Online universities tend to have lots of things in common: They almost always eliminate classroom attendance, many of them offer accelerated programs, and most are designed specifically to work around full-time work schedules and family obligations. While these programs are all structured the same, their admissions requirements and transfer agreements vary significantly. For this reason, students may want to look in advance to determine whether or not schools they’re considering will accept things like AP test scores, prior college credits, and more.
Advanced Placement Only Counts if the School Accepts the Credit
While most high schools today encourage students to take AP exams as a way to jump ahead of the pack and eliminate some pretty lofty tuition expenses, these exams are never a sure way to gain collegiate credit for courses taken in high school. That remains true of online colleges, where different requirements might see students having to forego their high AP scores just as a matter of fact. There are several ways to determine whether or not this will be the case before even scheduling a single AP course:
Check with College Board’s AP Center
College Board is the body behind the AP exam system, and the organization maintains a full listing of both online and offline schools that either accept or reject AP examination scores for college credit. The College Board’s AP Central website is an excellent resource for those considering an AP course. It’s also an excellent way to determine the university’s score requirement for a transfer of credit. While most require only a score of 3 or better, some do require a 4 or 5 for students to achieve credit in a given topic.
Check with the University’s Website
Online colleges and universities have some of the best websites in the business, largely because those websites power every aspect of a student’s learning experience. Use the admissions page of that website to discern whether or not the institution accepts AP credit, and whether a score of 3, 4, or 5 is required for the successful transfer of AP courses into college credits.
Consider Alternatives if the College Does Not Accept AP Exams
If the university in question doesn’t accept AP scores, or requires a higher score than was achieved on a final AP course examination, there are other options worth considering. One is the College Level Examination Program, which is often accepted even by those schools that don’t take AP courses for college credit. These short exams test a student’s knowledge of a very specific subject, from psychology to British literature, and can fill in the AP gaps.
Other courses, like math, science, and basic composition, are usually subject to a placement test. If score high enough on these initial tests, they’ll be able to skip many introductory-level courses and save a significant sum of money in the process. And in some schools, thanks to dual enrollment programs, it is sometimes possible to take online college classes while still in high school.
The Key is Diligent Research in Advance of Course Scheduling
Before setting up a senior year course schedule full of AP exams, students need to determine which schools they intend to apply to and how those schools evaluate AP exam scores and high school credits. With planning in advance, students can either pick the best schools that accept AP scores or pursue alternative programs that transfer adequately into the college’s core requirements.