Why You Should Consider Taking College Courses in High School

 

When I was in high school, I took 2 summer school classes at the local community college. I wanted to get into a few honors courses and AP courses my junior and senior years, so I could get that bump in my GPA, particularly my Junior year and first semester of Senior year, since those are the transcripts college admission reps look at the most.

I never really thought anything about that those 2 college classes, until I met with an academic advisor to look over my graduation requirements, and realized that I had 6 more college units under my belt than I thought I did. Later on when I got Cal State Long Beach (Go Beach!) to accept my AP Physics score, it totaled 9 units. I did not sit for the AP Calculus test, but if I had, I would have passed it and picked up another 3 units.

Most people rely on AP classes alone to score college credit in high school, but  that can be a mistake. When I was in high school, the colleges I was looking to attend only took a 4s as passing grades for the AP exams (AP exams are graded on a scale of 1-5). I know plenty of people who took AP classes, only to have to retake them again in college.

This may not seem like a big deal, but 12 college units, are about the equivalent of a semester in college. Not only does this mean that you could graduate a full semester early, but it also means that you would not have to pay or take out college loans for a full semester of school. Depending on what school you plan to attend that can range from $3,000 to $5,000 at a state school, or $20,000 at a school like USC.

As an athlete looking to play football in College, it means that with the help of an academic advisor, you can offset your class loads during the season. Having several college courses under your belt, can give you the ability to take a lighter course load, or easier classes, and still graduate on time.

There are a few other benefits besides the cost and time savings when you’re in college.

Most importantly, they can help you break into the honors and AP tracks, which can be hard to get into, if you didn’t start there already. I remember that when I moved here from Mexico when I was in the 5th grade, and managed to miss all the honors tracks in Elementary School. That followed me through Middle School and then into High School. Honors and AP courses are important because they are worth more points and can help boost your GPA higher, which in turn can help you become a stronger applicant to the schools of your choice.

I always encourage kids to take some college classes, while in high school. If you’d like to get started, this is what I would suggest doing:

  1. Go, call, or log onto a local Junior College’s website.
  2. Check what the General Education requirements are for your State.
  3. Print them out, and take a copy to your academic counselor in high school.
  4. Double-dip. Find out which classes you can take, which will satisfy your high school credit, and a general education requirement.

In the 14 years since I since I started High School, the curriculum has changed pretty dramatically, but these are the classes I would pick from to take at a college during summer, and save myself time, money.  They’ll also let you pile on more fun electives in High School or have off periods, if you’re school allows them. Most of these will be 100 level courses (introductory), so they wont be that hard.

  1. English 100 (this class will help you do wonders on the essay portion of the SAT)
  2. US History
  3. World History
  4. Conceptual Physics or Astronomy (physical science requirements)
  5. College Algebra (used to be called Algebra 2)
  6. Geometry
  7. US Government
  8. Conceptual Biology or Chemistry (if your school will accept one without a lab requirement)
  9. Both foreign language courses (you’ll have to take them in High School and then in College again)
  10. Macroeconomics

 

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