Many public schools across the United States have accelerated credit opportunities for students to earn college credit while they are in high school. While dual enrollment and advanced placement exams are great opportunities, there are some key differences that you should be aware of. The term class and course are used interchangeably.

Dual Enrollment vs. Advanced Placement

Dual Enrollment – 

Qualified students can participate in a program known as Dual Enrollment (DE). Each program can vary by state, so the following information is specific to the state of Florida. The Dual Enrollment program in Florida is governed by the Florida Department of Education and Florida Statute, with an articulation agreement between public community colleges or state colleges. Students who are attending a public school, private school, or are home schooled may be eligible to participate.  There is no cost for students. Students do not pay for tuition and text books. There may be exceptions if the course(s) require an access code. An access code allows students to access additional online content or study material.

Dual Enrollment classes are college-level courses. These are the same classes the students enrolled in the community college, state college, or university are taking as part of their degrees. Your peers may be 18 years old – senior citizens. These classes may be more rigorous and the instructor or professor may have higher expectations than a high school teacher.

Courses that students take as part of a dual enrollment program also count towards the required classes to earn a high school diploma. Students will earn college credit if the dual enrollment courses are passed and these courses will contribute to a college GPA. The GPA is part of an official record. Failing and/or withdrawing from courses will have a negative impact.

In the event a student applies to a state college, community college, or university, they must provide official an official transcript from the institution they attended for Dual Enrollment. A poor GPA can jeopardize a student’s status in the Dual Enrollment program and admission into a college or university. Credits earned through Dual Enrollment may be used towards an Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree and can be transferred to a university. For instance, if a student takes POS 2041 – Political Science, it is worth 3 credit hours. Passing this class may satisfy a student’s high school civic literacy requirement and a student can transfer this course to a public college or university.

Advanced Placement – 

Students enrolled in Advanced Placement (AP) classes and take them at their high school. At the end of the year, students must pay to take an exam. If a student demonstrates financial need, they may be eligible for a reduction in cost. As of February 2022, the exam fee in the US is $96.00. The reduced fee is $34.00

Students will earn either a 1-5. For the majority of the exams, students must score a 3 or higher to be eligible for college credit. AP exams have no impact on a student’s college GPA, but there is also no guarantee that they will pass the exam, and earn college credit.

Each college or university should have an accelerated credit opportunity or exam credit chart in their undergraduate catalog. This is typically in the form of a table that lists the exam name and possible college credit based on the score. For instance, if a student took AP Govt. and Politics: United States, a score of a 3, 4, or 5 will earn them college credit of POS 2041, 3 credit hours, at the University of Florida. If a student earns a 1 or 2, then they will not earn college-credit at the University of Florida.

Some majors or graduate programs, such as medical school, may not accept dual enrollment credit towards their program. If this is the case, the student will need to take the course at the college-level.


These are other accelerated credit tests opportunities for students. The same rules apply with Advanced Placement. However, each exam can have different scores.

Class standing and AA degrees – 

I have worked with many students who were admitted as a freshman, but due to their DE and/or AP credits, they were a sophomore or junior by class standing. Earning DE and/or AP credits can significantly reduce the number of credit hours required for a baccalaureate degree. Which also means a substantial savings in tuition.

  • 0 – 29 college credits = Freshman, by class standing
  • 30 – 59 college credits = Sophomore, by class standing
  • 60 – 89 college credits = Junior, by class standing
  • 90 + college credits = Senior, by class standing

To recap –

Dual Enrollment is free. Courses taken allow students to earn college credit, but also apply to high school diploma graduation requirements. Students earn a college GPA which cannot be expunged. It is part of their permanent record.

While there is no cost for student to take Advanced Placement classes in high school, they must pay to sit for the exam. College credit is not guaranteed as is determined by a student’s final score. While these may earn student’s college credit, they do not count towards a student’s college GPA. Depending on the student’s major or if they want to attend graduate school, some programs may not accept test credit. In these cases, students must take the course at the college-level.

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