It might be a new concept in European secondary schools and universities, but in the United States advanced placement (AP) and dual enrolment (DE) courses have been around for a couple of decades. In the last ten years especially, they have become more and more available throughout most secondary schools and universities across all fifty states. Is it time that other countries adapt such programs and get on board with AP, DE and university credits being offered to secondary school students across the globe?

What Are AP and DE programs?

DE programs allow incoming secondary school students to take university courses for university credits. Hence the dual part of dual enrolment. These kids would be both in secondary school and taking university classes at the same time. Many times this is at a discount at what the class would normally cost if you were just an average university student. It really depends on the state that the student is going to school in. Sometimes the secondary school takes care of the cost of the dual enrolment university course, and at other times the student and his/ her family has to pay for it.

Advanced placement (AP) is a program offered mainly to secondary school juniors and seniors. It began way back in the 1950s, but not until the last ten years or so has it had such widespread popularity. Basically the secondary school student is taking an advanced class, or a more difficult class, in secondary school. In doing so, the student can earn university credits just like they can in a dual enrolment program. Depending upon the secondary school, there are 34 different possible subjects AP courses could be about. Proponents state they help transition students to university and allow secondary school graduates to stand out in the university admission process.

The main difference between the two programs is that DE courses can be taken online, at the secondary school, or at a nearby university. It all depends on the course and what the accompanying university has on their schedule. AP courses are taken entirely at the secondary school. While students that pass the DE courses automatically receive their usual three university credits, AP students have to score highly on a finishing AP exam to receive the university credits.

There are requirements to be in either program. Schools do not allow just any student the opportunity to take these courses. Students have to be at least 16 years old, which shouldn’t be a problem for most secondary school juniors and seniors. In fact, in rare cases, a sophomore may be able to take DE or AP courses if they meet the following requirements, too. Students generally must have a grade point average of 2.5 or higher. The school may ask the interested student to take a placement exam as well, demonstrating their strength in the subject and if they are indeed ready for the challenge. Lastly, before a student can be considered qualified for such a program, their parents have to agree to it as well as an administrator from the secondary school they attend. It is a commitment that has to be taken seriously.

How Does DE and AP Make the Transition Easier?

secondary school students participating in DE and AP courses have a much easier time progressing into their university years. For many, they are becoming more and more comfortable with the university life. They know the courses in university are not going to be a cakewalk. It takes more than just putting forth the minimal effort that sometimes was all that was needed in certain secondary school classes. The secondary school graduates will have firsthand knowledge on what the professors expect from them. Plus, they are able to choose diverse classes for the first time based on their interests. But by taking AP and DE courses, this is just the tip of the iceberg on how the transition will be made simpler.

In fact, quite a few DE students transition over to the university after they graduate that they are taking their dual enrolment classes at. They are familiarising themselves with not only the physical layout of the university, but they are also recognising friendly faces in the hallways. They are forming relationships with the faculty members. Any transition in life is easier when there are friends to help guide you along the way. The framework is slowly coming together and getting in place for them.

The secondary school graduates anxiety will be lessened because the AP and DE courses have already opened their eyes to things. They will already have acquired numerous university credits, sometimes enough to almost equal one whole year in university. The graduates will know how to navigate the campus. They will know where the bookstore is at and how to figure out which textbooks go with which courses. They understand who to speak with at the university for registering for classes. After these courses, they have figured out that most university courses are made up of three credit hours each and they only meet a couple times a week. When compared to a daily secondary school schedule where every class meets every single day, this is a huge difference.

Why University Is Important

The easy answer is that graduating from university will offer students opportunities that they otherwise would not have if they were only secondary school graduates. Let’s look at what graduating university does for people financially. Most of us want to make as much money as possible, as long as it is done legally. According to employment website Simply Hired, the average salary for a university graduate is $46,000, but the average is $32,000 for those with a secondary school diploma. Obviously university is expensive, but it can lead to a better paying and more interesting career. Debt is often unavoidable when completing university, but in the long run it can quickly be balanced out by the increased university graduate salaries.