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Articles / Applying to College / Which is Preferable: "College Credit" Classes or AP Classes?

Which is Preferable: "College Credit" Classes or AP Classes?

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | July 13, 2013

Question: Our high school offers both College Credit and AP classes. Taking college credit classes seems like a smart way to save a semester (or possibly two) from the cost of “real” college. Are college credit classes looked upon less favorably by colleges than AP classes? Thanks for your help.

In order to answer your question completely responsibly, “The Dean” would need to know more about the “college credit” classes at your child’s high school. But, speaking generally (and thus not necessarily accurately), it’s likely that these credits will not be widely accepted. I’m guessing that these classes are sponsored by a specific college or university and that your high school probably has an arrangement with this school that allows the credits to be valid if a student enrolls there. It’s also possible that the credits are valid at all or most public universities in your state and perhaps at both private and public schools beyond it …especially the less selective ones.

However … the more selective colleges and universities typically do notaccept college credits that served as high school credits. But most of these institutions DO accept AP credits (depending on which classes a student took and how well he or she scored on the AP exam).

Admission officials at the very selective colleges usually view AP classes as more rigorous (and thus more desirable) than “college credit classes.” But, again, I’m hesitant to generalize because this may vary from high school to high school and I don’t know the specifics here.

Before deciding which courses your child will take, you should ask the high school guidance counselor where the “college credits” are accepted. And if the counselor says “Everywhere,” be wary.


Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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