability to complete work efficiently, on time, and independently. AP classes cause students to rely on their teachers for guidance, but Dual Enrollment is the opposite; you must do everything yourself.

The college and career counselor at Central, Ms. Terry Sharp, explains the neutral aspect of whether AP or Dual Enrollment is the best path to take. With different curriculum, both courses challenge students by exercising differing skill-sets. She says that students get so wrapped up in the future benefits instead of focusing on preparing for college. Ms. Sharp says, “Learning the discipline of learning is the benefit and I think that is getting lost.”

The competition between the two courses remains a continuous argument, taking away from the purpose behind these advanced classes– to prepare students for their future in the best way possible. Only you can decide how you choose to reach success.

Read more from The Bobcat Times:

Honors, AP, DE – The Path to Success Isn’t EZ

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