While performing well in rigorous high school coursework is the clearest predictor college success, selecting the type and level of high school classes should be made within the context of:

  1. Future college major
  2. Ability to perform well in the class
  3. Ability to further enhance your gifts and talents
  4. Potential for earning college credit
  5. They type and level of classes expected by the colleges to which you are planning to pursue admission

Your consideration for #4 and #5, will depend on classes that are offered in your school district and the type of college to which you are planning to pursue admission. For example, some colleges will not offer college credit for dual enrollment classes, while other colleges may not provide course credit or special consideration to AP or IB classes.

The Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and Dual Enrollment programs (also referred to as Early College and Middle College) are different programs, each offering rigorous course taking opportunities that vary by school and school district. Your coursework, grades, and AP/IB exam scores can potentially provide thousands of dollars in merit-based awards and college course credits. This activity will expand your understanding of each program and guide the conversation with your high school counselor to determine the best program for preparing you for the types of colleges to which you are considering applying for admission.

As you review your options in regard to the type (e.g., math, science, world language) and level of classes (i.e., honors, pre-AP, AP, dual enrollment), do so within the context of your interests, ability to perform well, desired college major, career aspirations, and selectivity of the colleges to which you plan to apply for admission. Clearly, this is a great deal to consider. If you have not decided on a college major or career, then you should consider classes that are academically challenging, and in which you believe you may earn a ‘B’ or better grade. Selective colleges want to see high academic performance (i.e., A’s) in the most challenging classes offered at your high school. If you can excel academically in the most rigorous classes, particularly in the subjects related to your college major, such as: math/science for STEM majors; language arts/government for political science majors; and finance/accounting for business majors, then you should plan your course schedule in a way as to best showcase your academic abilities.

Note: Skip any lessons that are not applicable to your school or which are impractical for consideration.


  • Understanding available opportunities for enrolling into Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and Dual/Joint Enrollment classes.
  • Understanding which type of classes have the potential to earn college credit at the types of colleges and universities to which you are considering applying for admission.

Estimated time to complete: Undetermined.

Guiding Questions

  • What are the available opportunities for taking AP, IB, or Dual/Joint Enrollment coursework in my school, school district, or online through my State Department of Education?
  • How many college credit hours will I potentially earn from AP, IB, or Dual/Joint Enrollment classes at the colleges to which I am considering applying for admission?
  • What classes may further assist in pursuing exceptionality?