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AP or dual enrollment - which one?


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#1 Elinor Everywhere

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 02:00 PM

As I'm planning out high school, I realize that I'm not sure which is the better path - AP classes or dual enrollment at community college. I gather that both will count towards college (in my state, the major universities all take CC credit), which in turn should reduce the amount of money spent at university.

So....which is the better path? My dd wants to major in Classics, and then go on to law school. If she doesn't get a scholarship to university, she'll go to one of our state schools that offer her desired major. Other than getting some college credits out of the way, what's the advantage of AP? Prestige?

There are so many options for high school, and I'm starting to get nervous that I'll forget something, drop the ball, and ruin her for life. :D

#2 Gwen in VA

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 02:20 PM

Advantages of AP --

1) Standard rigorous coursework. You may be lucky enough to live in an area where your CC is really rigorous, but we have found the level of rigor to be MUCH higher with AP courses compared with our local CC classes. For example, the APUSH class required weekly essays; the US history class at the CC didn't require ANY essays all semester and the question for the short essay on the exam was given out beforehand so you could prepare an outline. The APUSH class required lots of reading from primary source documents; the CC class required no reading other than the textbook.

2) Online classes don't involve time spent commuting. Depending on a student's schedule and the proximity of the CC, commuting can consume a lot of time (and gas).

3) Some colleges don't give credit for any CC classes, period. If you are looking at state schools, that shouldn't be an issue for you.

4) Students in the classes. My son is pretty disillusioned about the students in his CC classes. My kids love the online class discussions, and trying to be at the top of an online AP class has been much more of a challenge than trying to be at the top of a CC class. (That obviously depends on your CC)

#3 G5052

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 03:17 PM

I teach at the local community college, and I agree that the AP offers better content and peer interactions for the liberal-arts type classes. If we do dual enrollment, it will be for IT, math, and/or science.

#4 Elinor Everywhere

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 03:46 PM

I can see the point about rigor and peers - it makes sense. Our CC is very close, so travel is not a problem, and our state universities take their credits, but what if dd ends up getting a scholarship to someplace out of state? At least with AP, she still has a chance of not having to take those subjects.

I think I may end up using the CC (or more likely, a small Christian college here that offers dual enrollment) for science just for the lab component, and go AP for the rest.

Thanks for helping me think through this.

#5 Brenda in MA

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 03:48 PM

Advantages of AP --

1) Standard rigorous coursework. You may be lucky enough to live in an area where your CC is really rigorous, but we have found the level of rigor to be MUCH higher with AP courses compared with our local CC classes. For example, the APUSH class required weekly essays; the US history class at the CC didn't require ANY essays all semester and the question for the short essay on the exam was given out beforehand so you could prepare an outline. The APUSH class required lots of reading from primary source documents; the CC class required no reading other than the textbook.

2) Online classes don't involve time spent commuting. Depending on a student's schedule and the proximity of the CC, commuting can consume a lot of time (and gas).

3) Some colleges don't give credit for any CC classes, period. If you are looking at state schools, that shouldn't be an issue for you.

4) Students in the classes. My son is pretty disillusioned about the students in his CC classes. My kids love the online class discussions, and trying to be at the top of an online AP class has been much more of a challenge than trying to be at the top of a CC class. (That obviously depends on your CC)


:iagree: with all of the above, with a few major caveats.

1. In my experience, the AP classes do offer better content, but, and this a big but -- in order to get credit for an AP course, your student generally needs to score very well (often a 4 or 5) on the AP exam. AP exams are taken by top students, and there is a lot of competition and time pressure. This is a 1 chance only, high-stakes exam. If your child doesn't test well, has text anxiety, or gets sick the day of the test and scores poorly despite knowing the material, then too bad for them. Usually a CC or college course has its grade based upon several exams, and possibly papers and projects, so 1 bad day does not generally equal a failing score.

2. As a homeschooler, you also have the burden of trying to find a local school where your student can take the AP exam. Recent discussions on here in the last week show that this is not always easy.

3. Discussions and peer competition in on-line AP classes can be a good thing, but some kids really need that face-to-face interaction with the instructor and the other students to motivate them. Your student can also use the tutoring center at the CC for extra help or try to form a study group with some of the other students. Classmates through the computer just aren't the same.

4. If your student plans on attending a state college or university, often they are required to accept the CC courses for transfer.

5. Attending a CC gets the homeschooled student used to such mundane things as showing up on time for class, asking the professor for help, navigating the campus, registering for classes, and other things he/she will need to do if living away at college later.

Generally -- If your student is very academic-minded and highly-motivated, I think AP courses are great options. If your student thrives with lots of peer interactions and in-person instructors, then CC is better. Sometimes, you can work a combination of both so your student can reap the benefits of both scenarios.

HTH,
Brenda

#6 Elinor Everywhere

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 04:10 PM

1. In my experience, the AP classes do offer better content, but, and this a big but -- in order to get credit for an AP course, your student generally needs to score very well (often a 4 or 5) on the AP exam. AP exams are taken by top students, and there is a lot of competition and time pressure. This is a 1 chance only, high-stakes exam. If your child doesn't test well, has text anxiety, or gets sick the day of the test and scores poorly despite knowing the material, then too bad for them. Usually a CC or college course has its grade based upon several exams, and possibly papers and projects, so 1 bad day does not generally equal a failing score.

3. Discussions and peer competition in on-line AP classes can be a good thing, but some kids really need that face-to-face interaction with the instructor and the other students to motivate them. Your student can also use the tutoring center at the CC for extra help or try to form a study group with some of the other students. Classmates through the computer just aren't the same.

5. Attending a CC gets the homeschooled student used to such mundane things as showing up on time for class, asking the professor for help, navigating the campus, registering for classes, and other things he/she will need to do if living away at college later.



Brenda, thanks so much for your input. The above points particularly speak to me.

I think I have a possible solution for the CC classes. Very near my house is a small Christian university, and they have begun offering dual enrollment classes for high schoolers. Some girls from my homeschool group are considering it, which would be great. My dd would be in a classroom setting, but the kids would all be her age (roughly). She would know some of the kids, and they could form study groups if they want, or at least discuss the class and lessons.

For right now, I think I'm leaning on a combination of dual enrollment and AP, in particular using the AP for classes not offered by the university, or for subjects that my dd loves and would be motivated to work hard in.

#7 Lori D.

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 04:41 PM

Howdy "neighbor" and fellow state-mate! :seeya:

Just wanted to give you a heads-up: I know you and I live in the same state, but we are in different cities, so this may NOT apply to you, BUT...

Due to our mutual state's VERY BAD economy, all the public universities and community colleges in the state are receiving reduced state funding. In order to "tighten the belt" the CC in my city is seeking to plug leaks of wherever they are losing those state monies. One area where the CC loses a lot of state funding is from students withdrawing early from classes. As a result our city's CC is making a policy change which looks like it might well affect homeschoolers. Since the largest number of students to withdraw early from the CC are students without a high school diploma or GED; while that is probably mostly high school drop-outs and those returning for a degree after having dropped out, it also includes those in the midst of high school, including homeschoolers. So the CC is considering not allowing anyone to attend the CC without either a high school diploma, a GED, or enrollment in the public high school's special trade/tech career dual enrollment program. That is going to cut homeschoolers out of dual enrollment, unless they take those specific tech/trade courses -- and while a few do, most are taking classes that parents like to outsource (Writing, Math, Foreign Language, Science), and other general ed. coursework to be early at work on a 2-year degree.


Why I tell you all of this is that you may want to look very closely at the dual enrollment policies of any PUBLIC CC you may be considering. In contrast, there shouldn't be any issues with dual enrollment at the local Christian College, as they don't receive state funding.

BEST of luck as you sort out the AP/dual enrollment/CLEP etc. decisions! :) Warmest regards, Lori D.

Edited by Lori D., 13 February 2012 - 04:44 PM.


#8 creekland

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 04:46 PM

I agree with the assessments above. For the most part, AP is better/preferred, etc, IF one takes the test and scores well. Colleges seem to prefer AP for acceptances even if they give credit for both (and as mentioned, many don't give credit for DE).

DE is better in the aspect that the prof can provide letters of reference based upon a brick and mortar classroom experience.

A mix is a good idea.

#9 Margaret in CO

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 07:55 PM

We've done both. We no longer do AP and here's why: our ps changed the test score sheet on dd. Also, it boils down a 6 credit college class to a one hour test--that's impossible.

Our dual enrollment has been very successful. Not cheap, but successful. My children have learned to juggle homework, people trying to cheat off of them, outside grading and requirements, testing, etc. Ours is a 4 year state college, not a CC, so we don't have to worry about level of class.

We don't have any help with tuition/fees etc. with our dual enrollment--it's all funded by the bank of mom and dad. I realize that many people may not be able to do that. On the flip side, the legislature can't take away our funding!

Oh, and another con to AP/CLEP: we had friends that went that route and all was well, until the student changed colleges! And the new one would not accept AP/CLEP at all! It added a year to her undergrad. Yes, you can say, pick a school that will accept them, but plans change. The girl switched into nursing, so had to switch schools.

So, after the debacle of our AP experience, we do dual enrollment. I was just thinking what ds should take next semester. We have found that our children's course decisions have led to areas we would never have dreamed of--dd is going to be a computer major! Never would I have thought of THAT! She couldn't get into the web design class she was interested and her advisor suggested the basic intro class--she loved it and now has 12 credits of computer science under her belt.

#10 Laura in CA

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 07:55 PM

Agreeing with all of the advice above. It's not an either/or question for us; we're doing both APs and DE. One or two AP courses a year, in areas we've found great classes and teachers for or in areas in which our local CC is weak; and one or two DE courses a year, with dedicated teachers and the classroom interaction my son craves (he's an extrovert).

#11 Elinor Everywhere

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 09:20 AM

Thanks for sharing your experiences. I spent all afternoon yesterday looking at my dd's course requirements at the two state universities, and trying to figure out which classes would be satisfied with AP/DE.

The whole thing is stressful, but kind of fun, actually. Makes me wish I was heading back to college! :D

#12 moki4

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 10:45 AM

Please explain...
What did the PS change on the answer sheet? I just signed dd up to take her AP exam and everything went smoothly.
I am curious.

#13 Laura in MI

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 08:03 PM

I've been thinking about the same thing. I had an idea but I don't know if it's completely crazy, What about taking a class at the CC such as Biology and then self studying for the AP test and taking it too?

Don't mean to hijack but I'm wondering if you can do that? :bigear:

#14 Elinor Everywhere

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Posted 15 February 2012 - 09:57 AM

I've been thinking about the same thing. I had an idea but I don't know if it's completely crazy, What about taking a class at the CC such as Biology and then self studying for the AP test and taking it too?

Don't mean to hijack but I'm wondering if you can do that? :bigear:


That's an interesting idea! One of our state universities requires "real" labs, so the CC would give me the lab, but then....taking the AP test also. Hmmm.....


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