How to Decide Between AP & Dual Enrollment Courses

The landscape of advanced classes high school students have available to them is a great opportunity, but it can also be confusing trying to decide which option is best for your future. Choosing between regular high school courses, honors classes, AP classes & dual enrollment classes at a community college can be confusing. One of the most frequent questions college-bound high school students ask is whether colleges prefer AP or dual enrollment. 

What’s the difference between AP classes & dual enrollment courses?

Advanced Placement (AP) classes

AP courses are reviewed and approved by college faculty to ensure a standard that all students who take AP classes are doing college-level work, no matter where the course is offered. AP Exams taken at the end of every AP class are a standardized way to measure a student’s mastery of the college-level subject matter. Since colleges across the country know & implement this standard, many colleges offer college credit for advanced placement students with AP scores of 3 or higher. 

Dual enrollment classes

Since dual enrollment programs don’t offer a set standard to measure whether students have truly mastered college-level school work, it’s difficult for college officials to know the quality or rigor level of dual enrollment courses from other colleges. This can sometimes result in students receiving no college credit for their work unless they plan to attend the same college it was offered. When counted, these courses will count towards high school and college credit. However, in some cases, it will only count towards your high school GPA and not your college GPA.

Is dual enrollment harder than AP?

Whether dual enrollment is harder than AP classes or not wildly depends on the subject, teacher, and college administering the dual enrollment course. Dual enrollment classes have no standardization nationwide which results in various degrees of quality and rigor among the courses. You may find some dual enrollment courses are more difficult than AP classes, while the opposite may be true as well.

Does dual enrollment look good on college applications?

Dual enrollment programs can provide a unique, challenging, and rewarding experience to high school students and can sometimes even be applied towards college credit & GPA. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Due to the lack of standards involved with dual enrollment classes, many colleges might not consider competing colleges’ courses to be equivalent in content & difficulty to the same courses they teach on their own campuses. 

Do Ivy League schools accept dual enrollment?

The majority of Ivy League schools do NOT accept dual enrollment credits under any circumstances.

Harvard University: NO. 

“Students who have completed one full-time year of college in a regular degree program in lieu of their senior year of high school (often referred to as dual enrollment) should apply for first-year admission if these courses are taken for credit towards a high school diploma.” Continue reading on Harvard website

Princeton University: NO.

“Princeton does not offer credit toward degree requirements for college or university courses taken before you enroll.” Continue reading on the Princeton website

Yale University: NO.

“Any college credits earned prior to high school graduation will not be evaluated as transferable credit.” Continue reading on the Yale website

Brown University: NO. 

“Brown will not award transfer credit for correspondence courses, online courses, courses taken during summer programs or for courses taken as part of a dual enrollment curriculum.” Continue reading on on the Brown website

Columbia University: NO. 

“Entering first-year students are not granted credit for college courses taken before graduation from secondary school.” Continue reading on the Columbia website

University of Pennsylvania: NO. 

“Credit is not awarded for college-level coursework undertaken at other institutions while a student is enrolled in high school or in the summer after high school.” Continue reading on the University of Pennsylvania website

Dartmouth College: NO.

“Courses offered by accredited four year degree-granting institutions are potentially acceptable for transfer credit provided the courses are an integral part of an officially defined undergraduate Arts and Sciences curriculum; those given by extension programs, junior or community colleges or internship programs are not transferable.”  Continue reading on the Dartmouth website

Cornell University: Probably not. 

“The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Cornell University reserve the right to determine, in their sole discretion, whether course credit earned at other schools, either secondary or post-secondary, meet the College’s and the University’s academic standards and will, therefore, be eligible to be applied toward Cornell degree requirements.” Continue reading on the Cornell website

Is it better to do dual enrollment or AP classes?

Due to the nature of uncertainty that comes with taking a dual enrollment course, most college-bound high schoolers choose AP courses over dual enrollment. Wisconsin students may not receive college credit or college GPA when taking dual enrollment classes due to non-standardization of these kinds of programs across colleges. High school students will have a higher chance of receiving college credit from their hard work when taking AP classes.