Can we please dispense with the fiction that Advanced Placement courses in any way resemble college courses? Because that’s what it is—a fiction, carefully crafted by the College Board to promote its AP franchise to the detriment of other, better options. Specifically, I’m talking about dual enrollment, a program in many states that allows qualified high-school seniors (and in some cases, juniors) to take actual college courses. Typically those courses count for both high-school and college credit, and are directly transferable into the state-university system (and often beyond). In many states, like mine, tuition and fees for dual-enrollment students are minimal.
I speak as someone who has had a great deal of experience with both AP and DE. As a college administrator and professor, I’ve dealt with hundreds of students who had, or were seeking, AP credit. I’ve also taught hundreds (probably well over 1,000) dual-enrollment students.
Moreover, as a parent, I have four children who have all taken at least one AP course (the youngest is a ninth-grader currently taking AP “HUG,” or human geography), and I am now on my third dual-enrollment student. My two older kids each earned a full year of college credit while dually enrolled, which served them well, as my daughter went on to graduate from a private liberal-arts college in three years and my son (fingers crossed) appears poised to do the same.
I might add that this has also served our family well, considering the price tag for a year at a private liberal-arts college.
Anecdotally speaking, all three of my kids have found dual enrollment to be far superior as an educational experience to taking AP courses in high school. It’s not that AP courses are bad. As high-school courses go, they’re well above average because they usually have the best teachers and the best students. But the point is, they’re high-school classes, not college classes. (Read more.)