How to use all those credit hours going in to college?

Click here to go to the NEW College Discussion Forum

Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: How to use all those credit hours going in to college?
By Whatella (Whatella) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 10:26 am: Edit

First child (yes, experimental)has many credit hours going in to college. Any suggestions on the best way to use these credits?

Son is undecided on major, though it will probably lead to grad school. Double major, graduate in 3 years, or relax and enjoy the experience?

Pertinent factors: We will pay 4 years of son's education. Also, son just turned 18 but is quite responsible.

Thanks for sharing!

By Hoosfun (Hoosfun) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 10:33 am: Edit

Apply the credits to whatever general education requirements he can... if 4 years of college is not a financial hardship then I think you'll probably find that your S will find more classes he wants to take than he could every hope to.

If the [to me] unthinkable should happen and your son finds he does not enjoy college, he will have the ability to graduate early - but I really can't imagine giving up a single year of this glorious experience we call college... =)

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 11:15 am: Edit

It will be up to the college they choose.
If you mean AP credits, most schools restrict dependent on grade of test. Can either be used to place into higher level class but not affect total credits recieved by college too much, or can actually be used to totally replace a class.
Community college classes or university classes are also transferable, but again depends on the accepting university.
I am assuming that these classes are on top of high school graduation requirements, coursework taken in high school can generally not be used for both high school and college credit.
If the school is rigorous, you may find that it is important to use credits as electives and take the same distribution requirements as other students ( school may require this anyway)
The best bet is to simply check with the school, Public universities seem most likely to allow us of AP credits as replacement of classes and allow early graduation, private LACs seem least likely.
Much depends on major and what area the classes are in. Some departments prefer that students take the intro clases rather than place out, others will be fine with simply taking higher division classes.
In any case, it sounds that his college courses leave him well prepared for college!

By Marite (Marite) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 11:24 am: Edit

Assuming that the college is one where a student can gain Advanced (sophomore) Standing through AP and/or cc credit, and assuming that the student has enough credits to earn AS,
the student can:
--graduate early
--double major
--obtain a dual degree if such is offered
--take a year off and still graduate with his or her class.

A large number of students arrive at colleges eligible for AS. Many of them do declare their intention of graduating early (in 3 years), but change their minds some time in the second and third year. I actually met a young man who dithered until nearly a month before Commencement, then decided to stay the full four years.

My conclusion: Sign up for early graduation but keep an open mind about staying the full four years.

By Iflyjets (Iflyjets) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 11:49 am: Edit

My D is using hers to spend time abroad without having to rush coursework required for graduation that might not be available abroad. In addition, her credits will also allow her to enter upper division courses rather than freshmen-level courses.

By Alongfortheride (Alongfortheride) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 12:28 pm: Edit

Son is thinking that he will use the year of credits to double major and adjust his course load to accomodate those demanding semesters.

By Pafather (Pafather) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 08:25 pm: Edit

My son is in a similar situation. Between AP credits and college courses, he has 30 semester hours of credit. He knows that if he pushes himself, he could fairly easily graduate in 3 years. Fortunately, his full-tuition scholarship covers 8 semesters, independent of whether it is undergrdauate or graduate school (but it won't pay for professional schools). While he would like to finish college quickly before attending law school, he has always looked forward to spending his junior year abroad, and also he would like to double-major. I have advised him to take his time. If he really wants to graduate in 3 1/2 years, that would be OK, but we feel it would be much better for him to take a challenging course load and excel, rather than take the bare minimum and squeak out a degree a year faster. I have a technical background, but my son has more of a liberal arts bent. I think particularly for his major, living somewhere else in the world for a semester or two may be extremely beneficial.

By Patient (Patient) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 08:54 pm: Edit

For athletes, it is a real help to have the AP credits. They can then either take a lighter load in their first year, giving them a little breathing room to adapt to the rigorous combination of college athletics with demanding course of study; or, for those likely to be drafted into the professional ranks after three years, they will have sufficient credits to graduate in that period of time.
(This information passed on from an acquaintance whose son is a sophomore and D1 athlete in college)

By Geniusash (Geniusash) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 08:57 pm: Edit

Pafather, I am in the same situation is your son! It's a great place to be, really. What is he planning on majoring in?

By Pafather (Pafather) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 10:25 pm: Edit


My son intends to major in history and math. In terms of study abroad, he was especially interested in a program that includes a semester at the war college in London, but at USC that is only for International Relations majors. He really wants to spend at least a semester in England, and then possibly a semester somewhere else.

By Whatella (Whatella) on Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - 11:01 am: Edit

Thanks for the thoughts.

I'm all for taking full advantage of the undergrad experience (how can one understand all the references in The Simpsons without a broad education?) while my husband, the thrifty engineer, is more goal oriented. Son is fortunate to have miniscule tuition due to school's 3/4, nat'l merit, byrd, etc. and it seems a shame to me not to maximize that situation and reward son's achievements with a generous timetable. Husband is more inclined to see the advantage of our 4th year's money going toward grad school.

Ultimately, son will be the one to decide, but I've seen no compelling reason to hurry through.

By Marite (Marite) on Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - 11:24 am: Edit


I have met many goal-oriented engineers. Whether they graduated early or not, they have all expressed regret at not taking more courses outside their majors while in college. Once a student is in graduate school, that luxury is largely gone. There are just so many interesting college courses available, it would be a shame not to sample some of them or to take advantage of the opportunity to study abroad.

By Simba (Simba) on Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - 03:56 pm: Edit

Agree with Marite about the courses. Graduate schools would be more focused. Also, for engineering (I think) they pay you to go to graduate school.

By Frazzled_One (Frazzled_One) on Thursday, August 12, 2004 - 08:02 am: Edit

My d decided to pursue a double major with the freedom from basic courses her AP credits afforded her. There have been some pros and cons to going in with advanced standing. The housing lottery at her school is based on seniority, as most are, so she was able to enter the lottery as a junior when she was a chronological sophomore, and has been able to choose as a senior her last 2 years. She was offered the higher junior year Stafford loan amount (5500 vs. 3250) as a sophomore, though she only accepted the lower amount (didn't really need more in loans).

One surprising drawback was that she was expected to declare her major at the beginning of her sophomore year instead of the usual junior year, because she was a junior by credit hours. However, she had no idea she'd have to declare early based on courses she took in hs, and things started to get weird for her until she did (couldn't register online or do other stuff using the school's computer system). She met with the academic dean, who offered very little accommodation, though the dealine to declare a major was extended by two days. Daughter really had to scramble for an advisor and spent a few days missing classes to get the paperwork in. All has ended well, though - she could have graduated a semester early, but went for the 2nd major instead.

By Jenniferelaine (Jenniferelaine) on Thursday, August 12, 2004 - 03:36 pm: Edit


You say your son has "many" credit hours upon entering college, but do not specify how many.
I, too, had many hours upon entering college, 24 to be exact. These were CC and regular college hours, not AP, so they could not be rejected by my university. If your son has more hours, the double major in three years scenario may be easier for him.

I also am a double major and attempting to graduate in three years. When I entered school, I had all but 5 of my general education requirements taken care of, plus my forgein language requirement. That is 7 courses.

Of course, this may be different depending on the school and what he decides to major in. I had already picked one of my majors before I started school, and picked up the other at the semester.

What I'm slowly getting at is, if your son has already taken a lot of his general education requirements, his schedule may look a lot like mine. Graduating in three years isn't a picnic, and with a double major, you practically need a magic wand to get into the proper courses at the proper time. Because I am so strapped for time, I get to take no electives.

My schedule is: 3 Political Science courses, 2 English courses, 2 seminars.
Next semester: 3 English courses, 2 Political Science courses, 2 Seminars.
next year (my senior year) will look the same.

I still have 3 gen ed requirements to take, either next summer of the next J-term.

I'm not trying to discourage your son if this is what he wants to do. This is a scenario where one is very time-constrained, and is not left with much room to explore.

By Whatella (Whatella) on Thursday, August 12, 2004 - 04:51 pm: Edit

Jenniferelaine -

What a schedule you have! I never would have thought of double majoring in 3 years. You must be very highly motivated.

Son was awarded 48 credit hours for his APs, but I don't know exactly where that puts him in meeting general requirements.

Do you mind telling your majors and, if it's not too personal, why you've chosen to graduate in three years? That is, if you don't mind writing a little more on top of the writing-intensive schedule you have.


By Jenniferelaine (Jenniferelaine) on Thursday, August 12, 2004 - 08:28 pm: Edit


Do forgive me for mis-reading your origional post. I missed the comma between double-major and 3-years.

I am a double major in Political Science/English.
My concentrations within the majors are American Politics/Gov't and Forgein Policy/Gov't, and Literature.

I started with English as my major, and added Political Science at the end of my first semester. I wasn't allowed to declare a double major during my first semester even though I was considered to be a sophomore.

The seminars I take are not part of my degree program. One seminar is part of the honors program, and is typically something fun and without homework. The other seminar gives me academic credit for being on the Mock Trial team, which comes with too much homework when compared to that 1 free credit hour.

I have chosen to graduate in three years for a number of reasons, primarily financial ones. The first and foremost reason is that I attend a private university, and money isn't exactly flowing out of my ears. Since I had essentially already finished a year of college before entering college, does it not make sense to save a year's tuition? Secondly, I'm planning on attending law school after I finish college, and although an extra $20,000 might not seem like a lot when tacked onto the $100,000 I'll have in loans, I would just rather not be presented with that scenario.

However, I will have to enter the work force a year earlier...pity.

By Xiggi (Xiggi) on Friday, August 13, 2004 - 07:20 pm: Edit

I have a slightly different view on the issue of earning college credit while in high school. Like many others, I bought into the advanced credit system and accumulated sufficient credits to grant me junior standing -by the end of the Fall semester- at any of our Texas State schools.

At the school I will soon attend, the situation will be different as I will voluntarily forego all my credits. After checking the curriculum, I realized that it would be a mistake to assimilate AP or dual credits with the level of education at a higher institution. I do not consider it a loss as I will receive appropriate advanced placement.

I applaud the colleges that have started to place severe restrictions on credits earned in high school. I believe that credits should be used to access higher level classes but should not reduce the total amount of credits earned at the school granting the degree.

By Simba (Simba) on Friday, August 13, 2004 - 11:25 pm: Edit

Xiggi: I agree with you

I think there are two trends emerging. Top tier schools may give you credits for AP, but still 'expect' you to take same number of credit hours (~120) and graduate in 4 years. That is the message we got when visited Princeton and UPenn, and that is the story we hear from some one who is attending Stanford.

Public schools, on the other hand, have incentives to make you graduate early - reduces Tax $ and over crowding. I believe in Texas they even pay you to graduate early.

By Im_Blue (Im_Blue) on Friday, August 13, 2004 - 11:40 pm: Edit

Stanford allows up to 45 units (one year's worth) to be satisfied by a combination of AP, IB, or transfer credit. AP exams grant placement as well as credit, so you can graduate early by coming in with enough credits.

By Marite (Marite) on Saturday, August 14, 2004 - 12:03 am: Edit

Xiggi, I agree with you, too. The value of APs for my S is that the classes are the most challenging he can take in high school, not that they are the true equivalent of a college course. He will use his AP and college credits to secure placement into more advanced classes but will stay the full four years in college. The opportunity to take so many wonderful courses will not come again.

Report an offensive message on this page    E-mail this page to a friend
Posting is currently disabled in this topic. Contact your discussion moderator for more information.

Administrator's Control Panel -- Board Moderators Only
Administer Page