Wednesday, March 7, 2018

AP/IB vs DE Courses-the Pros and Cons

Every year, one of the most asked questions for UGA Admissions concerns whether students should take Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate courses or Dual Enrollment courses. As you can guess, our standard reply is "It Depends". This is not a cop out answer, but rather it is based on the student's actual situation. What courses are available at the high school? What options does the student have with colleges in their community? What is the course preparation leading up to these classes, and what is the student ready for academically? What future colleges is the student considering, and what are these colleges credit policies on AP/IB/DE work? As you can guess, this is not always our most popular answer (right up there with the parental favorite "Because I said so."). This is my attempt at giving you the potential positives and negatives of each choice.

AP and IB Coursework

Potential Positives

  • Most colleges around the US will give credit for strong test scores on either AP or IB exams, with limitations set by each college. 
  • AP and IB coursework is consistent worldwide, so the student, the school and the college all know what is expected. Yes, there are variations based on schools and teachers, but the curriculum is standardized.
  • AP and IB students are able to get an idea of the level of work needed for a college-level class while still in a high school course.
  • Taking AP/IB courses in your high school allows a student to remain active in high school activities and events, as they stay on their HS campus.
  • AP and IB students are in classes with other people who are looking to really challenge themselves in their coursework and in class interactions/projects.
Potential Negatives
  • Obtaining college credit for AP/IB exams is not consistent nationwide, and there is the potential to not receive any credit for a lower exam score.
  • At times, there are limitations on the variety of AP/IB courses offered at a high school.
  • There is a cost associated with AP/IB exams, which while not huge, can still be daunting for some students and families.

Dual Enrollment Coursework

Potential Positives
  • The availability of dual enrollment options is very widespread, and this is especially important for students who attend a high school with no AP/IB courses. In addition, the wide range of courses offered for dual enrollment students at each college is great.
  • If you pass a DE course, a majority of public colleges (and some private ones) will award you credit for the courses.
  • For students in some states, the cost of a dual enrollment course is minimal.
  • If you are attending dual enrollment courses at a local college, you are in class with true college students, which allows DE students a chance to both see and learn from this experience. Students also are able to get an idea of the level of work needed for a college-level class.
Potential Negatives
  • The consistency of dual enrollment colleges and courses varies greatly, so make sure you choose locations and courses which will prepare you for upper level major courses at your potential future colleges.
  • A number of very competitive colleges might not accept dual enrollment coursework, and it varies depending on whether the DE course is taught on the college campus or on in the high school (HS campus DE is sometimes referred to as Concurrent Enrollment by colleges).
  • Dual Enrollment courses will remain on your permanent record, so if you are looking at graduate school programs or if you really struggle in a DE class, this could be an issue. When UGA calculates an overall college GPA, DE work is a part of this calculation.
I hope this has answered some questions for you, or at least stimulated some questions. Please know that this is not a full or exhaustive list of the pros and cons for each, as each individual situation brings its own unique pluses and minuses. In the end, admissions offices cannot recommend what you should take, as this should be determined after a meeting with the student, the parents and a school official.

Good luck, and Go Dawgs!

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