Opportunities for College Credit in High School


Photo by: Caleb Youngwerth

This infographic has the basics on each of the options for dual credit mentioned in this article.

Multiple opportunities to earn cost-effective college credits are available to NHS students throughout their academic career. 

“More recently, all students graduating from Neenah High School are required to take a college or technical college credit-yielding course,” a WASDA press release explained. The new policy first enacted for the class of 2023 aided in Dr. Mary Pfeiffer earning Superintendent of the Year. 

There are many advantages of taking college credit courses in high school. The three primary types of dual credit courses offered at Neenah include accredited programs such as Advanced Placement (AP), Cooperative Academic Partnership Program (CAPP), and Early College Credit Program (ECCP). The three course options work and grant credit differently from each other; consequently, students will find it advantageous to understand each programs’ distinctions and decide, which will serve them best to fulfill their graduation requirement.

Advanced Placement (AP), a group of course offerings hosted by the College Board, is an educational program designed to provide students with an introductory experience to their future college careers. Each course provides the opportunity to earn college credit through the means of a national final exam conducted in May. 

According to the district course guide, Neenah offers 24 accredited courses designed to prepare students for the spring exams in which the final scores determine the credits a student receives. Most public colleges in the United States accept AP scores of a 3 or higher: the equivalent of earning a C on a college exam. Some private or more prestigious universities may require a higher score to be applied as credit for their institutions. 

Each year Mrs. Anna Olson oversees “. . . 400 students taking over 600 AP exams.” An aspect unique to Neenah is the overall extent the district goes to make AP an accessible option for more students. AP exams are conveniently held at an in-house testing site and the courses are openly available to every student in the school as opposed to requiring a recommendation or application for enrollment. 

Also, students are granted the opportunity to opt out of taking the final AP exam; therefore, being exempted from paying the fee required to purchase an exam: $96 for each exam or $40 for students on reduced lunch. Many teachers offer study sessions during the months preceding the exams and the College Board provides online study materials free of charge.

The College Board acknowledges the difficulty of the AP program as students should be aware of the college workload; however, the board also proclaims that willing and academically prepared students are expected to succeed and benefit from the challenging courses. In addition to receiving college credit, Olson recommends that students consider whether an AP course is an option for them, as the benefits of the rigorous course load helps to better prepare for the transition from high school to college. 

Cooperative Academic Partnership Program (CAPP) is a college credit program where students experience the challenge of the college curriculum while in a high school environment. CAPP courses are offered at NHS through the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and offer college credit that is transferable to many colleges both in-state and nationwide. 

According to Mrs. Beth Altekruse, the CAPP coordinator at NHS, there are 18 CAPP courses for students to choose from, and there are currently 77 students enrolled in CAPP classes this semester. They are listed in the Course Guide under the “CAPP” section. 

High school students are eligible to take CAPP if they have a 2.75 GPA or higher. Compared with AP classes, which require a passing grade on a final standardized test, they will receive a grade based on their cumulative effort that will appear on their high school transcript as well as transfer to colleges upon the completion of a CAPP class. 

Many students choose to take classes for CAPP because they provide a convenient and affordable opportunity for concurrent high school and college credit. The cost of a CAPP class is $100 per credit hour. For students on free and reduced lunch, the cost is $50 per credit hour. 

Taking part in these classes will set students apart from other college applicants, lessen their college course load, and provide a chance to double major or graduate early from college.

Early College Credit Program (ECCP) is the most uncommon way to earn college credit in high school, though unlike other options, the classes are taken at UW-Oshkosh as the actual college classes, and they are taken for no cost. In addition to receiving high school credit, the classes also earn college credit that transfer as any college transfer credit.

The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh indicates that the only requirement to participate in ECCP is a 2.5 GPA, but the course must fall under extremely specific categories. The equivalent of the course must not be offered at the high school, all classes must be approved by the district first, and students must meet the collegiate prerequisites with either AP or CAPP credit. For example, the most common ECCP option is taking third-year math courses following completion of CAPP Calculus 3 and Linear Algebra at the high school.

The students also must be extremely confident in their skills in the class, because a student must receive a C or better to receive college credit on a traditional grading scale, and the earned letter grade appears on the students’ college transcripts. If the student fails to earn a C, not only does that student fail to earn college credit, but the student is also responsible to reimburse the college for all costs from the class.

Though the courses are free, the students are responsible for paying for one part: transportation. Also, since UW-Oshkosh does not have the same schedule as Neenah, the classes often conflict with other high school classes. This year, seniors Andrew Hou and Ethan Hou are two ECCP students, and they had the following opinions on the cost and commitment:

“There is a $300 parking ticket [fee] which is really annoying […] Also, as far as time, there is a little bit of a time commitment […] you might have to skip some classes.”

Despite this, they still think that, out of all the college credit options in high school, ECCP is the most helpful.

“I definitely think that taking class at UW-O[shkosh] prepares you a lot more for college than an AP class or a CAPP class would.”

Each of the previously mentioned course programs serve to fulfill the new dual credit requirement for Neenah students’ graduation. The district is enforcing this standard beginning with the class of 2023: resulting in the aforementioned information being important to consider when participating in the upcoming course selection process for the 2022-’23 school year.