Every year, millions of high school students are fed this line: “Hey, you should take Advanced Placement (AP) classes! They’re way harder, but if you do well on the test at the end, you’ll get free college credit!”
It sounds like a great deal. But is it actually true?
Actually, Advanced Placement (AP) classes are the least dependable way for students to earn college credit in high school.
Shockingly, fewer than half the students who take AP classes actually end up getting the low-cost college credit they were promised.
One of my medical school applicant clients at getintomedschool.com took an astounding 14 AP courses in high school, scoring so highly on her AP tests that she was named AP Scholar With Distinction. “Did you get any free college credits out of that?” I asked her. “Nope,” she replied. “Not a one.”
And then she added this: “My parents spent over $1200 paying for AP tests for me, and I got zero college credit out of it.”
This Atlantic article goes so far as to tell parents bluntly, “AP classes are a scam” and “AP students are being suckered.”
The well-respected Atlantic said that? Wow.
To learn which early college option tends to be far better than Advanced Placement, read on.
For students who are serious about earning real college credit in high school, dual enrollment beats Advanced Placement (AP), hands down.
You can see me explaining the extraordinary benefits of dual enrollment (and how to find out what dual enrollment opportunities are available in your state) on pages 87–97 of my book LAUNCH: How to Get Your Kids Through College Debt-Free and Into Jobs They Love Afterward
Make sure your kids are equipped to take the most challenging classes in high school.
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Read just one chapter of LAUNCH every 1–3 months while your child’s in middle school and high school, and you’ll know every viable strategy for debt-free college at exactly the right time to implement it.
And if your child’s already well past middle school? That’s OK; you can run to catch up. But the process of getting your kids through college debt-free goes more smoothly the earlier you start it—especially if you’re not planning to save up any money to pay for college.
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Who is Jeannie Burlowski?
Jeannie is a full-time academic strategist, podcast host, and sought-after speaker for students ages 12–26, their parents, and the professionals who serve them. Her writing, speaking, and podcasting help parents set their kids up to graduate college debt-free, ready to jump directly into careers they excel at and love. Her work has been featured in publications such as The Huffington Post, USA Today, Parents Magazine, and US News and World Report, and on CBS News.
This article was updated on January 18th, 2024. No part of this article was written using AI.