Starting College While in High School

One of the most rewarding ways to begin your college career is by starting it in high school. College is a daunting experience, no doubt about it. High school is likewise a stretch of your life that may bring bad memories and experiences. Both school experiences may offer horror stories you will live with for your entire life. However, speaking from experience, you can reduce the number of scary experiences that could occur in your first year by beginning your college career while still attending high school.

By Al Dickenson — October 19, 2022


Starting College While in High School

One of the most rewarding ways to begin your college career is by starting it in high school. College is a daunting experience, no doubt about it. High school is likewise a stretch of your life that may bring bad memories and experiences. Both school experiences may offer horror stories you will live with for your entire life. However, speaking from experience, you can reduce the number of scary experiences that could occur in your first year by beginning your college career while still attending high school.

Starting on the personal side, beginning college early can prove to you and others that you can handle the responsibilities of being a college student. It is not that high school is not difficult, but college courses provide a new level of dedication and skill required to succeed. Personally, in my senior year of high school, I took two college courses at a small, local college to make sure college was right for me. This experience brings me to my next point.

A course or two before starting full — time college allows students to "test the waters" of college before diving into the deep end with a full course load, expensive tuition, and long — distance moves. Even if you like the academic aspects of college, you may discover that a smaller school or one closer or farther away from home best benefits you. By beginning college even a semester early, you can have more flexibility and experience to draw from in determining your life's course.

Turning to the academic side of things, taking a class or two before beginning college full — time can also improve your grades. You will have an additional semester to bolster your overall grade point average, for one thing, but you also have the opportunity to get some of the general education courses out of the way before you begin your college experience.

Taking basic, 100 — level communication or college writing classes can free up your next semester's schedule and allow you more flexibility in upper — division courses, more time for extracurriculars, or whatever else you need to accomplish. Another benefit of attending college early would be that, should you choose to go to a local school for your pre-college experience and then stay there the following semesters, you can connect with professors, staff, and other students. While some students may be upperclassmen, others may be in the same situation as you; trying to get a head start on their future. Either way, it will be good to make those connections, as we can all learn from our peers.

Additionally, it should be noted that many colleges offer some variant of a "Young Scholars Program," meaning that the college credits earned while still in high school can be added to transcripts from both the students' high school and university. This is similar to some Advanced Placement programs high schools offer, where sometimes students are allowed to test out of those same basic general education courses listed above. Holding college credits on a high school transcript will also show initiative for future career or education choices you make, whether you decide to continue on with a four year education or if you decide to attend trade/ vocational school, or if you look for a job directly out of high school. Furthermore, should you look for internships or other opportunities during or after college, showing that you have the drive to achieve something many other high school students do not can make you stand out from the crowd.

Lastly, starting college a semester or two early, even if by only taking a course or two per semester, and should you decide to continue with college, you will have a better handle on all that college courses require. Be it scheduling, research habits, or learning to ask more sophisticated questions, you will have a leg up on your peers due to your previous experience taking college-level courses.

It may be worth exploring the offer if there is an opportunity to gain college experience and credit while still in high school. Many times colleges will offer unique, reduced tuition and payment options for these types of situations. For example, some colleges will provide tuition options on a credit-by-credit basis, which can be helpful to many students and their families. Also, credit-by-credit tuition can be a better value for college credit than full-time enrollment, though be mindful that taking courses in a piecemeal style will likely not qualify you for financial aid or scholarship opportunities. Still, should an option to attend college while still in high school present itself, it should be considered.

Al Dickenson

Al Dickenson

Al Dickenson graduated from Wisconsin Lutheran College with bachelor’s degrees in history, communication, and English. He currently serves as an editor for an international equine practitioners’ magazine in and around Milwaukee, Wisconsin, his hometown, where he lives with his wife.
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One of the most rewarding ways to begin your college career is by starting it in high school. College is a daunting experience, no doubt about it. High school is likewise a stretch of your life that may bring bad memories and experiences. Both school experiences may offer horror stories you will live with for your entire life. However, speaking from experience, you can reduce the number of scary experiences that could occur in your first year by beginning your college career while still attending high school.
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