Earning Concurrent College Credit
Many colleges allow students to take college classes while they are still in high school. This is called “concurrent enrollment.” Certain admission requirements will exist, and this may or may not be an option for you, depending on the college(s) near you and your academic credentials. It’s likely you’ll have to gain approval from both your high school and your parents/family in order to enroll concurrently. Also, there will probably be limitations on how many classes you can take at any one time, and you may have to take a placement test to ensure you are ready for a particular class.
Concurrent enrollment is particularly appropriate when your high school is unable to offer specific subjects you would like to (or need to) study, or when you have a need for more advanced courses in a particular subject. For example, if you plan to pursue a career in the health professions, and your high school doesn’t offer anatomy, or if you plan to become an engineer, and there are not enough students in your school who want/need to take calculus. These are excellent reasons to take classes concurrently. Other subjects that are appropriate choices for concurrent classes are “general education” courses like American History or Psychology, and ones you are very good at or have taken all that your high school offers, like English or foreign languages.
By taking college classes concurrently, you will be easing yourself into both the financial (tuition, books, parking fees, etc.) and academic (studying, attending class, college tests, interacting with faculty, etc.) sides of college, and accelerate college graduation at the same time. Even the financial part could be minimal, as some schools (even some states!) have worked out tuition discounts and/or scholarships for concurrent students! Although you should double check with the schools you are considering, concurrent credits are also unlikely to work against you being considered a freshman for scholarship purposes – even a LOT of credits. . .
One caution I would add is about poor performance in concurrent classes… Although I’m certain no one reading this report expects that to be a problem, rest assured some of you will have difficulty for one reason or another and, unless you’re careful, could start off college on the wrong foot. It is usually possible to drop college classes until very late in the semester, so make yourself aware of the deadline to drop your classes, just in case you have trouble. You are required to submit ALL college transcripts to each college to which you apply, so you can’t just decide not to transfer bad grades you made while you were in high school.
Personally, I would specifically advise against taking only Senior English at your high school and then be off-campus for the rest of your Senior schedule. If that looks like it will be a possibility, I would suggest starting concurrent classes in your Junior year, and save some more courses at high school for the senior year. While I am in favor of taking classes concurrently, I am not suggesting you bypass the last part of high school, or even that you hurry to take college classes. I feel very strongly that the high school experience is very important to your development, and you shouldn’t rush to get out. In addition, it can be difficult to be successful in both high school and college courses at the same time, and you don’t want a good grade in one to come at the expense of the other. Counselors, teachers and parents/family are good resources in helping you decide if it’s right for you.
Even if you don’t qualify to take courses concurrently and aren’t able to test out of any classes, you could still take classes at a community college during the summer before college, and reap some of the same benefits.
Special thanks to Linda Owens for her help on this material (Credit by Examination and Concurrent College Credit)!
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