Taking College Courses in High School

By Binyamin Weinreich

Many students nowadays are presented with a wide range of classes to take. Some are even given the opportunity to take college or college-level courses, such as the Advanced Placement (AP) exam, while still in high school. But is this an opportunity worth seizing? After all, it might be better not to push a high school student too hard and leave the college-level work to the students already in college. But research has shown that taking college courses while in high school has many benefits to students and their families, whether by taking classes at the local community college or taking college courses online. It accustoms students to the workload they’ll face in college, can help them get an early start on building a career, and can save a family thousands of dollars in tuition.

Skip the Adjustment Period

One of the most jarring adjustments that students have to make upon entering college is the increased level of performance demanded of them. College courses are more time intensive than high school courses, both inside of class and outside, and require a higher level of critical thinking and writing skills of students who wish to do well. By taking an AP course online or a dual enrollment course, students can get a taste of what college level work is like, thereby sparing themselves the adjustment period once they are actually enrolled in college.

Take More Classes that Interest You

Getting an early start on required college courses also means that students who go into college already having fulfilled some of their core requirements will be able to spend more time pursuing electives and extra-curricular interests that appeal to them, allowing them to spend their precious four years in college studying subjects that interest them and expand their horizons.

Finish College Sooner

Going into college with core requirements already fulfilled also opens up the option of spending less than four years in college. Although nowadays many students take five or more years to finish a four-year degree[1], students who have taken college courses before entering college tend to graduate earlier than their peers. This gives them the advantage of being able to start their careers earlier, providing an edge in working experience over those in the same age group, and an extra year’s earnings, even for students who intend to go on to graduate school.


[1] "HigherEdInfo.org." HigherEdInfo.org: Welcome. Web. 17 July 2011.

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