You know the benefits of taking dual-credit courses in high school: you save money, you build confidence in college-level work, and you don’t have to take College Algebra ever again. But taking a course that’s not for you can be discouraging and can make the course difficult to finish. How do you decide what courses are right for you?
Here are five simple questions to ask yourself to help you decide if a course is right for you.
There are several reasons you might choose to take an online course. Are you taking the course for fun? To get a head start on your career goals? To earn college credit and save money on your degree? Answering this question is the first step to defining your ideal course.
If you are a senior with a little extra room in your schedule and just want something interesting, you might find something that sparks your interest that you’ve never studied before, such as a foreign language. If you are focused on your professional goals, look for a course that dovetails with your potential career. In it just to knock out some college credit? Look at potential majors for a school you might attend and find some general education courses that are required for those degrees.
Many people make the mistake of not taking their current lifestyle into account when choosing the type and number of courses they take. If you’re in high school and working a part-time job, you need to think about how many hours you can reasonably devote to your studies. This also means thinking about what the courses you are taking require (projects, papers, essays) and balancing how each uses your time.
Remember, college-level courses require more than 140 hours of work over the term for readings, assignments, and studying for and taking exams. That’s three hours a day, every day, for an eight-week course. Depending on your circumstances, you might be able to handle two courses, or maybe one is enough.
Course descriptions are there to help you make the right decision when choosing a course. They clearly outline each course’s requirements and how much time you can expect to spend on a course. They also give you an idea of what to expect with the content of the course. Use this to your advantage so you aren’t surprised after you’d paid for the course.
Many college courses require written essays, and college requirements for essays can be different from high school requirements. Think about taking a writing course early in your college career (like as a dual credit course in high school) so you have the skills you need to be successful. This will give you the chance to hone those skills and get feedback that you can use throughout your college career and beyond.
General education courses, the introductory courses for a discipline, are some of the easiest courses to get out of the way while you’re still in high school. Almost every degree requires an introductory communications course or Microeconomics. In some cases, these courses meet the requirement for both high school and college. Plus, with some of your general education courses knocked out in high school, you’ll get to move into the exciting courses that are expected within your major once you do move into the university environment.
In the end, the right courses for you will be the courses that best support your future plans, whether that’s to learn about a topic you want to major in or if you want to save money on your degree program. However, don’t be afraid to try something new! You never know, you might fall in love with a topic that sets your learning path on a whole new trajectory!
Ready to find your next online course? Check out our catalog of courses on demand.