Students get jump on college - JHS offers college-level creditsOver the past few years, a student taking college-level classes at the high school level has become a nationwide trend.
By: Celeste Beam, Alexandria Echo Press
Over the past few years, a student taking college-level classes at the high school level has become a nationwide trend.
High schools across the country are now offering more ways for students to earn those college credits before they even graduate from high school.
And Jefferson High School (JHS) in Alexandria is no exception.
In fact, the school recently published a brochure about the many different options available for students to earn college credits.
JHS guidance counselors, Marilyn Orgaard and Linda Maiers, stressed, however, that before students try to earn college credits at the high school level, they need to do some planning and researching, and talk about their options with their parents and school counselors.
“Once students decide to sign up for it, it’s a good idea for them to be committed,” said Maiers. “There is a two-thirds completion rule and they can be put on academic probation if they don’t finish.”
Orgaard added that students can jeopardize their financial aid when they get to college if they drop or don’t finish their college credits while in high school.
JHS added course options for college-level credits to help students prepare for life after high school.
The options include advanced placement (AP) courses, College Level Exam Programs (CLEP), dual credit and articulated credit courses.
Maiers and Orgaard explained the different options.
First, there is dual credit or concurrent enrollment. Through a partnership with different colleges, including Alexandria Technical College (ATC), the high school offers college courses, which are taught during the regular school day by high school teachers who are selected and supported by college and university faculty.
For the dual credit option, Maiers noted that there are 11 different course offerings, which are primarily for 11th and 12th grade students.
Orgaard also noted that it is always the receiving school – or college – that determines how a student’s credits, which were received at high school, will be applied at the college level.
Students who choose the dual credit option must meet the guidelines of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system. Guidelines may include college admissions testing, such as the ACT test or another assessment, or class rank and/or cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher.
Another option for students to earn college credits is to take AP classes.
AP classes, according to Orgaard, have been around for the longest period of time and are more well known nationwide.
If a student attends a college out of state, it’s more likely the AP course work will be recognized. She also noted that AP classes are more rigorous.
AP options are available in English literature and composition, U.S. history, calculus, statistics, biology, chemistry and music theory.
Students enrolled in AP classes must take exams, which are offered in May. If a student scores well, a participating college will award the student college credits.
There is a fee for the exam, but Maiers pointed out that the state kicks in a portion of the fee. The cost per exam is $13. If a student had to pay for the whole portion, it would cost anywhere from $80 to $90.
College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) is another option for students.
Orgaard said CLEP is similar to AP and that the two options were meant to complement each other. After students take the designated courses, they take a CLEP test to find out if they can earn the college credit for each class.
Students must earn a 50 percent or higher score on each test in order to receive the credit, said Maiers.
Currently, there are 2,900 colleges that grant credit and/or advance standing for CLEP exams. There is a fee of between $15 and $25 per CLEP test.
Two other options include Project Lead the Way, which is a program that focuses on engineering and other applied math, science and technology areas; and Tech Prep, which is intended to provide technical and community college credits to students.
Tech Prep, which is also referred to as articulated credit courses, is an agreement between JHS and ATC.
A student who takes one of the nine course offerings and receives a grade of B or better will receive a certificate to present to the ATC. Students must request the transfer of their course work to the ATC within two years of high school graduation to earn the college credit for the particular course, including keyboarding, Microsoft Office applications and accounting, to name a few.
“We really want students to do some planning and decide which program is going to work best for them,” said Orgaard. “Getting college credit just for the sake of getting college credit isn’t going to help. Students and their families need to plan ahead.”
Maiers added that one of the biggest benefits for students to try and obtain college credits is money. But she feels that taking college-level course at the high school level will better prepare students for when they are actually in college. Both Orgaard and Maiers have heard from colleges that students are not as prepared as they should be.
Currently at JHS, between 12 to 15 percent of students are participating in AP or dual credit classes, said Orgaard. Many students are enrolled in articulated credit courses.
For more information about earning college credits while still in high school, students or their parents should call the guidance office at (320) 762-7753.
The advantages to participating in courses that allow students to earn colleges credits include:
Saving money on college tuition, fees and books before a student graduates from high school.
Allowing students to stay on their high school campus and receive college credits.
Jump starting a student’s college education.
Better preparing students for post-secondary success.
Stretching a student academically.