Earning college credit while still in high school can be a great way to save money on college tuition by potentially putting a student in a position to graduate early from college. Aside from cost savings, earning credit during high school can help a college student satisfy general education requirements that they would otherwise need to take.
It is important to note that while college credits earned in high school will transfer in most cases, it is not guaranteed in all cases. Each college has their own policies on transfer credits.
Londonderry High School (LHS) offers a variety of ways that students can simultaneously get college credit while meeting their high school graduation requirements. Two of the programs, Project Running Start and SNHU in the High School, are collaborations between LHS and New Hampshire colleges. While the programs are through New Hampshire colleges, the credits earned can be used throughout the U.S. Over 190 colleges have accepted credits earned through this program.
Project Running Start is the dual enrollment/ dual credit enrollment program offered by the Community College System of NH (CCSNH). Running Start is a way that students can take college courses at their high school at a reduced tuition cost.
In this program, students take courses at LHS that are part of the Running Start program and taught by teacher that meets or exceeds the hiring qualifications for CCSNH faculty. The course work and materials must meet the college level content standards.
There is an extra fee of $150 per course. However, this is a small fraction of the cost of a typical college course. At the successful completion of the class the student will have both a high school credit and a college transcript with credit.
LHS currently offers twenty-two Running Start courses in the areas of sciences, math, technology, business and teaching including a mix of standard college prep courses and honors/AP courses.
Within Running Start, funding is available for students to take up to two STEM courses (science, technology, engineering and math) per year. Students in designated STEM and STEM related courses can be reimbursed for these Running Start courses after successful completion of the course by obtaining a C or better for a final grade. Reimbursements will occur after final grades are verified.
SNHU in the High School is very similar to Running Start except students take dual enrollment courses that show up on a Southern New Hampshire University transcript. While the credits appear on a SNHU transcript, credits are generally transferable to other colleges and universities (policies vary by school). Courses are taken at LHS.
SNHU in the High School courses require a $100 fee for a three-credit course and an additional $25 if a lab is part of the course. Fourteen eligible courses at LHS aligned with this program cover areas including art, language, math, science, English, music, geography and public speaking.
Advanced Placement (AP) courses are another possible way to earn college credit. Students taking these accelerated courses at LHS take an AP exam near the end of the course. Students scoring a 3 or higher on any AP examination may receive college credits or advance into the second semester of required freshman course(s).
AP tests are scored on a 1-5 scale. While some colleges give credit for a score of 3, many require a 4 or 5 to get credit. Generally, the more competitive colleges require higher scores. For example, UNH gives credit for a 3 in some cases, but in other cases they require a 4 or 5. Some colleges may limit the amount of AP credit they will give, so that even if the student gets high scores on several AP exams, the college may limit credit to fewer courses.
At LHS, there are fourteen AP courses offered in math, English, language, history, political science, psychology, computer science and art.
There is also the Early College Program where students attend Nashua Community College or Manchester Community College and pay $300 for each course, earning college credit. This can be a pathway to UNH or other public NH colleges through the New Hampshire Transfer Connections Program.
In this program students spend two years at a community college and then transfer to UNH. LHS students can begin this program after their sophomore year. Students can physically take courses at the college or take online courses. LHS currently has 15 students in this program.