Students split on whether AP or Dual Enrollment courses are better


The Magnet Tribune: Mauro Flores

Johanna Chaney gives instruction to her AP U.S. History class during 5th block.

Emily Garza, Staff Writer

Advanced Placement and Dual Enrollment classes are different, course-wise and in difficulty, students say.

Students, in general, argue which is the best to take.

There are a lot of pros to both options. In order to take dual classes one has to pass the Texas Success Initiative Assessment (TSI) test. If one does not pass the TSI’s second part (which is a second chance) then one has to take AP classes.

The test is made up of mathematics, writing, and reading. It is designed see if a student is capable of taking college-level courses.

Gadiel Quintero, a junior at VMT whose fine arts is high brass and is in SoundTown, and Eddie Barboza, a senior at VMT who is in woodwinds, are both taking dual classes. They explain their experiences, so far.

“Dual isn’t difficult for me. The only part that I struggled with was with turning in the assignments on time, but so far the classes have been pretty good,” Quintero said.

“My experiences have been very stressful, educational, and very worth it,” Barboza added.

Quintero and Barboza say they think all students are capable of taking college-level courses.

“Yes, they all are. The class itself isn’t difficult. The hard part is to be responsible and turn in your assignments on time,” Quintero said.

He also discussed the TSI.

“I don’t know why they make the TSI so difficult if the only difficult thing in the class are the essays,” Quintero said.

“Yes (everyone is capable), simply due to the fact that it really isn’t a hard course to go through. The assignments are explained in detail and there is always help provided by (high school) instructors or the professors themselves,” Barboza said.

Quintero and Barboza feel Dual Enrollment courses benefit students more than AP classes.

“Dual is the most beneficial because you get the college experience for free,” Quintero said.

“I firmly state that dual has many more benefits than AP. The different interactions between professor, instructor, and the curriculum really just help a high school student slowly immerse into college life and remove that amount of money from college spending,” Barboza added.

Quintero and Barboza both say they would not change to AP classes even if they had the chance to make the change.

“I wouldn’t change to AP because I would have to depend on passing the AP test to get the credit,” Quintero said.

“No, I truly doubt that AP classes would have given me the skills to prepare for college that dual has given me,” Barboza added.

For many, Dual Enrollment is helpful in different ways. For Barboza, he will be benefiting from dual in two specific ways.

“Dual will benefit me in the future for sure. The amount of money removed from college (spending) and preparing for what a college level class really is (are benefits),” Barboza said.

The reason for Barboza taking these dual classes was to get a look at how college will be in the future.

“I wanted to be taught and instructed by an actual professor to see what the environment is like,” Barboza said.

Quintero explained how dual will help him in the future, as a college student.

“Dual will help me a lot because I will already have an idea about how college is like,” Quintero said.

Quintero takes AP classes at his home school and dual at VMT. Given the chance to also take AP classes at VMT, he decided not to.

“I chose dual instead of AP (at VMT) simply because AP credits don’t always transfer to all universities,” he said.

In addition to what dual students had to say, two other students discussed their journey as AP students.

Catherine Benavides, a junior at VMT whose fine art is woodwinds, and Juan Jose Vasquez, a senior at VMT whose fine art is theater, both take AP classes.

Both described how it is to take those courses and whether they think AP are difficult classes.

“It all depends how you make it to be. If you decide not to pay attention and not do your work then yes it’s hard because you will be behind but if you are responsible then you’re good,” Benavides said.

“For me being already in AP classes for two years, it has been fine. I take them as normal classes, just focus,” Vasquez said.

Benavides and Vasquez both explained their opinions on Dual Enrollment and AP classes.

“I’m pretty sure they are different because they have actual college classes with a professor and we have high level coursework. Most probably the biggest difference is they (dual) have to be on point with deadlines because they might only be reminded to turn in something one or twice,” Benavides said.

“Yes,” Vasquez said, “because I feel like (students) have more pressure since those grades transfer to the colleges and in AP, even though it’s a high level course, I think it’s more relaxed,” Vasquez said.

My experiences have been very stressful, educational, and very worth it.”

— Eddie Barboza

With many discussing whether Dual Enrollment or AP has the most benefits, these AP students offer their opinions.

“Both have a good amount of benefits. AP can give you more hours than dual if you pass the AP test but then again with dual you get the credit as long as you pass the class. Another thing, though, is that it isn’t impossible to pass the AP test as long as you prepare for it as much as you can. You’re set,” Benavides said.

“Dual does give you the credit as long as you pass but AP gives you more weight added to your GPA, which colleges look into,” Vasquez added.

Even if they don’t pass the AP exam these students still see themselves benefiting from these classes, anyways.

“I’m sure it will because these classes are still at a higher level than regular classes so even if I don’t get the credit, I’ll have some information is my head and know to not worry because I’m used to the high-level course work,” Benavides said.

“Yes it will (benefit), since it is not a regular class and the instructors do expect you to be focused every day and at least make sure you are prepared for college,” Vasquez said.

When asked if they would switch to dual if they were given the chance, both said “no” for different reasons.

It all depends how you make it to be. If you decide not to pay attention and not do your work then yes it’s hard because you will be behind but if you are responsible then you’re good.”

— Catherine Benavides

“No, I wouldn’t. I don’t find a problem with my AP classes and I’m doing well so I wouldn’t want to switch,” Benavides said.

“I wouldn’t switch because I would feel the pressure since they are college classes and it’s another thing to worry about,” Vasquez said.

Both described their experiences as AP students.

“So far I have really enjoyed being an AP student. I have learned a variety of things such as doing a lot at once, turning in things on time, and new techniques for studying,” Benavides said.

“My experiences have been good, not so much stressing, and I overall enjoy the classes,” Vasquez added.

Freshman and sophomores also offered their opinions about these courses.

At first these students didn’t know much about AP and Dual Enrollment courses; some didn’t even know anything about them. Many said they knew dual are college courses; they didn’t know anything about the advantages and disadvantage.

Some of the students knew what these classes were made up of, and they knew what they wanted to take — either dual or AP.

“Yes, I would take dual. It’s less (college tuition) payments for myself and my parents,” said Yenitzza Chapa, a sophomore at VMT whose fine art is creative writing.

“I would take AP because having college classes would interfere with my regular classes since I wouldn’t be able to handle it,” said Jocelyn Trejo, a freshman at VMT who takes creative writing as well. “Dual would be hard for me since they are college classes.”

After giving some information about both AP and Dual Enrollment, students had full knowledge of what they consisted of. Students decided which one would be easier to take after the explanation. Some students as well changed their minds on what they would prefer to take.

“Dual would be easier for me because you just have to pass the class to receive college credit, and in AP you don’t know if you will pass the AP test for the college credit. Dual will also be more beneficial because it is giving me an opportunity to see what college is like, get college credits, (and) less time and money spent at college,” Chapa said.

Yes, I did change my mind to take dual now because of all the pros it has.”

— Jocelyn Trejo

Trejo’s thinking changed.

“After hearing that, dual would be easier in the long run because I just have to pass the course and my grades and credit will transfer for college,” Trejo said. “Yes, I did change my mind to take dual now because of all the pros it has.”

Chapa had decided on taking dual classes from the beginning and her mindset did not change.

“In my opinion,” Chapa said, “dual still benefits me the most.”