Getting a Jump on College

Hey Paul: I am starting my junior year of high school. I plan to take a couple of AP classes to earn college credit. What other ways can I get college credit from high school classes?

You’ll be busy with a couple of AP courses and the rest of your course load. Although AP courses and the associated tests receive the most attention there are a number of paths to college credit while in high school.

CLEP exams are similar to AP tests with many of the same subjects with a total of 33 tests. You don’t have to take a specific class to take a CLEP exam – potentially you could take the CLEP exam that matches up with one of your AP classes. If you are ambitious you could even combine a “regular” class with self-study and take the CLEP exam. The tests cost $80 that is slightly less expensive than an AP exam. I’ve heard they are a bit easier but don’t plan on an easy exam! See for more details.

One educational opportunity I highly recommend for any local high school student is to strongly consider enrolling in a free or highly discounted college course at Asbury University. Yes, that’s the college that I teach at but I don’t get any bonus money for touting “Asbury Academy”. The AU website describes the program as follows:

Asbury Academy is a dual enrollment program for high school juniors and seniors. This program provides opportunities for high school juniors and seniors to take general education requirements at the University level (100- and 200-level courses), enabling them to complete high school and earn University credit through dual enrollment.

What courses are offered? There are over 80 courses including Art, Biology, Communication, Greek, Psychology, and even horseback riding and weight lifting. I teach ECN 100 Survey of Economics and have had several Academy students in this class all of whom have done well.

What does it cost? Here is the good news. Seniors can take up to 4 hours of credit (most classes are 3 hours) tuition FREE! There may still be some course fees and certainly textbooks to buy but this is about $6000 of college tuition waived for one course in the fall and spring semesters. Juniors can take in-person classes but the cost is about $1500 per class.

Juniors and Seniors can take an online course for about $400 – about 80% off the sticker price. The online classes are fast paced courses that run over eight weeks. Online classes are not for everyone as you’ll need to hold yourself accountable to study independently although the courses are designed for interaction with the professor and your classmates.

What do I need to get accepted into the Academy? There are five components – a short online application, official high school transcript, official ACT or SAT scores, a recommendation from a high school counselor or other adult familiar with your academic ability, and written permission from one of your parents to participate in the Academy. The ACT scores are needed only if you wish to place into certain math or English courses. I don’t think too many students are denied admission to the Academy; the only quantitative requirement is that Juniors must have a 3.25 GPA and a Senior a 3.0 high school GPA. Most Academy students come for East or West Jessamine High but I have had home-schoolers and students from surrounding counties in my classes.

Do I need to be a Christian? As part of the application I believe you have to agree to abide by the Community Covenant that prohibits various vices and promotes virtues associated with Christianity. Surprisingly to some people, a student does not have to profess to be a Christian to attend Asbury University. Of course the vast majority of students who attend full-time are Christians but many of them came to Asbury with an inherited religion or perhaps no strong spiritual leanings.

What are the benefits of dual-enrollment? Many Academy students take their English or math requirement that doubles for high school and college credit. Unlike an AP course you won’t have to take a high-pressure comprehensive exam at the end of the school year. Also you will earn a letter grade for the course rather than just credit for passing. If you do not attend Asbury as an undergraduate you can still transfer the credit to virtually any other college.

One thing you’ll notice about college course is that there is less time spent in-class and more time expected to be spent out-of-class studying. Typically college courses meet three times a week for 50 minutes or twice for 75 minutes. The rule of thumb is that you should study about twice as much as class time. That brings the total time invested in a course up to about 10 hours a week.

What do you recommend? I think the benefits of exploring subjects that are not offered in high school and getting a feel for college are too good to pass up for anyone considering pursuing a college education. For starters I would definitely consider taking the two FREE courses as a senior. The half-off price for Juniors is still a bit pricey for most but I’d consider an online class for around $400 each semester. For around $800 in combined tuition you can have almost a semester of college credit. If you take 12 hours of dual enrollment credit and earn a 3.0 GPA you will earn a $1500 Academy Scholars scholarship equaling $6000 over four years of college.

Academy Contact Information

For questions regarding the Academy application process, please contact Kim Okesson at or (859) 858-3511, ext. 2506.