Can You Earn College Credits from High School AP Classes

white paper which says why take AP classes with arrows pointing to challenge yourself, earn college credit, and, experience college-level work

Advanced Placement (AP) classes are college-level classes that can be taken during high school. Many high schools offer AP classes in a variety of subjects. AP classes are typically more complicated and require more work than the usual high school classes.

The advanced placement program was developed by the College Board. The College Board created a series of classes that offer college-level coursework. This allows high school students to experience college-level courses prior to going to college and AP courses can be redeemed for college credit at some colleges.

Why Do Students Take AP Classes

There are many reasons why high school students take AP classes. Most high school students take AP courses to improve their chances of admission to universities. Some colleges and universities believe that taking AP classes and getting good grades in those classes demonstrate a student is prepared for college. College admissions professionals like to see students that have challenged themselves. Colleges may also take AP classes into consideration when awarding scholarship money.

Additionally, high school students want the opportunity to earn college credits before they start college. AP courses are free. Therefore, AP classes allow students to save money on tuition costs by earning college credits before they get there.

How Do AP Classes Work

AP courses require passing an AP exam at the end of the class to gain college credit. AP exams are cumulative. They test the student’s knowledge of everything taught throughout the AP class. AP exams are scored on a scale from 1 to 5 with 3 and above considered passing. Although there are some schools that only accept grades 4’s and 5’s for credit.

Many high schools give extra weight to AP classes. This is a way to improve your overall high school GPA. Therefore, at most high schools, getting a B in an AP class is better than getting an A in a regular high school class.

Each college and university decide whether they will accept AP classes for college credit. They also decide which AP courses they will accept or not. It can be difficult for high school students to determine which AP classes may count as credit depending on what colleges they are planning on applying to. It’s important to understand that you may or may not receive college credit for your AP courses. College credit is not a guarantee.

Impact of Stress

High school students are very busy. Their life is demanding and full of responsibilities. Between classes, assignments, family, friends, sports, school activities, clubs, and work, they have very hectic schedules that can bring an immense amount of pressure. Add the addition of AP classes on top of everything and it’s not uncommon for students to become chronically stressed. 

Stress is the body’s way of responding to anxiety and pressure. Some students may be more vulnerable to the effects of stress on the body and more susceptible to complications from it. Stress can affect the body in several different ways, physically, mentally, and behaviorally. 

Chronic stress has major impacts on the body and can trigger several reactions and complications. Things like burnout, depression, physical illness, and self-esteem issues. It’s important to not overextend yourself and add too much to your already busy schedule.

Male student sitting at a desk in a classroom taking a AP high school class

Are AP Classes Worth It

Now that you know why you may want to take AP classes and how they work, you may still be questioning are AP courses worth it. The answer to this question will be different for each student. AP classes aren’t the only way for a student to demonstrate that they should be admitted to a specific college or university. College admissions officers also consider extracurricular activities and community involvement.

AP courses are only worth it if you are able to do well in them and they don’t hurt you in other ways. Since AP classes are weighted more than regular high school classes, getting a B in an AP class may be better than getting an A in a regular class. However, getting a C or D in an AP class could hurt you more than not having taken any AP classes at all. If you are a student that wants the challenge and feel confident taking AP classes, then you should take it.

Personally, I did not take AP classes. I took a different route to challenge myself academically and earn college credits while I was in high school. This is an option for many high school students as well and I suggest all high school students consider it.

Another Option: Concurrent or Dual Enrollment

I was able to start college at such a young age through a concurrent enrollment program. Concurrent enrollment allows students to enroll in college courses while simultaneously attending high school. All you need is permission from a teacher, counselor, or principal. The credits earned may be used to fulfill high school and college graduation requirements.

Concurrent enrollment was how I started college at 13 and graduated with my MBA at 20. Concurrent enrollment puts you on an accelerated academic path and is my number one recommendation. It is the fastest way to earn a college degree in the shortest amount of time for anyone going into high school or still in high school. The Benefits Of High School Concurrent Enrollment, has a wealth of information. I share exactly how I utilized concurrent enrollment to graduate high school and college early.

Both, concurrent and dual enrollment are great for high school and homeschool students looking to get a head start in college and graduate high school early. In each program, you can earn high school credits needed to graduate, along with college credits. You can apply the college credits earned to a degree or certificate or to transfer to a 4-year university.

This article will explain a little more about Concurrent and Dual Enrollment, What Are The Differences Between Concurrent and Dual Enrollment.

The Difference Between College-Level and College Courses

AP classes are college-level courses, but they are not college courses. There is a big difference. There is a possibility that some colleges may not give college credit for some AP courses. The classes I took through a concurrent enrollment program were college courses done at a college (my local community college). I received high school and college credits for them.

Often it is easier to know whether community college credits will be accepted to fulfill college requirements than AP classes. If given the choice I recommend taking the community college class over the AP class as it is a guaranteed college class. AP courses may demonstrate that a student is prepared for college-level work. But concurrent enrollment and dual enrollment prove that a student is already at a college level.