Early College Programs Give Students a Jumpstart

The options for early college programs available to students today are much more varied and valuable than those of more than a generation ago. I remember going to a fine high school and taking the only Advanced Placement (AP) course that was offered. I did well and earned six college credits.

Today’s choices vary in name but involve the same, basic idea: rigorous courses can be taken for credit on a high school transcript as well as college.

These Early College programs are often referred to as Advanced Placement (AP), dual enrollment, concurrent enrollment, dual or concurrent credit, and Post-Secondary Education Options (PSEO).

The advantages include:

  • Students and parents save money in several different ways, one of which is reducing the overall time spent at a post-secondary institution.
  • Students enter college with credits already earned, sometimes beginning their first year with the equivalent of a college semester already earned.
  • Students become familiar with the procedures, calendars,  and rigors of a college course.
  • Students improve their admissions profile for prospective colleges and universities.

Also, according to a study from the Office of Institutional Research for the Oregon University System),:

  • Dual credit students are more likely than their classmates to attend college. Within the dual credit population, 81.4% were enrolled in some form of post-secondary education by the winter after graduation, compared to 72.6% of the overall high school class.
  • Students who take dual credit courses earn higher grades in high school and are more likely to continue to the second year of college.
  • Among freshmen who continue to the second year of college, dual credit participants earn a higher first year GPA.”
  • Students who continue to the second year of college accumulate more college credit if they take dual credit in high school.


Early College opportunities are poised for growth. According to the NACEP, “In an otherwise divisive political environment, the benefits of dual and concurrent enrollment continue to be supported by both sides of the aisle.  Education committees in both the U.S. House and Senate unanimously passed amendments this summer supporting dual and concurrent enrollment during debates over the re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.”

More than 75 percent of K12’s managed schools that serve 11th and 12th graders have early college programs and more are planned for the future.

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