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Should Your Child Take AP Courses in High School?

Your child is a star student and the high school teachers have recommended him for AP classes. Initially this sounds great-college credit for high school work if they pass the exam. However, taking Advanced Placement courses may not be in your child's best interest. Sometimes, dual enrollment at the local community college makes more sense.

Pros of AP Courses
College bound high school juniors and seniors are eligible for AP courses. Underclassmen can take them too, but it is highly unlikely that they will meet the prerequisites that most public high schools have. Students who take Advanced Placement courses and take the exam receive some college credit for the high school course providing they score at least a 3 on the exam.

Taking harder courses always looks good on college applications. AP courses are weighted so having an A average in an Advance Placement Biology class adds more than 4.0 to the students overall GPA (grade point average).

Cons of Advanced Placement Courses

A downside exists to taking advanced classes. Although the student earns college credit for the course, it is up to the individual college to determine how much credit will be given. If a child receives a score that is less than 3 on the AP exam, they are not eligible for college credit, but they still receive high school credit.

You pay a fee to take the AP exam. Parents are responsible for paying the fees. Most public school systems do not have the funds to pay for your child to take the exam.

Even if a student takes an Advance Placement course and scores well on the exam, they may be required to take a similar course in college. It depends on their field of study.

Other Options

Another way for students to earn college credit while in high school is through a program called dual enrollment. Many areas allow high school students to dual enroll in a local community college or university if they meet a certain GPA requirement. Dual enrollment has advantages over AP courses.

Full college credit is given to college courses taken by students who dual enroll. As long as they maintain the required GPA in the course, the college will give full credit. Many school districts have agreements that allow academically eligible students to take college courses on campus for free or at a greatly reduced tuition rate. Students who dual enroll as juniors may be able to enter college with a full semester of college already completed.

Homeschoolers can take AP courses. Parents should check with the College Board and local high school or college to see which exams are offered. The exam fees, registration, and any travel expenses are the responsibility of the homeschool parent.

Although your child may take an AP exam and they score well, you cannot call the course an AP course on high school transcripts unless the coursework taken is through an approved AP class or you submit the coursework to the College Board for approval.

Free AP level courses are available for homeschoolers from They offer a good selection of courses for homeschoolers.

Home school students can also dual enroll in college courses. There are limits to how many courses a dual enrolled child can take at a college. This is a great way to prove that your homeschooled child can handle college level work.

Deciding to take AP courses is a big decision. Parents and students should weight their options carefully and determine the best options for their child.

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