Generally, how is taking DE/college classes in high school viewed?

I’m a rising junior planning out my college schedule for next year, as I would like to take around 14/15 dual enrollment classes within these next two years: around 3-4 classes/a semester. My state has a really good dual enrollment program with many CC’s and Universities participating. I personally love the option of being able to take college and high school classes, but on CC I’ve heard that DE classes may not be seen as comparable to AP classes offered a school. My school offers around 13 AP classes, would it be smart to have only taken AP calc and and APUSH over four years of school, (plus around 7 honors classes, near the max) and would taking many DE classes to be on track for an AA be seen as competitive for more selective schools?

Depends on which courses they are. Compared to material in AP courses in the same general subject, college courses may be:

  • Lower level (e.g. precalculus, college algebra).
  • Same level (e.g. single variable calculus). This is where a college’s preference for AP versus college courses may matter in admission. But note that college courses may cover material faster than high school courses (e.g. a semester college course may cover material covered in a year of high school AP course).
  • Higher level (e.g. multivariable calculus or linear algebra).

College courses may also be in subject areas outside of the typical high school and AP courses, such as philosophy, sociology, etc…

Dual enrollment programs may also vary. If you take college courses at the college with the general college student population, that is often looked more favorably than “college in the high school” type of dual enrollment. Taking college courses at the college also gives a taste of how college courses work that differs from high school courses before you jump into being a full time college student.

If you list which courses you are considering taking, and whether there is an AP versus college course option, you may get more specific recommendations.


You need to think this carefully, and perhaps not pick DEs over APs. APs get credit at many colleges. The DEs may not. Especially at colleges outside your state.


Also note that college courses taken while in high school will become part of your college record if you apply to medical or law school (or other professional schools) later as you are finishing (or after) college. Great if you earn all A or A+ grades, but could be a problem if your grades in college courses are lower.


Thanks for the post! In terms of my classes, I can specify:

Sem 1 schedule:
Introductory chem (AP chem is at my school, but you have to have 1 year of chem, which many people don’t have until junior year)
Introductory stats (AP stats at my school)
Introductory English writing and research (AP Lang and lit)

Sem 2:

Introductory biology (AP biology)
Anatomy and physiology 1 (college physio is at my school, but you have to take bio and chem, which I haven’t)
World history 1 (no AP world)
Gym or economics, probably gym because I have to fulfill grad requirements. (AP econ is offered)

Also, when I meant DE, I meant taking courses at an actual classes at a college that grant both high school credit and college credit. Also, I’m taking math at my school (alg. 2 honors + precalc possibly) and taking Spanish 4, and test prep

Since it looks like you will be a biology major or pre-med in college, consider these questions:

  1. Are introductory chemistry and biology the general chemistry and biology courses suitable for biology majors, or are they preparatory courses covering high school level material (since the general chemistry and biology courses may list the high school courses as prerequisites), or are they courses for some other majors but not biology majors?
  2. For statistics, you may need to take a course for science majors, rather than one intended for general education requirements for no-math majors.
  3. Anatomy and physiology at the high school or college frosh level may not be too useful compared to upper level courses in those subjects that list general biology as a prerequisite.

If you will be a pre-med, consider the content of FAQ Pre-med courses, AP/IB/etc. credit and college/DE courses, etc.

What kind of college are you targeting? If you are planning to stay in state, at a state school, the DE credits are probably fine.

If you are planning to go out of state and/or are targeting highly selective reach schools, AP classes are typically the better choice.


I’m targeting some highly selective schools, but I think that having DE credits would be a safer option. I also don’t really have much of an option lol between taking all AP classes at high school, or DE credits. Btw, the DE classes that I’m taking, I should have clarified this earlier, have HS courses as a prerequisite.

What do you mean by “safer option?”

Hi! The chem course I listed was college level, but it was introductory. They assumed that you have basic knowledge of chem. Should I take the higher level chem class, even though i don’t know chem?? I also now realized that that specific class won’t transfer to four year schools. I’ll probably register for the harder college chem class. The bio class though was higher than an intro class. I should have edited the original post.

In my state, DE classes give guaranteed credit at places like my state school, and other colleges in the state.

In general, highly selective colleges will prefer to see you exhaust your curriculum at your high school.

They like AP classes because they understand the currency. They know the curriculum and it’s more of an apples to apples comparison with other applicants.

Highly selective schools, for the most part, want to have students on campus for four years. There is little value to them in seeing a high school student graduating with an associates degree. Of course, for a student who is staying in state and is able to transfer many credits, there can be a lot of value in those classes, but that won’t happen at highly selective schools.


It would be a better idea to take high school chemistry, then take either college general chemistry or AP chemistry afterward.


That’s why it’s a safer choice IF you want to stay in state.

If you want an application that is attractive to highly selective schools out of state, the AP classes are the safer decision.


Do you have a choice of which college to take your DE classes at? My kids had a couple to choose from, one of them being a State University - which they picked. Those credits have a better chance of being accepted OOS than credits from a 2-year college. Staying In-State makes no odds tho.

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At my D’s T20 school AP credits can get you out of classes (Chem, Bio, Math, etc). College level classes do not automatically count. For a student to get credit for a class from another college they need to prove to the department head that it was an equivalent course which isn’t always the case. My D took Multivariable Calculus at a local university as a high school senior. She probably got one of the highest grades in the class. She took it again at college. It had been a year since she took it and as an engineering major she thought it would be good to freshen up on her math before jumping into more advanced classes. She felt like it was a completely different class and struggled a bit. The level of rigor was not comparable at all and I suspect they covered a lot more material than she covered when she took it Dual Enrollment.

I think the right answer might depend on where you are thinking of going to school. Look at a few schools and see how they handle transferring in credits. Large state schools might handle it differently than small privates.

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I think a HS student should take a college course only if a) s/he has exhausted what the HS can offer in that area; b) the college course offers comparable rigor to the similar course offered by the colleges s/he is targeting; and c) s/he will get either course or placement credit for the course at those target colleges if it’s required in their curricula. DE classes generally have little impact for admission purpose unless they were taken at the same college the student is applying to.

Actually, it may be helpful (though not necessary) for a college-bound high school student to take a college course (at a college, not “college in the high school” type of dual enrollment courses) just to get a taste of how college courses are run (requiring more self motivation and time management, compared to more supervised high school courses) before having to adjust to college courses while adjusting to all other aspects of college (e.g. college social scene, either residential living or greater commute in most cases) as a first semester frosh in college.

However, if a high school student does this, which college course to take in terms of material covered depends on the various aspects mentioned in previous posts.

It really depends on which college you will be going to.

We live in North Carolina. We have both a great community college system and a great state college system. If you wanted to go to UNC- Chapel Hill taking DE courses and even earning your Associates while in high school is possible and will give you a head start at UNC because there is an articulation agreement in place between the Community Colleges and UNC and a specific pathway (C-Step) to help moderate and low income students transfer the community college classes in. However if you were thinking of going to Duke, the Community College classes aren’t going to transfer the same way but they do offer credit for a 4 or 5 earned on an AP exam after taking an AP course.

So AP would be a much better choice for Duke, but NC Community College courses could be a better choice for UNC (depending on your situation) although AP is great at UNC too (but you won’t be able to transfer in as a junior with just AP courses and save two years of tuition).

So before you go too far down this road take some time to think about your goals and talk with your parents and explore any articulation agreements between your state’s community colleges and universities in your state. Some of the other private universities and colleges in NC, such as Guilford, do have articulation agreements with NC Community Colleges.

We also have Middle College here in NC where juniors and seniors in high school go to the Community College as high school. They do not go to their base high school at all anymore. One of my D22’s friends did this and she will have 2 years of credits where she is going to college (out of state private).