AP, IB, and Dual Enrollment (or PSEO): An Analysis

A reader recently wrote in to ask my opinion about dual enrollment courses, and to compare them to the Advanced Placement (or AP) options at her sons’ school.  The question came on a post I wrote analyzing the worth of AP courses.

First, a brief word of explanation about “dual enrollment,” or what some know as PSEO:  “post secondary enrollment options.”  Most states now allow high school students to enroll in community college or university courses and to apply the credits earned to their high school transcript.  Students are thus dually enrolled: they earn both high school AND college credits for the same course.  In some cases, these courses are offered in the high school by community college faculty.  In some cases, high school faculty are “approved” or certified by the community college to offer college level courses after the college has approved the syllabus.  In some cases, students leave their high school to attend courses at the community college.  However they are organized, dually enrolled students receive two sorts of credit for their work.  They receive grades on their high school transcript, and the same grades are recorded in their college transcripts.  Two birds, one stone.

The advantages of dual enrollment/PSEO courses include:

  • High schools can offer honors level courses without hiring new staff
  • Districts can save money by partnering with community colleges
  • Parents can save on college tuition, because these college credits are transferable to most state universities
  • Students demonstrate that they can handle college-level work
  • Students who doubt their own abilities to succeed in college experience success and are more likely to apply to college–and eventually graduate
  • Community colleges and 4-year institutions build a pipeline of students moving from high school to college
  • State governments and local governments appreciate the collaboration between K-12 and higher education


In states where PSEO options exist, the state government creates master articulation agreements to ensure that credits earned while in high school are  guaranteed transfer to higher education systems in that state.  Thus, if you take a dual enrollment course in Virginia, your credits are automatically accepted for credit by state-funded universities in Virginia–as long as the grade earned is a C- or above, and as long as the courses are considered academic, “general education” course (as opposed to remedial or developmental courses, or technical or industrial skills courses.

So now for my reader’s question, which has two parts:

First, if students in Florida take PSEO credits in Florida, are those college credits applicable only to Florida colleges, or will they be accepted elsewhere?

Second, which makes more sense:  dual enrollment courses for college credit, or AP courses for college credit?

The answer to the first question is fairly easy:  state colleges and universities are very likely to accept PSEO credits from another state, as long as the credits are listed on a transcript from an accredited community college or university.  Universities in Colorado, therefore, will accept credits from Florida, as long as they are academic in nature and the grade earned is above a C-. In Colorado, there is NO LIMIT to the number of credits that can thus be transferred.  If all the courses a student takes in her junior and senior years of high school are dually enrolled, then effectively that student conceivably could enter as a first semester JUNIOR in college (depending on where the credits are and how they conform to the university’s graduation and major requirements).  In Colorado, the student with PSEO credits enters as a first-year student, not as a transfer student. (In Colorado, if a high school graduate takes college courses after earning a high school diploma, the student cannot take more than 12 semester hours of credit without being considered a transfer student, which may mean the number of credits transferred in can be limited.)

Private colleges are a different matter, however.  As private entities, they are free to establish their own transfer criteria. Thus it is best to check in advance of applying what the college’s policy toward dual enrollment or PSEO credits will be.  Some will be happy to transfer the courses in, as long as there is an equivalent offered at their college.  Others may require a grade of B or better to transfer.  Some more selective colleges may use PSEO credits only to waive prerequisites or for placement purposes.  One thing is clear, however:  colleges and universities of all types smile upon students who have completed dual enrollment or PSEO courses.  These courses demonstrate the ability to do college-level work, and they send the signal to admissions offices that this student is likely to succeed at our college–because they have been tested in real college environments.

Now for the second question:  which is better, AP or PSEO?  The answer is:  it depends.

First, some schools are unable to offer both AP and PSEO.  In fact, rural high schools are much more likely to rely on PSEO courses than AP, because dual enrollment is less expensive to the school district–especially if there is not enough demand to fill a complete AP course.  So if there is no AP or IB option in your school, you should definitely consider PSEO options.

Second, if your goal is to reduce the costs of attending a state university, PSEO credits are a guaranteed discount.  Because states automatically require these courses to transfer, any PSEO course you take will reduce the number of credits you must complete (and pay for!) while in college.  As long you dually enroll in a college prep course and you get a C- or better, you get the college credit.  The AP test, by contrast, comes with a high stakes test:  take the course, get an A, and then take the test.  If you pass with a score of 3, 4, or 5, you MIGHT get college credit, based on the policy in place at a particular college or university.  And as I have written, an A in the class is no predictor of success on the AP test.

Third, if your school has a strong AP program that has a history of success in helping students earn 4s and 5s on the AP test, you might want to consider the AP courses if you plan to attend a highly selective college or university.  The reason is this:  the AP test is a demonstration of proficiency and competence in a subject matter.  While a credit is a demonstration that you did what the teacher or professor required of you, the AP test is a nationally-normed test.  A score of 5 on that test communicates that not only are you a good student who can handle college level work, but that you have demonstrated a high degree of mastery of the subject matter.

My opinion is that a score of 5 on the AP US History test communicates more about the student’s intellectual capacity and academic proficiency than an A in an introductory US history course offered by my local community college.  While I have not done a scientific survey of admissions officers at selective colleges to reinforce my opinion, I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that most of my peers would agree.  Standardized test, despite their flaws, do help admissions officers compare apples to apples.  They help to separate grades from proficiency.  High scores provide external verification that the grades a student earns are an expression of content mastery.  So if your aim is to be admitted to the most selective colleges in the land, you should consider taking AP courses.

There is a caveat, however, that brings us back to my reader’s original question. She said that her school has a low pass rate in the AP program, and that students often get high grades in their AP courses and then score only 1 or 2 on the exams (i.e., they fail them).   Thus I come back to my point in my previous post regarding AP courses:  just because a course is labeled AP does not mean that it is a good course or that a student will achieve the level of mastery required to score a 5 on the AP exam.  Many, many schools across the country are offering AP courses that very poorly taught by teachers who do simply do not have the content background or pedagogical skill to prepare students for these rigorous exams.

The College Board is trying to ratchet up the standards, because they know that parents are noticing the disconnect between the brand name and teacher preparedness.  The steps the College Board is taking to verify AP syllabi in all courses labeled AP is a good first step.  But in the end, success in the AP (or IB) program is not about the curriculum alone.  It is about the teacher who delivers that curriculum.

Jaime Escalante of Stand and Deliver fame was able to get his poor, inner city students to pass the AP calculus exam not because he had a good syllabus, but because he was a fantastic, talented, workaholic teacher who would not rest until his students passed that exam.  Teachers in your school’s AP program may resemble Mr. Escalante.  Or they may resemble Mr. Larson, my high school math teacher, who was as creative as a lima bean and as dedicated as an assembly line worker two weeks before retirement.  An AP syllabus in his hands would make it highly unlikely than anyone but Einstein himself would pass that AP Calculus exam.


Mark Montgomery
College Counselor

Great College Advice



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Published by Mark Montgomery

Mark is a leading educational consultant. His experience as a professor, college administrator, and youth mentor help him guide students from around the country and around the world.

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  1. Related to this topic is what appears to be a drawback of dual enrollment. Our daughter will be graduating from high school in two weeks, and has taken 12 classes at our local community college that were credits accepted by her high school. This high school offers weighted GPA calculations for AP classes, but not if the student actually went to the college and obtained the credits there. This has impacted her overall GPA because she was doing much harder coursework, but isn’t allowed to get the benefit of weighted grades…so fewer scholarships and no Top 5% of her class.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Jolene.

    I’m curious to know what state you are from. Also, what can you tell me about the fact that she received “fewer scholarships”? I’m curious to know where she applied, and how the application was presented to the admissions office.

    Many states are still in the throes of figuring out how to handle credits from community colleges when it comes to such matters. Perhaps you got squeezed in the process. But perhaps there is a financial aid appeal in there someplace?

    Thanks again for visiting.

  3. Please help. My daughter is terrified of AP and wants to take all dual enrolled. She has a 4.375 GPA and is going into her junior year. thanks

  4. Hello, Kim.
    Thanks for the comment. I’m not sure what you need help with. Do you think she should not dual enroll? What state are you in? What are her plans? I need much more context in order to be helpful. If you’d like a free consultation to see whether I can be helpful in a specific way, don’t hesitate to give me a call at 720.279.7577.

  5. Thank you for the advice. Here is the information I received from UF. I thought you would like to see what they said. Thanks again!

    From UF:

    We consider AP, IB, AICE and Dual Enrollment classes to be the most academically challenging classes available to a student. When a student applies to UF, we recalculate a student’s high school GPA we only use grades 9 thru 11 and only use the 5 core academic classes — English, Math, Science, Social Science and Foreign Language. For Honors classes with a grade of “C” or better we give 1/2 point added weight, i.e., an “A” in Honors English is calculated as a 4.5. For AP, IB, AICE or Dual Enrollment classes with a grade of “C” or better we give 1.0 added weight, i.e., an “A” in AP English or English EC 1101 would be calculated as a 5.0. Senior year grades don’t count but the strength of the senior year schedule is very important — we look to see that a student is taking the most academically challenging courses available to them at their high school, we want to see that they have exhausted the academic opportunities available to them — we give added weight for AP, IB, AICE or Dual Enrollment classes during the senior year.

    AP classes in any subject matter are considered academic classes while Dual Enrollment classes must be in the 5 core academic areas to be considered.

    I hope this information is helpful to you and your daughter in planning her schedule for both her junior and senior year.

  6. Kim,
    Many thanks for the information from the University of Florida. As you can see, going straight to the horse’s mouth is the best way to learn these different policies.

    Did you see the article in today’s Chronicle of Higher Education about the huge budget crunch at Florida Universities? Professors are losing the phones in their offices. The maintenance crews are removing lightbulbs to save energy. The question is not whether, but when the budget cuts will begin to affect the educational experience at Florida’s public institutions.

    Thanks again!

  7. Hi, Judith.

    As most of my posts try to indicated, the answer is: “it depends.” Both programs are great. It depends on the student’s priorities, personality, performance. It also may depend on the quality of the AP and IB programs available to the student, as one program in your area may be stronger than the other. Fundamentally, however, you must ask yourself which approach will allow the student to be more successful. At the end of the day (or at the end of junior year), what will matter most is how well the student performed in whichever program she chooses. Neither program will “get a student in.” Achievement is what gets the student accepted.

    Hope that helps, and thanks for stopping by.

  8. My daughter will be starting her junior year this Aug (Florida high school). She completed a dual enrollment class over the summer, but how would that work if she did more dual enrolled classes during the year? Would she have to take all the ‘required to graduate’ credits in high school AS WELL as the community college classes? Thank you so much for your advice. I love this website!

  9. Hi Judith,

    My name is Katherine and I work with Mark. As far as dual enrollment programs go, you would have to ask your daughter’s high school how her dual enrollment courses would fulfill her high school graduation requirements. In terms of receiving college credit for dual enrollment courses taken while still in high school, it really depends on the policy of the college or university your daughter is thinking of applying to and attending. Some colleges and universities see dual enrollment programs as a bonus in terms of students having a more challenging curriculum, but they are reluctant to accept the courses for credit since the student also received credit for the course towards her high school diploma. I guess along with other aspects of the college admission and selection process, “it depends” on the policies of the college or university you daughter is thinking of applying to. Let us know if we can help with the process!

    Katherine Price
    Senior Associate

  10. Two thumbs up for dual-enrollment! At least the version present in New Mexico.

    My twins have been aware of it since their HS Junior year. D spawn thought about it as a replacement for an AP HS course taught by a poorly regarded teacher, and in the end skipped the course. S spawn has been taking further courses at the U since exhausting the AP curriculum at the HS.

    It is true that the GPA is waxed and shined by AP more than PSEO allows, even before considering the faster pace of college and post AP level, but so what ? Any truly selective college worth it’s name can read a transcript and education resume, and give that student a star.

    A very nice side benefit of PSEO for our family has also happened: S spawn originally had designs of attending a prestigious, expensive college. Now he knows that the local state U can challenge him just as far as he can reach, and easily for next few years, quite a bit more. When and if he ever exhausts the doctoral level classes or is interested in power internships or wow research, we will happily support his move to his next frontier. In the meantime, a full ride locally is just an amazing deal.

  11. Thanks, Eric, for your personal insights into the value of dual enrollment programs. They really can be terrific options for a lot of students, and as you point out, they can help parents save a ton of money!

  12. My daughter just started IB this year, she is thinking about changing to dual enrollment, what is your suggestion?

  13. Hello, Babita,
    Thanks for your question and your follow-up phone call. As I explained on the phone, it’s virtually impossible for me to give advice like this without a full understanding of the options available, the academic goals of your student, her preferences and priorities, and her learning style. Fortunately, we can begin to do that by phone, so I’m looking forward to learning more about your daughter as she maps her college journey!

  14. Hi, I’m an IB student and it’s my junior year. I think junior year is the most difficult, specially in IB and I don’t know if I want to continue. My classes are tough and I’m in 2 different sports in my school. I can’t decide on whether to stay in the program or get out. I also feel that if I get out I can succeed more in honors or AP classes more than being in IB. I really need advice. please help me.

  15. Hello, Tiffany,
    I’m not sure I can really help you, except to say that this is a common conundrum. If you are leaving IB because it is tough, remember that AP classes are no cakewalk. However, the AP curriculum permits you greater range of choice and a broader curriculum than the more focused IB. Either curriculum is great. Either will testify to the fact that you are taking a demanding curriculum. In both cases, what will matter is your performance: how well did you do in those classes and on those exams? The curriculum is not what will get you into college: it’s your performance.
    Hope this at least helps you to frame the question, even if I’m not able to provide you with the answer.
    Best of luck.

  16. I hope you are still taking questions.
    Do private and public colleges do their own weighting of grades when they consider admission and scholarships?
    Our school has removed weight and class rank to discourage PSEO participation.
    How do you get consideration for merit based aid when the HS transcript must be mailed directly from the HS guidance office?

  17. Hi, Susan.
    I think it’s kind of funny that your school is discouraging PSEO participation. I wonder what the beef is…too many kids finding HS boring and irrelevant?

    As for your fear that private and public colleges will not take due notice of your son or daughter’s transcript, please don’t worry. Try not to, anyway. Colleges have their own internal systems of judging the rigor of a student’s curriculum. They will look not only at PSEO courses, but also AP, IB, and honors. They will also receive a profile of the graduates of the school, which will explain their weighting policies (or lack thereof). When it comes to merit based aid, it’s usually based on GPA and test scores (see Southwestern University, for example, which makes their awards very clear). Or else it is some mysterious, unidentified process that colleges prefer to keep to themselves. If there is any doubt, you can contact individual colleges and universities directly to learn about their policies about merit aid awards and their relation to weighted and unweighted GPA and class rank.

    I hope this helps a bit.

  18. Hi, I’m a dual-enrollment student that’s currently enrolled in a community college in California. This past semester I exceeded my 60 units and am now considered an upper level college student at the community college, I want to transfer to a school in Florida as a Jr. When I applied they called and said that I may be considered as a freshman due to my being a dual-enrollment student. Can you help explain this? Is there a way around this? It is because I’m an out of state student that I’m facing this issue, do the credits not transfer?

  19. Hi, Keith.

    Your community college credits are transferable, by law, to another state-funded institution of higher education in the state of California. Florida is under no obligation to accept those credits. Thus since you have not yet graduated high school, you will be considered a freshman in Florida. However, in California, you can be a junior (as long as all of your credits fall within the California state guidelines for transfer–you’ll have to talk to the colleges there to be sure).

    If you want to go to college in Florida, then your dual enrollment classes will certainly help you get admitted. But again, they credits will not likely transfer. So you have to decide which is preferable: save money and time and stay in California, or move to Florida and pay more money and take longer to complete your degree (and then maybe go to Florida for graduate school…?)

    Hope this helps.

  20. Hello! I happen to be a full-time dual enrolled student, and I have to say that it has for the most part worked out wonderfully for me.

    I can understand why AP would be more appealing than dual-enrollment to some people because of the GPA breaks, but my high school is rather stupid. They don’t weigh GPA’s for hard classes at all, and the AP classes are overcrowded, hard to get into, and usually poorly taught, so for me dual-enrollment sounded like a much better option.

    Even though I’ve loved the freedom of my new schedule, there have been a few drawbacks. Firstly, my GPA has dropped a bit since enrolling in PSEO. Math is not really my strong suit, and I got a B in College Algebra, ruining my 4.0 and knocking me out of the top 5% of the class. That’s right, if you take only easy classes, it is very easy to get a 4.0 around my high school, and it screws all of the students who want to challenge themselves over.

    Another weakness is that my credits won’t transfer everywhere. I wish there were some sort of comprehensive list of all of the places that will accept credit, but for the most part colleges are not very forthcoming on their websites about accepting other credits. Most “elite” schools will accept little, if any, of my credits, but all of the colleges in my state (Minnesota) are willing to accept them all.

    In short, PSEO has been a wonderful experience for me and has been way less stressful than regular high school, with it’s controlling administration and teenage drama. However, the challenging coursework has caused my GPA to drop, and I am now very limited in the schools that I can attend without losing credit. It’s a good thing that I like the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities, or I’d have really been screwed over!

  21. Hi, Kim,
    Thanks for your thoughtful and very helpful comment. You see the pros and cons very clearly. As you say, the PSEO option can help you amass college credits most easily if you are planning to attend a state university. It is especially easy to transfer PSEO credits from a community college to a four-year college in the same state. Private colleges, however, are under less pressure to accept those credits, both politically and economically. So if you go the PSEO route, don’t expect credits to transfer automatically to a private college–do the research in advance.
    Best of luck, and thanks again for stopping by.

  22. I teach at a small, rural high school in northwest Florida (420-plus students grades 6-12), and we experimented with AP classes for the first time. I taught AP Literature and Composition for seniors. We offered AP Biology and World History for sophomores, Government and Economics for seniors and a Psychology course that students anywhere from grades 9-12.

    We got our scores back and of the 69 tests we issued, only three students made a 3 or Above, and two of them were mine. One made a 4, another a 3 with nine scores of 2 and two scores of 1. We kind of jumped in and “ran with the ball,” and I was the only teacher who had attended a AP Summer Institute.

    Our school is now considering pulling the plug on my AP class because we can hire a teacher who can teach dual enrollment. I have no personal axe to grind because I understand the kids’ predicament. A lot of our students attend the local junior college and take dual enrollment classes through it.

    My gripe is I wonder if we’re throwing in the towel too soon. We need to vertical team our AP and likely offer less AP. We’ve already cut Biology and World History, and I’m disappointed I’m on the chopping block.

    Being a small school we should offer less AP, but I am a firm believer less is more. I was all ready to begin this year, but I may not get the opportunity. I feel all of my 13 seniors who left (even the two who scored a 1) can handle themselves in a English 1101 environment.

    Should we try to stay the course, so to speak, in a few curricular areas? Also, do you happen to know if schools in Florida get money for offering AP courses or the number of kids in an AP course? Does the state pay for the kids to take the test? I heard the state allocates funds to school districts to cover this.

    I’m a firm believer if we can vertical team a few subjects and get them successful, AP can be successful at our school. However, there’s also the stigma of instant success and impatience at building a program.

    Since we’re so small and rural, is it best for our school to offer just dual enrollment? I have more mixed emotions than ever now, but I KNOW I can successfully teach my AP class.

  23. Hi, Jeff.

    Thanks for the comment. Your story points to the difficulty of starting up a solid AP program in a rural area with teachers who are inexperienced at offering the program. I can feel your frustration, and I admire your confidence (which is well-founded) that you CAN successfully teach the AP program. Further, it seems to feel good to you that the AP program provides some sort an external standard by which you can judge the performance of your students.

    PSEO is a good alternative, though I do understand that it is something of a cop out. PSEO options may or may not be as rigorous as an AP course, because community college courses are not held to a national assessment in the way the AP is so held.

    As for Florida’s policies on paying for APs, I really don’t know. I should think this would be public information that you could get from your state department of education.

    With regard to your final question…whether PSEO is better for your district…I can’t really say. You have identified the difficulty: one needs well-trained teachers in a well-articulated program in order to achieve solid results. Should the district put aside the impulse toward instant gratification and build a solid AP program? Or should the district save the time and expense by taking advantage of the PSEO options, which achieve the same advanced placement result? You raise the conundrum well. But as a democratic entity, your school committee is the one who has to make that difficult decision. And it sounds like they’re going for the PSEO.

    In any event, I encourage you to keep up the good fight and do all you can to teach those kids the very best you can.

    Warm regards,


  24. Hi, I am a dual enrollment student at Broward College. I took 2 classes there this summer, and I plan to take 3 classes during my highschool senior year coming up. I was wondering if the grade I received in my AP classes and Dual Enrollment classes will affect my college GPA? If so, are they counted with an extra 1.0 like they are in my highschool GPA? I was also wondering if it matters in college if it’s a B+ or does it just count as a B when calculating college GPA. Here is some background info… I am applying to Florida universities, and I currently have a 4.7 weighted GPA and a 3.8 unweighted in highschool.

  25. Alexis,
    Your high school determines what will be on your HS transcript. If the Broward courses were really “dual enrollment,” then your grades from those courses should show up on your HS transcript, and will be included in calculating your HS GPA. As for whether these courses are weighted, this, too, is a high school decision (and not a college one). So you will need to speak to your HS counseling office or to your HS registrar to learn of those policies. As for those “pluses” and “minuses,” colleges generally look at whatever high schools give them. Some high schools strip the pluses and minuses, others do not.
    Thanks for writing in!

  26. Hi, I am currently in 9th grade having a unweighed 4.0, and at my school they offer very little AP classes, about two to be exact, and we have a dual enrollment classes. I passed every subject in the CPT (college placement test), with the following scores:
    Reading: 98 (needed 83)
    Writing: 93 (needed 83)
    Elemetary Algebra: 111 (needed 72)
    College Level Math: 70 (needed 40)
    as you see I very well in the CPT, so I qualified for ever class, but the guidance counselor said I had to be in 10th grade to take english and the advanced math college classes (i.e. Trig.), what do you recommend I should do? There is also the possibility of taking AP courses online and I’m stuck between both chooses, please give the pros and cons of each one, and the one you would recommend. Thank you in advanced.

    p.s. thank you for reading this extremely long message….

  27. My twin sons are high school sophomores with 4.0 GPAs (no weighted grades in our high school) and are considering PSEO instead of AP classes next year. Their older brother took AP classes at the high school they attend and we felt that most of them were not very well taught and our son only passed one of the three AP tests he took (he took 4 courses). My oldest son is in his sophomore year in college now and said he learns more in a quarter than he ever did in an entire year in high school.

    I thought that PSEO would be a good alternative to the AP classes, but their guidance counselors say that they are well on track for AP courses and “most four year schools look for those over PSEO courses.” What is your recommendation? I hate to see my sons waste time in AP classes that aren’t taught well, but I also want them to have the best chance of getting college credit and their best chance of admissions/scholarships to the colleges of their choice.


  28. Hi, Erica,

    It’s hard for me to give you very specific advice, but you are asking the right question. So you should ask another couple of questions to the counselor and the AP teachers at your son’s school.

    1. What is your policy about allowing students into AP courses? Can anyone who wants to get in, or are you reserving these courses for the best and brightest?
    2. What is the pass rate for each AP teacher? What percentage of those passing the AP test score a 5 on the test?
    3. What is the relationship between grades in the course and results on the test? My sister, who is an AP teacher, guarantees that her grades will reflect her predicted score on the test. If she is wrong and gives a kid a B in the course–but the kid subsequently scores a 5 on the test–she will give the kid an A in the course.
    4. What sort of training have the AP teachers been given? How many have graded AP tests in their subject? How many College Board-certified training institutes have they attended?

    If, based on these answers, you do decide to go the PSEO route, make sure that you explain this decision on the application to college in a sentence or two: “I was on the track to take the AP courses at my school, but felt that the teachers were ill-prepared to deliver the course, so I went to the community college as an alternative.” And then list the courses in the “colleges attended” section of the application with the corresponding grades.

    Bottom line: it’s about how much they learn, not about the title of the course or who offers it.

    Hope this helps. Good luck!

  29. Thanks so much for your reply. It was extremely helpful. I have one more question.

    What would you consider to be the minumum pass rate for an AP teacher to be considered qualified to teach the class? I did email the guidance counselor and ask her for the pass rates of specific teachers, but am not sure what to do with those numbers if they are not very high or low.

  30. Dear Wisam,
    I would push your counselor hard to get into the higher level math class. If the counselor does not budge, go to the principal. If the principal does not budge, go to the superintendent. If no one in your school is willing to allow you to push yourself in math, then go to the community college. If you feel you can handle the rigor, go for it.
    Keep in mind, however, that school is not a “race”. I sometimes advise smart kids to allow themselves the luxury of slowing down in one area that comes easily to them (math, in your case) so that they can get excellent grades in other classes that come less easily.
    But schools have limitations that relate to their inability to be flexible. Maybe the problem is a scheduling problem: if you take high level math, then you cannot get into the right English class. Go back and talk to the counselor, ask WHY you cannot take higher level math, understand what the limitations are, and then work with the counselor, school officials, and community college advisers to create a workable plan for yourself.
    Good luck!

  31. Hello, I am trying to figure what are the best classes I can take as an 9th grader. This is my last year as an 8th grader and we have to choose our classes. I was wondering what is better to take AICE, AP or I.B right now I’m sounding more interested in the I.B program but I don’t know if I could be taking something better. I know that AICE and IB are very similar, they both give your Bright Futures Scholarships, diplomas at the end or earlier, and they give you about the same college credits, but I was hearing the AICE is more popularly known in other countries like in Europe, and that here the colleges prefer to see IB or AP on the transcript because they are more familiar with it than AICE. Is that true? What is what colleges prefer to see on the transcript? Please reply soon.

  32. Hello. You ask a good question, but it’s hard to answer definitively, as it all depends on your preferences and your post-secondary school plans. It also depends, in part, on where you live and what is most easily accessible. I can assure you that colleges like both the AP and IB programs equally, though for different reasons. The two programs are different, but depending on how you structure the AP program, it could be considered less rigorous than the IB. That said, the AP can be very, very rigorous. Again, it all depends on the individual involved and the choices he or she makes all through secondary school. I’d be happy to help you make this decisions, if you think having a consultant would be helpful. Good luck!

  33. My school does not offer AP, IB, or AICE, but it does have a very strong dual enrollment program that is growing. I am taking dual enrollment courses, and, depending on how I do in the subjects, I do a little extra studying and take the AP exams ( at another school). I figure that this shows colleges that I can handle college level work, and that I have mastered the material taught throughout the dual enrollment course.

  34. Hi, Evan,
    You are correct. You are showing initiative. You are performing at a high level. Keep up the good work.

  35. Hello Mr. Montgomery,

    I’m currently going into my junior year of high school and I probably have a 3.3 GPA, I’m not too sure. But anyway I really need to bring my GPA up. I feel as if my guidance counselor is helpless, he doesn’t seem to care about what classes I get and I very much expect highly of myself when it comes to school work. Considering this is junior year it is, as I hear, the most important sense colleges look at that GPA and curriculum. So when it comes down to it, I’m having a VERY hard time deciding wether duel enrollment is best for me or AP classes. I really need guidance. I do plan on going out of state. I know what you might be thinking “Not with that GPA!” but I believe I can strive and succeed in whatever I do. I wish this wasn’t such a hard process. Considering the private college I want to attend; they don’t accept college credits taken in high school. I can settle take advantage of an A.A and go on to the best Florida college to continue my next two years THEN transfer to that private university out of state, what do you think?

    Thank you!

  36. Hi.
    So I am going to be a junior starting next week and i am fully aware of the turning point this can be…
    I was in pre-IB the last 2 years of HS but the program got canceled from that school so now I have to go to a another school miles away, but at the same time i have the opportunity to go to a closer school in which offers lots of AP classes. My first taste of AP was not good either ( last year when i took AP US Government and got a B+ but failed the Exam, with a 2). Additionally if I go to the closer school i will have the chance to do Dual next semester (missed the deadline for full year enrollment).
    So taking into consideration the fact that the closer school i can go to has accreditation issues but includes more opportunities.ie. extracurricular activities and Dual Enrollment; and the further school restricts me to just doing IB…. Which should I choose???
    Also I am planning on going to college out of state.

  37. Hi, Elijah,
    I really can’t answer your question well, as there are too many variables involved. But the bottom line is this: your school is not nearly as important as your performance. You can go to an awesome school, but if you fail and AP test, well, then it’s your performance on that exam that is going to count. You should do what makes sense for you, both academically and logistically. The fact that a school offers opportunities means nothing if you do not take advantage of them…or create opportunities for yourself. Ultimately, the choice is not as significant as you make out. Do what makes sense, and then strive to perform at the highest level possible. Best of luck!

  38. Hello, and thanks for writing in. I can understand your dilemma. But I’m not sure how best to counsel you, as I really don’t have enough information about your school choices, the college(s) you are contemplating, and myriad other factors that would go into a big decision like this. It may be too late to offer you any specific guidance, but perhaps talking to one of our counselors for an hour or two might help you clarify things. If this is something that you think would be helpful, please let me know through the comment page on our website. Thanks, and good luck!

  39. Thank you very much.

    Your advice has served to concrete my choice to go through the IB program… already i have discovered that the best thing for me to do is to simply manage my time wisely, and i feel as if im on the right track so far.

    And if you still would like to counsel me, i still can not decide the between my college choices…so if you would like to help me here is my information:
    I plan on majoring in engineering (aeronautical or mechanical), and minoring or maybe even a double major in music or architecture (haven’t decided yet)…
    I plan on getting my doctorates too– going straight to graduates school…
    My college choices are:
    Georgia Tech if i want/have to stay in-state,
    University of Miami (my first choice)
    Florida AMU (if i want to double major in band/music also)
    St. Johns University (only college i KNOW accepts IB credit)
    Rochester University (possibly my graduate school)
    and if i get the IB diploma i may go abroad (don’ t really know much about colleges overseas)

    I know it sounds like a lot but i am told that i must narrow my choices to only three… So which three?
    Are there better colleges in the country as pertains to my career goals? What are some other colleges overseas that i should look into too?

    Thanks in advance for being so helpful! 8D

  40. Hi, Elijah,
    It sounds like you have made some good choices. There are other universities that we might add to the list, but I’d need to know more about music, more about your desire for AP credit, and also about whether you seek merit based financial aid. We review lists for students as consultants, and we’d be happy to help you with your. Let us know if this is something you think we can be helpful in doing.


  41. Mark,

    As a current college student, I vouch for the dual enrollment option when high school students are looking through their course options. I went to a very small, rural high school in Virginia, and had the opportunity to take DE credit classes through local community colleges. I finished at the top of my class and I am currently an academic junior at the College of William and Mary.
    During my freshman year in college, I came to find that a majority of my friends took AP classes, got an A or a high B in the class, but couldn’t get a 4 or 5 on their AP exam (mind you, these students came from great private and public high schools all over the country, each with its own long standing AP track). William and Mary requires a score of 4 or 5 to get the credit from an AP course. I can’t tell you how many of my friends got burned by taking AP. All 39 of my dual enrollment credits tranferred and I am graduating in 3 years.
    A lot of really great colleges and universities require high AP scores, so it is very important to do your research on the school you wish to attend. Taking an AP class may look good on a transcript, but how good will it look when the student doesn’t pass the exam with the neccessary score? I feel like AP is put up on this pedestal as being the best of the best. However, there is nothing wrong with dual enrollment classes, and taking DE doesn’t mean that one could not handle the supposed “harder” AP course load. I can assure you, the classes I took through my governor’s school were more than challenging.
    Best of luck,


  42. Sarah. Thanks for your comment. If you don’t mind, I’m going to reproduce your note in its entirety and link it back to the original post. There’s nothing like a true testimonial like yours to help convince others that they should consider all the options before making assumptions that one track is better than the next. I very much appreciate that you took the time to write us. Best wishes!

  43. My daughter recently graduated in June 2011 from a Florida high school and took DE coursework. FL awards equal quaility points for all acceleration programs. My daughter is now enrolled as a sophomore at the University of MS. Every class she took through DE transferred to that University. She was highly recruited from colleges across the country and all awarded the same admissions quality points to DE as they did AP. Colleges and Universities are now realizing that success in a college course is the greater predictor of college success.

  44. Absolutely! Doing well in a college level course is a great indicator of student success. It is a fantastic learning experience for students as well. Thanks for your comment!

  45. I am currently in the IB program going into my junior year, however I feel i will enjoy greater success while dual enrolling because there are less restrictions on what classes you have to take (no foreign language for four years, etc.). My parents have left the decision up to me because up till now i have maintained straight A’s, and they feel I am responsible enough. If I am planning to go to UF, would you recommend staying in IB, or dual-enrolling?

  46. I was just looking up opinions to help guide by daughter as she enters HS for her options and came upon this. It has been helpful. Personally, I attended a local community college for PSEO and did very well for my entire junior summer and senior year. My mother was a resourceful woman, and although the schools fought students enrolling in this at the tme, she pushed through. She did legwork and checked with the PRIVATE COLLEGE that I was planning to attend in the medical career for the following year… then she ensured the pre-req classes I was taking at the community college would indeed transfer. I actually detested history, had begun taking a history class at the college and during the time span of knowing I wouldn’t do well, I dropped the class so it wouldn’t apply to my grades or $$$. I took 1 semester class of poly sci at the HS and then all the rest of my classes at the college. I graduated HS with approx 26-30 credit hrs paid in full and went on to college allowing myself a lighter load. I WILL NEVER REGRET WHAT I DID!!! Excellent experience and saved me much much money at the private school I attended.

    I don’t know much about the IB program… but looks like I’ll probably guide my daughter towards the same route I took. We’ll see.

  47. I am a high school freshman, last year in junior high (weird I know). I have two high school options, one school with AP only, the other IB and a few arts AP courses. (both offer PSEO at the UoMN and a community college)I live in Minnesota, and am aiming for Ivy League, MIT, or Cal Tech. I am heavily interested in science, math, and computers. Including things like weighted GPA, which would you suggest is best course for me?
    Side note: I don’t just want boring easy classes, I also want to LEARN, but not sacrifice a good college like MIT. Also I am in Spanish 3 and Orchestra.

  48. Hello everyone! I am a college testing coordinator, and I have to tell you that I think the conversation going on here is a fabulous one. My kids will never take AP courses. With that said, let me tell you why. Mark has said several times that “it depends” on any number of indicators what option is the best for your child. While both our college, and our high school have some fabulous instructors, like everywhere, we have our duds. The husband/wife team who teach junior year AP English/History here insist that they be taken together, or not at all. The kids receive a packet from each teacher in July, with quite a bit of reading and homework that has to be completed prior to the first day of class. As Mark has noted, the end result of all of this work – and many nights of midnight studying – all depends on the score they receive on the test whether they get college credit for it or not. I paid for my sophomore to take math here at the college because the math teacher at the high school teaches in a monotone. He loved it. I am fortunate because I know the instructors here, so I can help him choose those that are great at their jobs. If you do not have that edge, feel free to have your child keep their ears open for feedback on instructors. We are also utilizing CLEP credits to complete his Associate’s degree ahead of schedule. Like with everything else, you have to be certain of what credit will be granted in the end, but he will be done with both community college and high school at the same time.

  49. Hello,

    It sounds like you have high aspirations, which is great! One thing to think about is that there is AP Computer Science (though I am not sure that it is offered at your high school) and I don’t believe their are computer science classes in the IB curriculum. The AP curriculum provides a lot of flexibility, allowing students to take course that interest them. The IB Diploma is seen as the most challenging curriculum you can take and it really focuses on encouraging students to well-rounded, active learners. I think the question you need to ask yourself is how much structure do you want in high school courses?

    If you have any further questions, please feel free to give us a call: +1.720.279.7577

    Katherine Price
    Senior Associate

  50. Hello,

    It is difficult for us to assess the chances of you being admitted to a particular school without viewing your entire profile. In the grand scheme of things, you need to make the decision that is best for you.

    Katherine Price
    Senior Associate

  51. Wow mark I TRULY enjoyed reading this article!!! My daughter got accepted to a Cambridge program at her charter school for 7th grade. I really wasn’t that excited but went ahead. Your article really explained to me the difference between ap & dual enrollment. Due to personal demands, dual enrollment is the way to go. It seems Cambridge focues on either being a doctor or lawyer which neither is where we want to go. What are some steps we can take now to prepare her for dual enrollment? She will be taking algebra one this year in 7th grade so is there any other classes she could take to get her on the right path? Thanks a lot!

  52. Hi, Crystal,
    Glad you found the article helpful. All you really need to do is help your daughter perform well. If she’s taking algebra already, then she should be well-prepared to enter some dual enrollment courses. Check with her intended high school in order to understand the policies and the options available.
    Good luck!

  53. I am currently working for IB certificates in several areas. While I know I can get college credits in these areas I have begun to wonder if I may be able to recieve more course credits at a quicker rate by simply duel enrolling with a local university. Any options or past experiences?

  54. Hi Grant,
    Different colleges have different policies regarding the college credits they will accept from IB vs. a local university. I would encourage you to check with the colleges that you are interested to confirm their policy. Thanks!

  55. Hello! I have a question that if my son applies and got accepted to a dual enrollment program, does it mean he will spend his full-time school year for this dual enrollment program in college instead of going to HS for his senior year?

  56. My son is entering an AICE Cambridge program in Florida. However, he is looking into going either Harvard, Yale, MIT or Columbia (North). Because he is a very good student, they are offering dual enrollment by 10th grade through a local college recognized in Florida and he is also starting to do one AP class. Which route would you recommend to go? He is concerned about AICE program not having enough weight as an AP course for admittance…
    Thank you.

  57. Hi Leslie,
    I am also a mom in Florida who was very confused about the Aice program, My oldest son just applied to Cornell and is also applying to many of the schools that you son plan on applying to. In speaking to teachers at the high school and guidance councilors I was told that AICE is for the students that are good, but not quite AP level. If you get an AICE diploma your SAT and ACT scores don’t count towards you getting a bright futures scholarship. It doesn’t sound like your son will be using bright futures though. I also called Harvard and Yale and asked what they thought of AICE courses and the admissions officers didn’t even know what they were. They definitely recommended AP.
    What I have gathered from dual enrollment vs AP is that if you are planning on applying to Ivy schools probably AP is better. Ivy’s like to have the standardized national AP test which to judge the applicants by. If you plan on going to a Florida state or a state university in another state dual enrollment might be better. Many state universities accept the courses taken from dual enrollment therefore saving money and time. Ivy’s rarely accept any credits from high school.

  58. Hi! SO I just got done with freshman IB and it too stressful for me. But multiple f my friends in college said that your IB credits don’t transfer as much as Dual Enrollment. So if I go to sophomore year at my public school and start Dual would that be okay? I just don’t know which one to choose Dual or IB.

    Also, when does DUal Enrollment start? 10th 11th or 12th grade?

    Please reply back ASAP. Thank you! I really need some help.

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