Crossfire: AP Classes vs. Dual Credit
April 5, 2019
In the AP Class, Practice Makes Perfect
AP classes are engaging and rigorous, revered by almost everyone as a challenge and an important preparation for college. Another, equally weighted type of class is called dual credit. For dual credit classes, students take a college course from Greenville Tech. Here is my two cents: ALWAYS TAKE AN AP CLASS OVER A DUAL CREDIT ONE. AP classes are offered at every grade level and in every subject. If a student learns the ways of the College Board early on, the classes are a breeze. APs come with unlimited resources that students can utilize to pass the exam and, in turn, earn college credit.
Since the exam is standardized, the material on the test is always presented in the same way. Archived AP free response questions are available on the internet for students to practice with. Often, weeks are spent in class spent solely reviewing for the exam, so students become acclimated to the wording they will see on test day. Dual credit students do not get this luxury. They do not have Khan Academy videos to reference before a test. It is a bleak world we are living in when high school students must pass a class without Sal Khan’s soothing voice and example problems.
The final grade that a student receives in an AP class has no effect on the possible college credit: it all depends on the exam. The final grade received in a dual credit class goes right on a college transcript. If students are concerned about starting college with a less-than-perfect grade point average, they are better off sticking to AP classes. Senior Noah Grashuis is currently taking AP Calculus AB. He remarked, “I like the challenge that it gives me. It makes me push myself to do the best that I can. I’m also a fan of the GPA bonus.” The students that take this particular AP math class, taught by Coach Hunter or Coach Large, consistently outperform the national average and the overwhelming majority pass the AP exam. This history of success is true of many other classes. There are plenty of other reasons why taking AP classes over dual credit is advantageous. For the sake of longevity, consistency, and sanity when reviewing for the exam, choose AP.
If this seems like the right path for you, here is some advice that I can offer. Before committing to taking a certain AP class, make sure to check out who teaches the class and look into how long they have taught it. First-year AP teachers generally have a low passing rate, but established teachers can ensure almost anyone a passing grade because of familiarity with the test and material. However, that is not always the case. Some exams are simply easier than others and may be passable with minimal guidance. If your goal is to pass all of your AP exams with flying colors, be careful which AP classes you choose to take. Along those lines, if English is your worst subject, you might want to stray away from AP Lit. Prestigious colleges love to see fives across the board, so if you want to present yourself as a competitive applicant, it is smart to think before choosing courses.
Dual Credit? More Like Cool Credit
The desire for challenging and career-focused classes has increased in high school students. AP classes are the first choice for many students entering high school, but dual credit classes are slowly growing. These college classes, run by Greenville Tech, are a great option for students looking to learn about real college classes and experience a similar workload.
Though weighted the same as a traditional AP class, dual credit classes are sometimes looked down upon, as if they are not as challenging or beneficial. This is simply not true. Junior Thomas Vernon is currently taking Marketing 101 and Management 101 with Mrs. Ellerbe and he previously took English 101 with Mrs. Benjamin. He said, “I think dual credit classes are super beneficial because they honestly prepare you for college. They show you how colleges run the show and it actually gives you the program 90% of colleges use. They also give the workload and time frames colleges do. I feel more prepared for college now then I would if I had only taken AP classes.” His time in both Ellerbe and Benjamin’s classes has impacted his view of college and his ability to handle the A-B schedule. The rigor of Ellerbe’s business classes is similar to those of a true college class.
One major perk of taking these classes is that they are only twice a week, occasionally three if there is a Friday class. This gives stressed students time to work on other classes and manage their time better. It also gives an advantage to students with jobs or students who play sports. Because traditional college classes run on an A-B schedule, these courses give students a true college experience. For students that are not great at taking tests, dual credit classes offer credit for anyone who passes above a C. In AP classes, however, students must pass a long, difficult exam and pass with a three to earn the class credit. These exams take months of studying and preparation and cause major stress in students lives. The payoff is not worth the months of pressure.
Though balance is always key, taking dual credit classes during high school can provide insight into college classes that AP courses sometimes cannot. As a busy student myself, I am so appreciative that my school offers dual credit classes. The time both inside and outside of class taught me important time management skills that I have used throughout my junior year. I believe that these classes improve one’s ability to manage time and are a perfect route for students ready to get college classes done early.