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TPS College (Dual Credit) Courses – Affordable Credits, Flexible Options
TPS offers college dual credit courses in a unique way that is advantageous for students. Our dual credit courses do not require college enrollment until later in the course, and then it is optional whether to enroll in the college course and pay for the college credits. A student may take the course as high school credit or dual credit, and may wait to decide until later in the course.
Taking some college courses in high school is becoming commonplace, particularly for independent (“home educated”) high school students. The presumed benefits include saving on college tuition and finishing college sooner. However, while dual credit has proven to be beneficial in some cases, it has not in others. TPS has gathered feedback over the years from many former students who entered college with one or more dual credit courses (community college, online courses directly from colleges, and TPS College dual credit). Their “lessons learned” and advice for upcoming students are summarized in this article.
What you should consider in choosing dual credit courses
As you investigate your dual credit options and then plan your dual credit courses, here are the primary considerations most frequently offered or affirmed by our former students:
- The college transcript is a more permanent record with more weight than a high school transcript. Don’t rush to take college credit courses without a good high school foundation in writing (for humanities and social studies college credit courses), math (for math and science college credit courses), and possibly statistics (for social studies college credit courses). Once you’re in the college course, no one will help you with the foundation you were supposed to have before you got there.
- In high school, take dual credit courses that are outside your intended college major — save your in-major credit courses for the college where you plan to get your degree. Your high school dual credits are more likely to be accepted and count toward something outside your major. You will be better prepared for upper-level courses in your major if you took the 100 and 200 level courses from the same school, same department, and even same professors.
- AP exam scores of 4 or 5 generally count for more credit and are more widely accepted than dual college credits in high school. AP exam scores are usually harder to earn than dual college credits in high school; colleges know this and so they respect the AP scores more and offer more credit for them. The most widely respected and accepted dual credit opportunity is the AP exam score of 4 or 5.
Questions to ask your college in choosing dual credit courses
Perhaps the most important dual credit feedback we hear from our alumni is that each student must map out his own best plan. Each college has its own policies and processes for how it accepts credits transferred in from outside the college. Therefore it is important that you research your specific potential colleges as far in advance as you can, including for choosing dual credit and AP courses. Here are key questions to ask:
- Will the credits transfer to the colleges you are considering? Check first. It is easy enough to find out in advance, so don’t wait until after you take the course to learn that your intended colleges don’t accept credits from your community college or another college’s online program.
- If the credits will transfer, what will they count toward? Again, check with your likely or potential college(s) first. You may find that your dual enrollment credits just expended your general (“Gen Ed”) and elective credits, still leaving all your required courses and leaving you less flexibility than if you had not taken the college credits in high school.
- Would I get more credit if I took the similar AP course and exam? AP courses and exams are usually harder than the dual credit college courses, so there are pros and cons to consider for AP vs dual credit. But in many cases, the AP exam (with a good AP course) be your best dual credit option.
Many students report that despite having multiple dual credit courses in high school, their final college tuition bill and total courses required to graduate were not reduced much if at all, simply because some of the dual credit courses they chose didn’t “count” for anything that actually reduced their college load.
Unique advantages for you of TPS College (dual credit) courses
- Pre-approved by Belhaven University for credit as Belhaven courses from the Belhaven course catalog. Students receive a standard Belhaven University transcript, not a hybrid or modified transcript.
- University level (university is higher accreditation than college) credits are generally more transferable (always check with your other colleges about any transfer of credit).
- Full-year live classes, not just semester courses, with all the academic content and value of both the high school and the college course.
- Live interactive classes with frequent teacher evaluation and feedback. (Students with time zone or scheduling conflicts may request to take TPS College dual credit courses partially or entirely by recording with live attendance and participation reduced or waived.)
- Dual credit optional. You don’t enroll in the university course (or pay for the college credits) until early in the second semester (another advantage of the full-year format), and then only if you choose to get the college credit. You may opt to just finish the course as a high school course with just the high school tuition and credit. (Note the exception that Belhaven High Scholars program requires fall dual enrollment with Belhaven.)
- Cost-effective. The college credit option adds a relatively small cost to the high school tuition, for a lower total cost than other dual credit or university courses.