Can I Get College Credits Early? (Hint: Yes You Can!)

Young smiling student with backpack

There's no doubt that college is one of the biggest and most expensive investments you'll make. Student loan debt is becoming a major problem in the country, with debt now reaching over $1.3 trillion in America.

For this reason alone, many high school students want to shave off as much time from college as possible. Taking college credits before ever enrolling could reduce the years they'll spend paying high tuition fees, boarding school fees, and everyday expenses in college life.

But can you get college credits early? Will these credits count?

The answer is yes and there are a few different ways to achieve this. One of the most popular options is the Advanced Placement (AP) program.

Taking Advanced Placement Exams

High school students can enroll in AP classes to get a head-start on college learning. Keep in mind that while AP classes might be free, depending on your high school, the exams are not. The AP exams can cost $89 but this also changes from state to state.

Colleges that accept AP scores won't grant you credits right away. Each college will determine how many credits you earn based on your examination score. This means some colleges might give you more credits than others.

The one issue with AP examinations is that not every college accepts them as college credits. Some colleges won't count them as credits, but they will allow you to bypass some minor subjects if you scored high enough on these examinations.

AP classes work in an a la carte system, meaning students can pick which classes to sit and take an exam for. Students can focus on mathematics, writing, sciences, and others. Students don't have to take some of the classes to take the exams either.

International Baccalaureate Program

One difference between the International Baccalaureate (IB) and AP systems is that the former is a full-blown course. Students can't pick and choose their classes the way they can in AP.

The main benefit of taking IB is that it grants students a certificate similar to diplomas. Presenting this to some colleges allow them to fast-track forward into their sophomore year.

It is important to keep in mind that not all schools offer an IB program. Only a little more than 3,600 schools offer IB courses and exams for their students. It is also important to note that IB exams can cost a little more than AP examinations.


Established as early as 1974, the American Council on Education (ACE) offers the CREDIT program to let students gain college credit without going attending college classes yet. It is not only for high school students trying to earn college credits early but also a good option for older people who want to get back into school.

By giving students a means of earning credits outside traditional degree programs, it grants a wider array of options like learning courses through an online class. There are more many programs to choose from, ensuring students can pick a course connected to the college degree they want to take.

This is one of the best options for people who want to finish college without debt. It's affordable and it lets you study or take exams at your own pace.

Like AP and IB programs, not every college partners with ACE. It is crucial to first see which colleges partner with ACE and accepts ACE credits for college promotion. This can help you get college credits early.

Dual Enrollment Programs

And then there are dual enrollment programs. This works in two different ways. While different in terms of execution, they both follow the same concept: allowing young students to take college courses before graduating high school.

College Classes in High School

Some high schools and online schools for home-schooled students offer college courses. A high school diploma is not a requirement to take these courses. This allows a high school student to continue attending high school and take a few college classes in the same facilities.

This is in many ways similar to the AP program but instead of earning AP credits, you'll earn direct college credits for a local college. This offer is not the same everywhere, so you will have to communicate with the local colleges and see which courses they accept and high schools they partner with.

Enroll in High School and College at the Same Time

Keep in mind that this is a rare case, but it is possible. Some local colleges open weekend or evening classes for high school students to give them an early start. This is one of the most recommended options because it doesn't deprive students of a regular college life experience despite giving them early college credits.

Why Get Credits Early?

Why spend money on these courses and examinations? Taking them early, especially during senior high school, allows students to save money. They won't have to pay the normal tuition fees for college.

There is an increase in the number of students enrolling in college after finishing high school. This gives colleges and universities the incentive to increase their tuition fees and prioritize the limited slots for college students.

By getting credits early, students can avoid these high costs.

Saving cash isn't the only benefit, however, though it is a big one. By earning credits early, students can finish college faster. This allows them to graduate sooner and find a professional job in the field at a younger age.

Get College Credits Early!

Yes, you can get college credits as early as high school. There are many options available and you can pick one that partners with the college of your choice.

If you're still not sure or if you want to apply now to an ACE CREDIT program, feel free to contact us! We offer courses in mathematics, science, social sciences, technology, humanities, business, and English.

Your journey into an early and affordable college degree starts here.

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