Benefits of Earning College Credits in High School

 
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High school students often have a natural hesitancy to make a final decision about where to go to college and what to study when they get there. However, high school students should have no hesitancy at all about starting college immediately!

No, it’s not time to move into a college dorm with junior prom still a long way off, but it is time to start earning college credits while still in high school. Virtually all high schools today have multiple ways to earn college credits early, and taking advantage of the opportunities available makes sense in all kinds of ways. Here are some big reasons to get started as soon as possible.

Save Money

The cost of college credits can vary widely, from an average of over $1,000 at a four-year private university to less than $150 at a two-year college, with an overall average cost of about $600 per credit (source: studentloanhero.com). Wherever you plan to attend college, there will be high costs for the credits you earn.

While earning college credits while still in high school may have some costs associated with it, they are mainly incidental charges (such as a fee to take an advanced placement test) compared with the cost of paying tuition at a two or four-year college. Simply put, college credits you earn in high school are credits you don’t have to pay for once you enroll in college. This can amount to thousands of dollars of savings and much lower after-college debt.

Finish On Time

Time is money! One of the reasons for high college costs and student loan debt is the time it takes to complete a degree. Many college students struggle to finish their bachelor’s degree in four years, and even at community and technical colleges, many students take longer than two years to earn an associate degree.

It is possible to earn enough college credits while still in high school to finish college a semester or two early, maximizing savings. However, in most cases, even students with a lot of college credits earned in high school will find it difficult to cut semesters off their time in college. However, earning credits early can go a long way toward ensuring that you finish your degree in the expected time instead of having to stay in school longer.

The strategy also allows college students to reduce their stress levels. Having a lot of credits in the bank can mean scheduling a lighter load each semester.

Ease into College Studies

Just to be clear, earning college credit while still in high school is exactly that. You don’t earn college credit by taking a high school class. It doesn’t work that way. To pass college classes taught in high school, you must demonstrate the same competencies as college students. The curriculum must match that of a college-level class, and the teacher must have credentials acceptable for teaching a college-level class.

Earning those first college credits in a high school setting enables you to learn not only advanced material, but also how well you are able to handle the additional rigor of college-level studies. Issues like time management, and balancing studies with social and family life will become larger issues. Starting college studies early helps smooth the transition to college life.

Improve College Admission Chances

Colleges take many factors into consideration when deciding on admission of an applicant. You may have solid high school grades and a good score on a college admissions test, but so do a lot of other people applying. If you are hoping for admission to a college or program where standards are high and competition is fierce, having already earned college credits can make a big difference. It shows not only your strong abilities, but initiative and good planning. Your application could go to the top of the pile.

How to Begin

Talk to your high school guidance counselor about the college credit programs available in your school. College credits can be earned while still in high school in a variety of ways. Here are some of the most common:

Advanced Placement – Students gain college credit by achieving a sufficient score on a test taken after completion of the class.

Start College Now In Wisconsin, students can take classes at a postsecondary institution and also obtain high school credit if the class is approved by the local school board.

Dual CreditAlso known as “transcripted credit,” a student earns both high school and college credit automatically on passing the class, with the college credits entered on a transcript at the sponsoring post-secondary school.

High School Academies A form of Dual Credit, students take a cluster of classes in a single subject area for both high school and college credit, sometimes also earning an industry-recognized certificate.

Find out what programs your school offers and get started on your college education early!

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