Dual enrollment classes, where students take college classes while still in high school, are often considered great options. And for some students they can be a good choice. But, there is a real downside to these classes as well.
So what is the problem? Students often take college classes instead of available AP classes at their high schools. The problem with that is that many of these college courses are being taken at local community colleges. Now community college classes can be just fine. However, most four year colleges outside the area around the community college don’t know what the quality of the education is like.
Is an “A” at the community college a good grade or something that everyone gets? The four year college in the next state over has no idea how to interpret the community college grade.
AP tests on the other hand are standardized. A student taking the AP Chemistry test in Ohio is taking the same test as the student in Florida. Colleges can look at these AP test scores and compare the Ohio student with the Florida student.
For most students, particularly high achieving students that are considering attending college outside their local area, taking an AP class is preferable to taking a college class at a local community college.
Now, if you don’t have an AP class available to you, taking a college class can be helpful. Or if you have exhausted all of the classes at your high school, then look at taking a college class. But don’t make the mistake of taking a college level class if you still have AP classes you can take at your local high school.