In most Top of Utah Schools, the opportunities to earn college credit while in high school are many.
Advanced Placement courses offer students college credit once they pass a cumulative test.
Concurrent enrollment allows high schoolers to take a college class, usually on their high school campus during regular school hours, for both high school and college credit.
Another option is early college, where high school students attend classes on a regular university campus. Taking college classes via correspondence or the Internet is an option as well.
In Weber School District, each high school offers from 10 to 16 different AP classes. Before students sign up for AP classes, counselors in the Weber district often advise them of the rigors associated with such a class. In the end, about 64 percent of Weber district's students who take an AP exam actually pass and earn college credit.
At Bear River High School, 76 students enrolled in AP courses, including English, biology, chemistry, calculus and studio.
At Morgan High School, 178 students enrolled in AP courses, including calculus, English language, English literature, European history and biology.
Last year, 4,189 Weber district students earned a total of 11,796 concurrent enrollment credits.
In Box Elder School District, concurrent enrollment options include medical terminology, exercise science, biology, English, general psychology, math, horticulture, personal financial planning, computer information literacy and microcomputer applications.
At Bear River, student enrollment in these courses equaled 540, with many students taking more than one concurrent class.
At Morgan High, an average of 65 students take concurrent enrollment classes.
To enroll in concurrent enrollment, students have to be at least a junior with a 3.0 GPA. Good grades and study skills don't hurt, either, said Margo Miles, a counselor with Box Elder High School.
Partnerships with institutions of higher education make college credit for high school students possible. For example, Box Elder School District has partnerships with Utah State University, Weber State University and Bridgerland Applied Technology College.
In some cases, high school students are able to earn a college associate degree by the time they graduate from high school.
Morgan High counselor Jim Wiscombe said the number of students actually doing that began decreasing when the New Century Scholarship was no long available.
Bob Wood, director of student services at Weber School District, cautions that not every opportunity for college credit is right for every student.
"Some people think it is the best thing in the world to get an associate degree in high school," Wood said. "It's not necessarily good for all kids."
The key is to match goals and career objectives with the classes students take in high school.
"If you don't know what you want to do in college and have no clue, an associate in something you don't want to do is not as valuable," Wood said.
Many schools notice that when concurrent enrollment increases, AP enrollment decreases and vice versa. In the Weber district, concurrent enrollment is on the rise. In Morgan, AP classes are on the upswing lately.
However, counselors don't want students to be afraid of taking courses that offer college credit. In fact, many agree that students are underutilizing such opportunities.
"Some parents underestimate what their student can do. Some students and parents want to have an easy senior year," Miles said.
Others want to maintain a high GPA by not taking challenging courses.
Although counselors would rather see more students taking courses that allow college credit, sometimes the demand is too high for some courses, such as the popular English 1010, Miles said.
Not only does earning college credit while in high school give students a jump start on college generals, it also increases their likelihood of graduating from both high school and college, Miles said. And it decreases the time and expenses associated with a college degree.
Ed Hibbard, counselor at Bear River High School, agreed.
"The experience of taking college classes in high school exposes students to the rigor of college classes," he said. "Students should be committed, because the grade earned in concurrent classes becomes a part of their college transcript."
For complete listings of each school's graduates see the Standard-Examiner's e-edition.