5 Ways to Earn College Credits in High School

Who says you have to wait for your first year of college to get a start on your degree? You can get a head start on your college credits while still in high school!

We’ll cover just five in this article but there may be additional options available to you depending on where you are going to high school! These just tend to be the most popular. Here are five ways to earn college credits in high school.

Student studying to earn college credits in high school.

5 Ways to Earn College Credits in High School

1. Advanced Placement Courses

Advanced placement classes, also known as AP, are courses on just about any subject of your choice. Depending on your grades, you could be offered the opportunity of taking these in your sophomore year. The classes are rigorous and can be extremely tough for some students. An AP test is given at the end of the year that is graded on a 1-5 scale, with a 3 being a pass.

Note: You do not actually have to take the class to take the AP class! Though, it is recommended.

Students can save a lot of money by taking these, though! An AP test is $93 through College Board while the average cost of a class in college is over $1,500!

Will AP Credits Transfer to College?

A majority of colleges do accept AP classes, but it will vary from school to school.

However, completing the class isn’t just enough to earn the credits – students have to take the test at the end of the school year. Colleges usually only accept a 4 or a 5 in order to count towards that particular class. A 3, although it is a “pass,” would only count as an elective.

So if you took AP Psychology and scored a 4, this would likely be used in place of Psychology 101 at the college. If you scored a 3, you’d still earn 3 credits, but they would just be general elective credits. A 1 or a 2 is a fail and no credit is received.

2. Dual Enrollment

These types of classes can go by different names depending on your high school. Some simply call them “101” or “102” while others know them as “dual enrollment.”

The idea is the same though. The high school is enrolled in a program through a local college such as a community college. The students can then participate in the program and take college classes either at the high school or at the college itself with other students from their school. Like AP classes, these can be available in a wide variety of subjects and can seriously help you knock out general education requirements, allowing you to get started on your major faster.

Will Dual Enrollment Credits Transfer to College?

Whether or not a college will accept dual enrollment credits really depends on the school in question. Some schools may approve it as a 1:1 credit (You took College English 101 and you received College English 101 credit). Others may only accept it as an elective. A few may not accept it at all. And some colleges will only accept credits from select schools, not all.

If you’re curious as to whether or not your dual enrollment credits will transfer, make sure to reach out to the college’s admission department beforehand. You could even do this legwork before you’re applying to colleges as it can impact the schools you want to apply to.

3. College Level Examination Program

The College Level Examination Program, or CLEP Exams, do not have a class associated with them. Instead of a class, you simply take a test!

Also offered by the College Board, a CLEP Exam is $87. They’re available in over 30 different subjects, but since there is no class, students are responsible for preparing on their own. This can be done through study, tutoring, study guides, or other methods. Or you could have previously taken a tough class on the subject and think you can easily pass a CLEP Exam on the topic!

Will CLEP Exam Credits Transfer to College?

Nearly 3,000 schools accept CLEP exams as credit. However, there are some restrictions. First, these tests are scored on a scale between 20-80 points, and it’s recommended that colleges only accept test scores as credits that are 50 or higher. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, however, and you could find some exceptions.

Second, not every college will accept every CLEP Exam available. Schools tend to only accept them if there is a close match for the subject already offered within the college. So, while there are 34 different exams available to students, not every test will be accepted by every school.

4. Summer Courses

Community colleges sometimes offer summer classes to high school students. This is a money saving option if you’re choosing to go to a four-year college straight out of high school while also allowing you to get a head start.

These classes tend to be five weeks long, with two summer semesters available. Some even offer winter semesters that can be open to high school students.

Will Summer Course Credit Transfer to College?

As with dual enrollment, this entirely depends on the schools in question. Reach out to the college before hand to determine what will transfer and how it will count towards your requirements.

5. International Baccalaureate

Students that are interested in the International Baccalaureate program have to get into an IB-approved school, also known as an IB World School. In order to leave the program with a diploma, students have to take classes in six different subject groups, sit for exams (and pass), and complete three core requirements including essay writing, volunteer work or extracurriculars, and a critical thinking class. An IB program takes two years to complete.

Will IB Credits Transfer to College?

International Baccalaureate (IB) classes are more popular outside of the United States but they definitely have a foothold! Today, nearly 1,700 schools accept them.

Transfer policies however, like other college classes, will vary from school to school. IB tests are graded on a 1-7 scale, with a 4 being considered a pass (there is no official “pass” score). Most schools that already accept IB classes will accept a 6 or 7 as 1:1 credit, but the higher the score, the more likely it will be counted as credit.

Your college experience doesn’t have to wait until you’re enrolled in one! Using these 5 ways to earn college credits in high school you can get a head start, even in your sophomore year of high school. These routes allow you to save money as well as time!

Do you want to know if your dream schools accept these credits? Or want to know more about what they expect from students, your chances of getting accepted, and other details? Use College Raptor’s free College Match tool to learn more!