It’s that time of year. It’s that time to consider which classes to take junior or senior year. There’s a lot to consider. You may have heard about dual enrollment courses and AP courses. Students often are looking for options that can help with their college admissions prospects. But students also look for ways to save money by not having to pay for four full years of college classes. Dual enrollment and AP can offer those opportunities.

Vermont students are eligible for two dual enrollment course vouchers which can be used at nine different institutions of higher learning throughout the state. (A notable non-participant is Middlebury.)  They can be taken on campus or online. The program offers many exciting classes that just aren’t offered in high schools. Dual enrollment courses can be taught by high school teachers (who have advanced credentials) within the high school. These are sometimes called concurrent enrollment classes. The advantage is being able to stay at school with one’s friends and a familiar teacher. This is also a benefit of AP. AP courses can be taken online and as self-study. They culminate with the tests administered in May.

One option students may want to consider is a MOOC (massive open online course). College admission committees like to see the initiative of seeking out a course that specially interests a student. Engineering would be a great example. And there are many courses offered. Coursera and edX are two very popular platforms offering these courses through prominent institutions. It’s not a bad idea to take a course with a social justice theme.

MOOCs can usually be audited for free or for a small fee taken for a grade. High schools vary in how they accept the credits and whether they put them on the high school transcript. Colleges vary in the credit they accept. Many colleges only accept 4 and 5 scores on the AP exam. Some only accept 5 scores. Some schools have a limit on how many AP classes a student can use to claim college credit. Dartmouth, Cal Tech, Brown, Williams, and Amherst do not accept AP scores for college credit at all.

Dual credit is most likely accepted at in-state institutions. It is not accepted at Ivy League schools. They believe that the quality and rigor of their courses cannot be matched. Many other colleges won’t accept the credit either. Above all, colleges and universities want to know that you’re challenged and engaged. If your high school doesn’t offer what you’d like to take, or if you have some time in the summer, consider taking a MOOC.