As the second semester is starting, students are choosing their schedules for next year. A big decision for sophomores and juniors is the choice of Dual Credit enrollment and Advance Placement (AP) classes. The two programs offer students the ability to earn college credit while they’re still in high school. Dual Credit classes are taken directly through the community college, so Timber Creek students would learn from a professor at Tarrant County College. Advance Placement classes are taught by Timber Creek High School teachers.
AP prepares students for an exam to prove their college readiness on the said subject to earn college credit whereas Dual Credit allows students to earn credit for high school and college at the same time.
The earliest a student can take a Dual Credit class at Timber Creek is their junior year of high school. To be able to take a Dual Credit class your senior year, you must have taken the prerequisite of English I or U.S. History through TCC your junior year. There is a mandatory prerequiste test, Texas Success Initiative, students must take to be admitted into Dual. (The next testing dates are Feb. 25, March 4, March 25 and April 1. Click here for more info.) Unlike AP, Dual does not offer an exam to receive college credit. If a student passes the Dual class with a C or higher, they receive both the high school and college credit.
“We don’t do any paper assignments. All of our work is done on computers which isn’t in an AP English classroom,” said Dual Credit English professor, Christopher Harold. “We do a lot of writing in Dual Credit. Tarrant County College requires 4,000 words a semester on papers. I try to push up to 12,000 words a semester, so students are prepared for a higher level four year college. I have previous students write me and say that they’re not intimidated with eight to 10 page papers in college. That’s what I try to aim for.”
Students can take an AP class as early as their freshman year at Timber Creek. There are various AP classes students are able to take, from Computer Science to Government, there is a college class for every student no matter their hopeful career path. There is no mandatory pre-test to step foot into an AP class, however the coursework is much more tedious for some students compared to Dual Credit.
“In a Dual Credit class, you’re doing your freshman [year of college] writing and your freshman literature classes,” said AP English III teacher, Britt Groters. “Dual Credit does move at a quick pace, so you do a lot of reading and writing just as you would in an AP class. Your AP classes you’re splitting your content between your junior year [of high school] and senior year. You’re doing more writing and your British literature study your senior year.”
Advance Placement classes also offer one more thing that is a deal breaker for some students on the edge of the two college options: a ten point curve on every AP class a student is in. The curve is put onto transcripts and it allows the college admissions to see it. Students cannot directly see the curve on Home Access. If you have an 80 in U.S. History, but it’s AP, that means it shows up on your transcript as a 90. This also sparks the competitiveness among students because this plays in effect with their class ranks.
Like most things, there are pitfalls to both.
The exam for students to earn college credit through College Board is a one time fee of $92. If a student does not pass the test, they will not be reimbursed for their money. This cost is heavy for some students especially students that are taking several AP tests in one year. Students may not earn a high enough score on their AP test making them unable to earn college credit at their college they choose to go to. A passing score on the AP exam ranges between a three to a five. Texas public colleges are required by law to accept a three or higher on the AP exam, but not all states have that law. Most colleges want a four or higher, especially if you are out of state student or trying to enroll in a private college, to show the mastery of said subject to receive college hours. College hours range from school to school as well as the score on the test.
“The amount of homework from an AP class should benefit us when we take the test, but many students get to the test unprepared,” commented junior Eric Albo. “Students focus so much about maintaining their grade in the AP class rather than preparing and studying for the actual exam. A majority of students who take AP classes are more hungry for the GPA boost rather than the material.”
Dual Credit may offer a transcript that proves they completed the course, but it may not be the transcript a college wants. Only Texas colleges will accept hours through a community college in Texas. Dual Credit is also more costly compared to an AP exam fee. A student will pay over $200 for their Dual Credit class. The Dual Credit system affects a students college grade point average whereas AP only affects a students high school GPA. Dual Credit requirements vary from state to state, so it’s wise for students to check with their counselor to see if they qualify.
“Taking a Dual Credit class, we get to pick our topics and write what we want instead of a teacher standing up there telling up what we need to do. It’s a self taught course. [Mr. Harold] tries to boost our creativity and mindset and things we take out of it,” commented junior Jayden Neal.
Whether a student gets an automatic credit through a Dual Credit, or credit by an AP exam, it’s financially beneficial to get as many credit hours as possible before they enter college. Dual Credit and AP prepare students for the college world to come.
“College level courses in a high school setting prepare students for the intense school work at a faster pace university whereas a regular high school course does not even compare to the course load of work,” commented sophomore Katelin Tran.