By TYLER REYNARD, For The Times Leader
WHEELING - As the price of a college education continues to rise, many high school students are taking advantage of the opportunity to earn college credit prior to graduation.
With such programs expanding locally, how many credit hours can a high school student earn?
Students at The Linsly School can earn college credit through Advanced Placement courses and exams. A motivated high school student can earn more than a semester’s worth of college credit during their high school career.
At Wheeling Park High School, the answer is anywhere from 20 to 30, depending on how many courses a student takes and how they fare on the AP exam.
Students at other schools can earn varying levels of college credit based on availability.
According to the College Board, which is headed by former West Virginia Gov. Gaston Caperton,
"From the moment you enter an AP classroom, you'll notice the difference - in the teacher's approach to the subject, in the attitude of your classmates, in the way you start to think.
"In AP classrooms, the focus is not on memorizing facts and figures. Instead you'll engage in intense discussions, solve problems collaboratively, and learn to write clearly and persuasively.
"With 34 AP courses to choose from, including Chinese Language and Culture, Environmental Science, and Psychology, you'll be able to explore your interests and discover new passions.
In AP classes, you'll study fascinating topics and ideas that just might become the foundation of your future college major or career."
Most four-year U.S. colleges and colleges in more than 60 other countries give students credit, advanced placement or both on the basis of AP Exam scores.
By entering college with AP credits, students will have the time to move into upper level courses, pursue a double-major or study abroad.
Locally, Wheeling Jesuit University and West Virginia Northern Community College have offered AP courses to Wheeling Central Catholic High School seniors for years.
Seniors at Wheeling Central with qualifying standardized test scores can fulfill their high school requirements while earning college credit by taking college level courses in history, science and mathematics, among others.
Wheeling Jesuit sends an instructor to the high school, while students taking classes through West Virginia Northern travel to the college's downtown campus and learn among college students.
Students are able to graduate with as many as 15 credit hours. That number will grow next year when the Wheeling Jesuit program will be opened to Central juniors, as well.
While students at The Linsly School do not take classes externally for college credits, the school offers a rigorous Advanced Placement program as part of its course offerings. Among those courses are science, mathematics, literature and history.
The number of college credits those students earn is based on the score they receive on the AP exam and on the score the college of matriculation requires.
There are 379 Linsly students enrolled in those classes this year, including students who are enrolled in multiple classes, and approximately 130 students will take a combined 250 AP exams each year.
Highly motivated juniors and seniors in Ohio, Brooke, Marshall, Hancock and Wetzel counties are being offered dual enrollment in high school and West Liberty University's Honors College through the Advanced Academy of West Virginia's Advanced Education Pilot Program.
Students will satisfy high school credits required for their diploma by taking college level courses that will also count toward general education and, in some cases, discipline specific college courses. In essence, those students will earn both high school and college credit at the same time.
Officials expect that high school seniors will earn a minimum of 30 college credits through West Liberty's program. However, it is entirely possible that a motivated, academically advanced student could earn more.
Classes will take place at West Liberty's Highland Center and officials are hopeful the program will begin in August.
Wheeling Park High School offers an array of opportunities for motivated students. College at Park provides Park students with the opportunity to earn college credits while completing high school graduation requirements. Dual high school and college credits may be earned while attending classes on campus with instruction provided by Wheeling Park teachers. Students earn transferable college credit from accredited institutions of higher education.
Through college level AP courses, students enter a universe of knowledge that might otherwise remain unexplored in high school;through AP Exams, students have the opportunity to earn credit or advanced standing at most of the nation's colleges and universities.