Public schools in Florida permit students in good academic standing to take a dual enrollment class. Typically, this means a course at one of the state college or university campuses.
When students consider their high school courses and how their transcript will look to an admissions officer, they should keep the following in mind: almost all selective colleges prefer that students enroll in AP-level classes at their own schools rather than in dual enrollment classes elsewhere ― unless there is no equivalent higher level high school or AP course available. Occasionally, a dual enrollment class is actually given at a public high school. Some private schools allow their students to dual enroll, while others do not.
AP classes are regulated by the College Board, meet certain academic criteria, and lead to the AP exams. Taking the exam validates a student's grade, and beyond that, may actually generate college credit. Some colleges use AP results as a placement aide when freshmen sign up for more advanced courses. For example, such students can skip French 101 and 202, or Introductory College Algebra. AP standards are relatively rigorous and nationally recognized.
Dual enrollment classes are regulated by each individual college where the course is given. That means that a college to which a student applies has no standard against which to measure the academic rigor of a particular dual enrollment course. As a result, many colleges will not honor dual enrollment classes; or, they may honor credits, but disallow application of the credits to the college's core graduation requirements.
There are certainly dual-enrollment courses that can stand any academic test. Advanced courses which are at a higher level than AP in the natural sciences and in mathematics are among the favorites for high-powered students.
When in doubt, students should call the admissions offices of schools to which they seek admission in order to plan appropriately. And if a student doesn’t get consistent answers from several colleges, it’s best to take the AP course rather than dual enroll.
If it’s not possible for a student to take the AP course in his or her own school, other options to be considered are Florida Virtual School or any other online AdvancED-accredited provider, or through Score Academy, our own AdvancED-accredited private school in five locations.
We touched on this issue in one of our blog posts from last year: Top five considerations in choosing your classes