I would be the first to say that given the opportunity to earn college credits before you graduate from high school is an opportunity worth pursuing. I believe there’s only an upside in high school students doing this.
This column will ask you to think through why you should or are taking these college-level credits in the first place. In other words, where can they fit into your professional game plan?
Many high schools allow certain college-level course work to satisfy some high school graduation requirements, as well as give you the opportunity to enter college with academic credits under your belt. College credit courses taken in Ohio (CCP-College Credit Plus) are subsidized by your school district as funding is available.
Be mindful that the CCP classes accepted by many colleges and universities may satisfy the course requirement, but you will not receive a letter grade for those classes unless they were taught by faculty at the institution you will be attending. Be sure to ask the college or university to which you apply how many CCP credit hours will be accepted and towards which course requirements in your major.
At some colleges that use a four-credit hour structure, you may be awarded three credits hours, which is the most popular offering to high school-level students. Your course may be accepted as satisfying the course requirement, but the one credit hour will still be needed to satisfy your graduation total credit requirement. Advanced Placement exams fall into the same category except you receive a ‘P/F’ for a passing/failing grade.
Many adult learners opt for College Level Practice Exams (CLEP), which like the other Advanced Placement exams issue a pass/fail mark rather than a letter grade. Wilmington College allows for CCP credit, CLEP and Advanced Placement exams to be calculated into a student’s grade point average and, as such, can impact qualification for Green Key Honor Society and Latin Academic Honors at Commencement.
Finally, the amount of college credits earned while in high school automatically accelerates your pursuit of earning your undergraduate or entry-level master’s degree program.
Here are some questions you should ask your high school guidance counselor so you are making informed decisions on your entire college experience: (1) Can I earn an associate degree while in high school? (2) Can the college from which I earned these credit hours offer me a Reverse Transfer Associate Degree when I start College at another institution? As a potential college student-athlete, what policies and bylaws must I consider regarding how many semesters and under what conditions can I participate in intercollegiate sports? Do I really want to spend fewer than four years earning my undergraduate degree, which would limit my total educational experience? How ready will I be emotionally and professionally if I graduate college in December rather than the following May? Will the graduate program or career opportunity I’m interested in pursuing be available in January following a December graduation?
My final bit of advice is the financial umbrella that makes your decisions a reality. Make sure you seek assistance from the college’s Financial Aid Office to plan out in partnership with your academic adviser as to how you remain eligible for all forms of aid, from your first semester through your college graduation.
Best wishes for your success!
Dennis M. Kelly, a nationally known enrollment administrator, has been presenting columns in the Wilmington News Journal on navigating the college search process as a service to local families. Kelly is the senior vice president for enrollment management at Wilmington College.