In high school, most of us didn’t even want to take regular high school classes, let alone taking college credit classes in high school. It’s nothing an average high school student can’t complete with just a little more hard work and little less procrastination. And they pay off a whole lot more.
My parents never hammered getting A’s into my head, but for me, passing wasn’t going to cut it. I made my future my top priority. I wanted to do what it took to achieve the goals I had set for myself. Doing that required me to put in a little more effort. I would have to take college level courses in high school even though they’d require some extra work and weren’t all that interesting. But I knew that if I wanted to ace the plan I had for my future, I’d have to put in that work.
I found dual credit classes gave me a few advantages over my stressed-out undergrad peers.
You only have to do what is familiar and beneficial.
I took dual credit classes through Iowa Lakes Community College. This basically meant I got both high school and college credits for the courses I took. The classes were still taught at my high school with my regular high school teachers, but the credits counted toward college. It was basically the same learning without the same cost and without the intimidating college professors. And the best part about taking college credits in high school? You only take the ones you want and know will benefit you the most.
You can learn at a slower pace.
I knew from Day 1 I wanted to be a journalism major. I liked words. Throwing numbers into the mix didn’t exactly fit my idea of fun. I knew math and science classes in college would just make me miserable. So instead, I sacrificed an easier junior year of high school to avoid taking chemistry and statistics classes with university professors. Sure, I could’ve learned the same material I would have by waiting to take it at the university. But in high school, I could take my time. In college, all the formulas, equations and terms get drilled into your brain in a short 16-week semester. Dual credit classes, on the other hand, stretch the syllabus over a year. When I sat in that class and took my notes, I felt way less overwhelmed than I could have been. And then I killed all the tests.
You can knock out the knockout classes.
When senior year rolled around, I knocked out Composition 1 and 2 so I could get a head start on my writing classes. I even took Advanced Speech—I really wanted to avoid public speaking in college at all costs. I snuck out of the dreaded freshman rhetoric class at the University of Iowa. My friends had to suffer through since I was a step ahead.
You can get some semester hours out of the way.
By the time I graduated high school, I had 25 college credits under my belt. All these credits transferred straight to the University of Iowa. Since I had so many I actually started my college career as a sophomore. At first, I just thought that sounded cool, but now I realize how much those 25 credits really did save my life—and especially my sanity.
You can free up time in your schedule to double major.
Because I’m still an overachiever, I’m double majoring in journalism and psychology. Double majoring is doable but pretty hard to squeeze into four years. Luckily, I already have a year’s worth of credits out of the way. I can take my time and still get the education I am paying for without nearly as much stress. The biggest plus comes from being able to jump right into my major courses. I didn’t want to spend my first semesters getting gen-ed courses out of the way. I started my major courses right away to test the waters. It’s not uncommon for students to switch majors once or twice, but I’m definitely indecisive. I could easily end up with a completely different major by the end of my college career. To my surprise, taking those major courses made me even more confident in my decision to double major in journalism and psychology.
You can enjoy a social life.
And if I hadn’t have taken those extra credits, my college career would have been way more stressful. I can dedicate more time to friends and to myself. Instead of spending hours studying for a gen chem final I probably wouldn’t even get a good grade on, I get to sit in the dining hall with my close friends until they kick us out at closing. I even have the time to make the painful trek to the gym to run a couple miles and forget that how much I ate during that dining hall visit.
My college experience has been filled with friendships I never would’ve made if I had to spend all hours of the day at the library. I can dedicate my focus to what I’m truly interested in…and a few classes for fun. Don’t be afraid to take the plunge into some more challenging classes in high school. You may not need them, but you’ll definitely love having them in the long run.