AP vs. Dual Enrollment: Which One’s Better?



AP Government and Politics Textbook, Maryland High School Diploma, Governor Thomas Johnson High School AP Patriot Scholar Award

Taylor Johnson, Writer

AP® exam season is right around the corner and the argument between Dual Enrollment courses and AP classes heightens once again. The conflict between these two college-credit-earning institutions goes: which one is better? AP credit is more widely accepted than FCC credit, but AP credit is not promised as students have to attain a certain score on their AP exams for transferring credit to be a possibility. Current and previous students give their take on which one is better — if there is one.

Governor Thomas Johnson High School ‘21 Alum and AP and Dual Enrollment veteran, Averey Johnson, says that AP classes have benefited her because, “A lot of the things I’ve learned in AP classes have proven helpful in college classes that I’m in now. I’ve also placed out of a lot of classes because of AP.”

When asked about the disadvantages of AP courses, she responds, “The advertising of receiving college credit is very misleading when you take AP classes because you are still paying $100 for an exam that you may or may not pass, and even if you score high, a school may or may not accept it. I think it is predatory to convince high school students that the only path to success in college is to load up on APs. There seems to be this perception that taking AP classes is the only way to make a transcript look good enough to be accepted by good schools, when that is not the only path to success and getting accepted into colleges for sure. When students load up on APs because they think that that is their golden ticket to getting into college, they get burnt out in high school doing all of these incredibly rigorous classes, knowing that the have to take a very difficult exam at the end of it. I can say that I really didn’t feel like a student again until my first semester of my sophomore year of college because of how burned out I was from AP classes in high school…and I didn’t even take that many in comparison to a lot of other students who take eight, nine, or ten AP classes in their high school career.”

When asked how Dual Enrollment classes benefited Averey, she responds, “Dual Enrollment classes didn’t benefit me as much credit wise as AP. And being able to actually be with a professor is a very different vibe than being in an AP classroom with a high school teacher. Also, taking classes on a high school schedule so that you’re not in class five days a week in college generally…but it [dual enrollment classes] helps you get used to that college structure of classes and having midterms and finals…and getting used to how courses function at the postgraduate level. Most of the peers that you’re with are also currently in college or at different spots in their life when you take classes at a community college and a lot of older adults for whatever they’re looking to pursue. It helps to have a much wider range of perspectives when you’re not just with people within a year or two of you in age.”

Averey Johnson, GTJHS 2021 Alum, AP Patriot Scholar, Sophomore and
Student-Athlete at Oberlin College and Conservatory (Taylor)

Lastly, when asked if she would recommend the AP or Dual Enrollment pathway to current or incoming high school students, Averey responds, “Currently, I would recommend Dual Enrollment because it is not worth it to sacrifice your high school career worrying about something as silly as an AP exam — worrying about taking a class under the promise that you might get college credit eventually if you pay for a $100 test that you might or might not pass. Your schedule would be much more flexible so you can do many more things if you do the Dual Enrollment route and actually learn what it’s like to exist in a college schedule and have a college amount of time to do work because high school does not emulate that whatsoever.”

GTJHS Sophomore and AP Student Chloe-Rose Barnes responds to how AP classes have benefited her: “I feel like the workload is a lot heavier so you’re challenged a lot more than you are in honors or merit classes. It’s also a good way to test yourself in that subject.” When asked if AP or Dual Enrollment courses interest her more, she responds, “As of right now, Dual Enrollment courses interest me a lot more because the experience that I’ve had with AP hasn’t been that positive, and I think that Dual Enrollment is a more sophisticated way of doing it [earning college credit] without the stress of tests and exams.”

While AP classes offer rigor and expectation unlike any other course offered to students in high school, it is often questioned whether the stress and unlikelihood of credits transferring to colleges is worth the trouble. However, with Dual Enrollment courses that students can take at FCC or Hood College that give the class structure as an actual college experience, there is even a more limited chance that those credits would transfer to another educational institution. Ultimately, it varies between each student, their career ambitions, desired education after high school, and the amount of pressure they are willing to be under to earn college credit before they even step on a college campus.