How does a dual enrollment program compare to traditional AP/IB classes?Answered
I'm a senior attending an early college program in the Bay Area, CA. I take two 90 minute high school (honors) classes in the morning, and colleges classes in the afternoon. I am a complete duel enrollment student who is fully a student in high school and community college. By the end of senior year, I will have taken enough college credits/classes to get an AA in Economics. There are no APs offered at my high school, and the general thinking is that CC classes are better than APs. However, on the chancing engine, I can easily see that 20 APs are worth much more than 20 CC classes. I have taken a lot of college classes that have AP equivalents (like Intro Psych, Micro, Macro, Elementary Stats, etc.) and also some classes that can't really be found in the typical high school (like Tropical Ecology and Logic). I have 21 CC classes and no APs. I am well aware of the stereotype that CC classes are "easier" than AP classes. How do I show academic rigor? Would an 'other" recommendation from a college math professor help colleges understand my curriculum? Will my unusual academic position help or hinder my chances?
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Regardless of whether you're in a dual-enrollment program or a normal high school, you have to really push yourself to show rigor. Similar to how you should take as many APs/IBs as you can handle (to show rigor), you should also take as many credits as you can. Since your school doesn't offer AP classes, the colleges you apply to won't even consider APs in your application. They'll look at what you DID do, as compared to everything that was made available to you.
Also, if you can get a good recommendation from any college professor, then it's definitely worth trying. While you should still include letters of recommendation from your normal teachers, I think that the colleges will be ecstatic to know how well you perform in a real college setting that's not just your high school.
Ultimately, if you work hard enough, it will show in your application.
There is no correct answer to this question. In some cases it will help you. Certainly if you stay local and apply to in state California colleges that will give you full academic credit for your DE classes. You might find yourself in a position to complete a 4 year degree in half the time.
On the opposite scale, these DE credits may not help you whatsoever if applying to an Ivy League, Elite (Stanford/MIT/NWestern) or a top LAC (Williams, Amherst) because they rarely accept transfer credits from community college. This is unlike say UCLA which has a CC transfer credit program. At top schools you may not receive a single credit transferred into your degree requirements. On the other hand, more often than not if you get a "5" on a AP exam, you have a very good chance of getting them applied. Some schools like Williams or Brown or Dartmouth have a cap on how many APs can be counted. It's like 6 credits total and I think Brown doesn't accept any at all.
So overall, they do make your academic narrative appear as if you did challenge yourself and seek higher level course than the ones offered by your high school. But in hindsight I would have recommended to you as a 10th grader that you sought out information on what colleges would find these useful before embarking on loading up on 21 of them. While commendable, you can understand why a top school wouldn't want to give you full credit for them because they want you to take their courses instead such as the Columbia Core Curriculum.
At this point, what's done is done. The best recommendation I can offer you is to use the additional information section to explain that you actively sought out these courses because APs were not offered at your high school and you did this to advance your academic narrative and challenge yourself. I would temper your expectations of how much weight they have compared to someone else who might have take 10-12 AP classes and scores 5s on their exams. That still looks more impressive as do those who have complete the IB program or taken more challenging online college courses from say Top50 universities over the summers.
I'm not sure this answers your question to your satisfaction but I tried by best to answer your prompt.
I agree with what @CameronBameron said! It really just comes down to the college that is looking at your application and their policies on accepting CC credit. Since you are coming in with a good amount of credit, I suggest you look into applying to schools that accept that credit because that may help you potentially graduate sooner.
And like @CameronBameron said, you can explain this in the Additional Information section on the Common App. Explain why you took these classes, as well as what higher level classes you took that can show your interest in a particular field/major.
Hope that helps!
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