Making the Decision Between AP and DE: What Choice is Best For You?

Juniors Jamie Prack, Maya Lombardo, Anna Lippert, and Hope Fahrner studying for AP classes. Photo taken by Annie Gilbert.

Juniors Jamie Prack, Maya Lombardo, Anna Lippert, and Hope Fahrner studying for AP classes. Photo taken by Annie Gilbert.

Written by Annie Gilbert, Emma Tetreault, and Ainsleigh Shipp

As Advanced Placement and Dual Enrollment classes are becoming more popular, making the decision between the two can be very stressful for high school students, especially with the multitude of benefits for each class. The opportunity to receive college credit in high school can give students a huge leg-up in college, but without clear information, it may be difficult to tell which class is most an appropriate for you.

AP classes follow College Board’s AP curriculum, and because of this, many colleges across the nation will accept these credits with a passing exam score.

AP classes are mainly based around preparing for the exam throughout the school year and offer a 1.0 GPA bump in Loudoun. With AP exams, students will be scored on a grading scale of 1-5. Most colleges will accept a four or five while some others will also accept a three as college credit.

For example, recent Woodgrove graduate Kevin Crandall said,“University of California San Diego only accepts one AP test for English, so taking the AP Lit test would not have helped me with obtaining college credits in high school.”

Checking with college admissions officers will help determine what classes to take. Even if a college won’t accept more than one AP score for a particular subject, that doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t benefit you from having that additional class on your high school transcript. Some smaller private schools will accept more credits as well.

Different universities will accept varying credits, so research is a crucial part of the admissions process. Searching on college admission websites such as Naviance can be very helpful, as well as contacting college admissions offices.

DE classes, on the other hand, also offer a 1.0 GPA bump in Loudoun County but do not have a required exam at the end of the year. Instead, to get college credit for these classes, students are required to obtain at least a C as their final grade. Although there is no exam, students require prior placement testing to take classes. While some classes are willing to accept the PSAT, others need to have a minimum score on the SAT or VPT (Virginia Placement Test). A common misconception among students is that Dual Enrollment classes aren’t accepted in out-of-state colleges. This is, in fact, false. Northern Virginia Community College’s website (NVCC) has information about in-state and out-of-state colleges that will accept DE credits. Students planning to take a Dual Enrollment class also need to enroll on NVCC’s, website, and fill out an enrollment form. On this form, students will provide their test scores and the classes they plan to take.

Because AP and DE are college level classes, talking to upperclassmen can help make the decision process easier for students. Senior Kendall Briscoe has taken both AP and DE classes. She said, “AP classes are a lot more focused on preparing for the exam than anything else, and DEs are a lot, and I mean a lot, more writing because of the long essays you have to write. These are typically either five pages every quarter or ten pages every semester, depending on the class and the teacher, and there is often a lot more reading.”

While one is not necessarily better than the other, students should make their decision based on their own college interests. So, doing research on colleges that interest you, as well as talking to your counselor can help give you an idea of which class is best for you.

Counseling Director Geri Fiore said, “Stick with it. Stick with it because it is going to be challenging whether its AP or Dual Enrollment. Students are going to be pushed to go deeper in the literature, or deeper in the textbook, or their writing is going to be pushed in an area were its never gone before, and that takes work and perseverance.”