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Should I select AP or DE courses?

When it comes to choosing between Advanced Placement (AP) and Dual Enrollment (DE) courses in high school, many students and parents are left wondering which option is the better choice. Both types of courses offer college-level material and the opportunity to earn college credit, but there are significant differences between them that may make one a better fit for certain students.

AP Courses: Pros and Cons

Advanced Placement courses are offered by the College Board and are designed to prepare high school students for college-level work. Students can take AP courses in a variety of subjects, including English, math, science, social studies, and world languages. At the end of each course, students can take an AP exam to earn college credit.

Pro: One advantage of AP courses is that they are widely recognized by colleges and universities. According to the College Board, over 90% of colleges and universities in the United States grant credit or advanced placement to students who score well on AP exams. This means that students who take AP courses and perform well on the exams can potentially save time and money in college by earning college credit.

Pro: Another advantage of AP courses is that they offer a standardized curriculum and assessment. This means that students across the country who take the same AP course are learning the same material and taking the same exam, which can help level the playing field when it comes to college admissions.

Con: One of the biggest drawbacks is that they can be expensive. Each AP exam costs at least $95 (with the prices constantly increasing), and many students take multiple exams. Additionally, some schools require students to pay fees for AP courses and materials, which can add up quickly. However, some school districts will pay the cost of a certain number of AP exams. Check with your guidance counselor or on your school district website to see how many are covered.

Con: Another potential drawback is that AP courses can be very challenging. They require a significant amount of time and effort outside of class, which can be difficult for students who are already busy with extracurricular activities or part-time jobs. Additionally, some students may not be interested in or suited for the standardized curriculum and assessment that AP courses offer.

DE Courses: Pros and Cons

Dual Enrollment courses, on the other hand, are college courses that are offered in partnership between high schools and colleges or universities. Students who take DE courses can earn both high school and college credit simultaneously.

Pro: One advantage of DE courses is that they offer a more authentic college experience than AP courses. Students are taking actual college courses with college professors and college-level expectations. This can give students a better idea of what college will be like and can help them prepare for the rigors of higher education.

Pro: Another advantage of DE courses is that they are typically less expensive than AP courses. In many cases, high schools cover the cost of tuition and materials for DE courses, so students do not have to pay out of pocket.

Con: One of the biggest drawbacks is that they may not be widely recognized by colleges and universities. While many colleges and universities do accept DE credits, there is no national standard for DE courses, so it can be difficult to know whether or not a specific college or university will accept them.

Con: Another potential drawback is that DE courses can be more difficult to access than AP courses. Not all high schools have partnerships with colleges or universities that offer DE courses, so students may need to travel to another location to take them. Additionally, some colleges and universities may have strict admission requirements for DE courses, such as minimum GPA or test score requirements.

Which Option Is Better?

Ultimately, the decision of whether to take AP or DE courses depends on a variety of factors, including the student's academic interests, goals, and schedule. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages, and it's important for students and parents to carefully consider their options before making a decision. For students who are interested in a standardized curriculum and assessment and who have the time and resources to invest in AP courses, we typically recommend it as it is more widely accepted by colleges and universities.

These are the types of questions we frequently discuss with our students through our college admissions. We encourage you learn more by signing up for one of our bootcamps, or setting up a consultation with us individually.


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