Column: Clash of classes
TRL's Kelsey Carroll and Lulu Butler share their contrasting views on college-level courses
September 18, 2019
Dual Credit develops skills
As I eagerly anticipated senior year I looked forward to a lot of things: the variety of fun traditions like senior overalls, football games, a higher level of freedom and of course the classes I would be able to take. Every year, seniors are given the option to decide what type of course load they’d like to maintain throughout the year whether that be taking multiple AP classes or multiple Dual Credit classes, and for me, it was quite an easy decision.
Dual credit classes, which I chose to take, are real college classes with real professors from Collin Community College who come to the school to teach their specified course. These classes help you prepare for a typical college course load by giving you a small taste of what is expected of you, but within a high school setting.
I’ve already noticed a drastic difference between normal high school classes and my dual credit courses. These college-level classes put a large emphasis on independent work and practice. The professors are great teachers and share huge amounts of their knowledge with you, however, they don’t care if you listen, pay attention, or succeed for that matter because YOU are paying to take THEIR class. If you want to pass these types of courses, you have to maintain discipline and hard work because your teacher isn’t holding you hand through the process. Although it may seem harsh, this is exactly what will be expected of anyone who attends a university, especially in large classes when the professor has over 100 students to teach. In this respect, it is extremely beneficial to take courses like these and develop the necessary skills before you enter into any college environment.
Although the dual credit classes are challenging, they are less demanding than AP in the workload. A big part of my decision to take all three dual credits offered over all AP classes was so that I would have more time to enjoy my last year of high school, which is, truthfully, not easy if you take all AP classes. With very demanding extracurriculars as well, I felt that dual credit offered challenging, but doable classes that I could handle on top of other responsibilities. Dual credit classes also provide an easier way to receive college credit by requiring that you maintain a C (70%) in order to pass and receive college credit, whereas in AP courses, you have to score a three, four, or five on the grueling AP exam in order for colleges to accept the credit. Not only is it taxing to study and prepare for such difficult exams, but most colleges don’t even accept the credit for the class unless you earn a four or a five on the initial exam. Although this may be realistic for some, you take the risk of wasting a whole year of studying, stressing, and cramming for a test that may not even reward you with college credit.
And of course, the most popular reason students take dual credit, is because you have the opportunity to have days off of these specific classes and an off period everyday, depending on how you arrange your schedule. This year, I have an off period every day in third period to use as I wish, as well as a later arrival time in the morning. Despite the nice break from school, this time off is also very similar to what your college schedule will look, as most colleges offer the opportunity to either take morning or afternoon classes, then have the rest of the day off.
Dual credit prepares students for a real college experience because it’s a real college environment. It helps develop skills, like being independent, and teaches responsibility before students are thrown into the real world of education. It provides a more realistic, achievable way to receive actual college credit and get ahead in your education before you even leave high school. And, most importantly, it gives you a little extra time to take that highly-coveted nap.
AP worth the work
Despite hearing four years worth of “senior year’s a blowoff,” here I am, sitting in six AP classes, waiting out the days until graduation. Neverending essays, unceasing FRQs and three books to analyze before October, man, junior year is looking easy in comparison.
Although the workload is definitely resulting in slowly decreasing amounts of sleep each night, I’m excited to end my high school career with such challenging courses. Because of the unsuredness of where I hope to attend college, most likely out of state, dual-credit wasn’t the plan for me and I stuck with the good ol’ College Board for yet another year.
It may be a risky move, but taking AP classes could result in me gaining college credits for various math, English, and history courses I might take entering college. It’s a long shot, but this year alone could help me knock out six college credits, plus another six from my other three years of school combined. I’ll have to wait for those two dreadful weeks in May to find out.
The risk and workload are worth it. The school year has just begun, but I’ve learned more in my AP classes than anything I could’ve learned a Pre-AP or dual credit course. With an AP Literature assignment due five weeks down the road and an AP Statistics quiz next Monday, prioritizing my work and my time has become easier and easier to do the longer I’m exposed to high caliber assignments each day. Creating mental (and physical) checklists has become part of my daily routine, keeping me responsible for my own productivity.
Along with the responsibility of keeping up with assignments comes being responsible for my own knowledge. Outside of class learning has become a key component in my senior year, whether it be figuring out what literary analysis is made of through correcting my own mistakes on each essay, or challenging myself by working through physics concepts I just learned that morning. With great instruction from my teachers and classmates, I’m able to take what I’ve just learned and master it on my own time in order to prepare myself for what’s to come, a skill I know will become useful both in college and whatever comes next.
I’ve made sacrifices when it comes to such a chaotic course load. There’s no off periods to unwind during the day, and most of my nights are spent chipping through pieces of long term projects or cramming for my next test that week. In the moment, the work can get overwhelming, but I know the effort I’m putting in now will benefit me in the future when it comes to staying focused in my dorm room. Besides, I can’t think of another time I’ll get to learn so many things most high school classes don’t cover in a regular agenda. Art history, macroeconomics and government, and the physics behind electricity and magnetism are just a couple of the subjects I can’t imagine leaving high school without taking the chance of being exposed to.
I know it’ll be a long year, but I know I won’t regret my choices because hey, what is there to lose?