Jumping into College Life

Dual Enrollment vs AP Classes


The contrasting websites to access materials relating to AP classes and Dual Enrollment. Photo courtesy of Jessica Bates.

While college can seem like a daunting undertaking to some, others are excited to jump onto the boat that is college life. Students who want a push to do a little extra work, while earning college credit at the same time, have the opportunity to participate in Dual Enrollment and AP classes.

Dual Enrollment 

In Howard County, the Dual Enrollment opportunity happens through what is called the JumpStart Program. JumpStart’s purpose is for students to get a “jump” on college classes. Dual enrollment has almost the same benefits, and Howard County high school students also receive half-priced tuition or full tuition coverage when qualified for free and reduced meals (FARMs).

Not all students are aware that there is an opportunity to enroll in what is called Dual Enrollment, but these classes taken through the program have the possibility to receive credit for both high school and college graduation requirements.

“I wanted to take Dual Enrollment classes so that I could earn college credits and high school credits at the same time, but also so I didn’t have to be at Long Reach as much,” Senior Rewina Embaye said.

Students work with both schools to create their optimal schedule. If there is a conflict in their schedule, then students can opt to take an online version of a class at HCC while still gaining access to release time.

Students should be aware that they are in real college classes, with real college students, and they will not receive special treatment for still being in high school.

To sign up for classes at HCC or to learn more information, students should have a meeting with their counselors to discuss their options.


AP Classes

AP classes, which are taken at Long Reach, also have the opportunity for college credit; however, students must take a test at the end of the year and receive at least a three on the exam to pass and earn this credit.

“I wanted to challenge myself [through AP classes],” Senior Melanie Tong said. “I always felt like GT and honors classes were too easy for me.”

To adequately prepare students for the AP exam, teachers allocate a portion of class time to testing practice, so students often receive lots of in class preparation and loads of out of school assignments.

The process to sign up for these classes is typically easier: students sign up on their own through Synergy when class schedule sign ups come out. Students can speak with their counselors or with current AP teacher to receive more information.

Both types of classes require students to put in effort as if they were college students.

“You can’t just learn from the teacher [in either set of classes]; you have to apply yourself to learning and actually try on your own,” Tong says, who takes AP classes. Tong included that she likes that through both programs there is an option to receive college credit while still in high school.

Overall, both programs offer opportunities for students to receive college credit in the manner that works best for them.