Are you a middle schooler looking to make the transition to high school and curious about how things will go? Are you eager to get a jumpstart on planning out your high school schedule? If this sounds like you, we can help you do just that.
Credit hours are essential to keep track of in high school. There are several ways to be earned, and you will need a set amount to graduate from high school. We will provide you with information all about them in this article. We will even teach you how to calculate your high school credits.
This information is not complex, and it will help you get a jumpstart on your high school career. Imagine knowing exactly how to plan your high school years without confusion and stress. We want you to do just that; all you have to do is keep reading.
How Do High School Credits Work?
Before we can get into the nitty-gritty of credit hours, you must first understand what they are. This foundational knowledge is essential in helping you know what to expect and how your credits work. If you are unfamiliar with the term, credits are the unit used to measure school completion. You will see them in middle school, high school, and even college and beyond.
Credits are given based on your courses. All credits will not be the same for all classes. These credits are also essential for the acquisition of a high school diploma.
What Does High School Credit Mean?
High school credit is much like its parent, the credit but specific to a student’s high school tenure. Students must gain high school credit to be eligible for graduation. Though most notably known for being earned through traditional high school credit, high school credit can be achieved in many ways. This is through regular courses, advanced placements, dual credit bridge programs, and more. The opportunities you have to earn high school credit will vary based on the high school you achieve. Based on their environment, some students will have a more robust offering of courses that they can acquire high school credit.
What are Credit Hours in High School?
Credit hours are used to measure classwork. Though some schools may have different measurements hours, typically, one hundred and twenty hours of course work is equivalent to one credit hour. This number can also be broken down based on the number of minutes a student may spend in class. For example, one hundred and twenty-course hours is equivalent to one hundred and sixty, 45-minute class periods. This number is based on your class period time and any additional activities that would happen outside of the traditional classroom.
What is a Dual Credit Course in High School?
If you are someone who is not looking to stick to the recommended course schedule, a dual credit course may be in your future. These courses are often offered to overachieving students looking to obtain high school credits and college credits. Classes that are offered for dual credit often require extra work or work within the college setting.
These will likely be entry-level college courses that are paid for by a partnership or program with a local university or high school. Different schools will have different stipulations for having this opportunity and maintaining the ability to take dual credit courses.
For example, some schools have a minimum GPA that must be maintained to continue in the program. This is often a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. You must also meet the prerequisites set forth for the course. Depending on the course level, ACT scores may also be a factor in determining your eligibility to take them.
It’s important to remember that all schools do not accept these college credits. Though you will have the credits, they may only be transferrable to certain schools. This is the same for college-level courses. If you choose to start at one college and finish at another, not all your college credits may be transferable. It is up to you to check with your desired college to ensure that your course will transfer n the event that you are accepted.
Do AP Classes Count as High School Credit?
If dual credit is not of interest to you, do not worry, you have other options. A heavily utilized option that some students take instead of taking dual credit courses is AP courses. Some students may also opt to take both dual credit courses and AP classes at the same time. Though rigorous, taking them would likely have an enormous reward.
If you are unfamiliar, allow us to provide some context about what an AP course is. If you are a high school student looking to understand the credit system in education, it is likely that you have heard the term Advanced Placement before. Advanced Placement courses are also known as AP courses. The College Board, also known as the entity responsible for ACTs and SATs, is also responsible for AP courses. In short, yes, AP credits indeed count for high school credit.
Similar to dual credit courses, an AP course gives students the opportunity to get a head start at college-level courses from the comfort of their high school. However, some classes are offered online or in person. However, the significant difference between AP courses and dual enrollment courses is that students will need to pass the AP exam to potentially have the opportunity to receive college credit or get the chance to skip a course rather than pass the class.
This may sound confusing; however, it is easier to understand than you may think. A student takes the AP course and likely the AP exam as well. During your freshman year of college, it is likely that you will take introductory courses. One of these courses may be equivalent to the Advanced Placement course that was taken in high school. Suppose a student demonstrates that they have knowledge of the material, usually by receiving a satisfactory grade on the AP exam. In that case, a student will be allowed to skip the Freshman level course. The process of letting you forego these courses is where the course gets its name from.
The AP exam is administered through the college board, and this score is counted separately from your grade in the course. There are several courses offered. These classes include things like AP Music Theory, AP Statistics, or even AP Chinese Language. Regardless of if the AP exam is taken for the course, students will receive high school credit as they would for any other class. That is unless their specific school has outlined otherwise.
How Many Credits are Needed to Graduate High School?
Each year a student will need to obtain a specific number of credits to ensure that they are on track to graduation. A particular number of credit hours is required to fulfill the requirements to pass on to the next grade. If a student does not have the required credits, they have the opportunity to make these classes up either during summer school or alternative courses.
Each state will have a different threshold for the number of credits you must receive to obtain a high school diploma. This number can vary by school but, most importantly, by state. For example, if your high school is in Illinois, you will need a total of 16 credits. However, if you live in New Mexico, Missouri, or Florida, you will need 24 credit hours. If you are looking for the given number of credits specific to your state, check with your local school board or state education system.
One of the main things that high school gives you outside of the credit hours is the opportunity to experience a variety of courses. If you have to take several credit hours a quarter, it would be excellent if you actually enjoyed the classes you were taking. However, if you are someone who is looking to do your time and be done, you can adhere to the recommended course schedule.
This, like the credit hours, will vary by state as there is a requirement for the default courses that all students must take. For example, in Illinois, a student must earn a total of 16.75 high school credit hours to receive their diploma. However, these courses must not all be within one subject area.
Students will need four credit hours of English, three credits of math, and two credits of science. These all contribute to the overall number of credit hours that a student must take. Though these are the minimum amounts of credits that must be earned, students also have the option to take more in a given area based on their interests. Therefore your elective course may be a math course and cause you to have a total of more than two credit hours. This is just fine. You will have a minimum completion for English, math, science, social studies, and in some states, art. Students must meet the minimum threshold in each of these areas in order to meet graduation requirements.
How to Calculate High School Credits?
Though it may not seem important, knowing how to calculate your high school credits is essential. This is for not only ensuring that your credits are accurate but that you have enough needed to graduate and enough to satisfy admission requirements for the college of your choice.
There is one other way to check your high school credits without calculating them yourself. That method is by requesting your transcript. Your transcript will have a history of all of the classes that you have taken. It will also let you know how many credits you have earned thus far.
However, if you would prefer to calculate your credits the old-fashioned way, that can be done as well; all you will need is a copy of your schedule or know the classes you have taken thus far. Generally, there will be a standard number of credits that each class is worth. This typical amount may, of course, differ by state or school. Some schools will use credits or break their courses down into units. It is essential to know which one you are using before calculating. This is because units are often considered a smaller measurement than credits.
Carnegie units are a standard measurement that is used across the country. One unit is equivalent to an entire year of coursework when using Carnegie units. This is a general consensus among states though there are some exceptions to this rule.
To begin calculating, you will need to know the total amount of units or high school credits needed to graduate. Once you have this number, you will need to add up the total number of points or credits that you have received. You can then subtract your number from the number of total units. This will leave you with the number of credits left over to complete.
Some schools, however, will break things down by academic subject. This way asserts that a student needs X amount of credits in different subjects. Therefore, you may also add everything by subject and find your total. This allows you to gauge how many credits are still left for each study area.
If you are a struggling student or you know that you may or may not have enough credits to be on track for graduation, this is something you should frequently do. This will allow you to know where you stand before it is too late and ultimately allows yourself time to take the corrective action. This corrective action may be taking summer school at your current institution, as well as night school or supplemental coursework from elsewhere to help you get back on your feet.
Wrapping Things Up: What is a Credit in High School?
Overall, credits are utilized to determine if a student has met the requirements needed for graduation. There is a set sum of credits that students will need to graduate and will not receive a diploma if they have not met this number. Generally, this is number can range between 14 and 25. It all depends on the state in which you live.
There are also several creative ways for students to attend courses to receive credit for high school and have the potential to receive college credit. This is through AP classes and dual credit courses. These are often the best options for academically talented students as the coursework is more rigorous and college-level. Though you are receiving credit for these courses, students can optionally take the AP exam for the opportunity to receive high school credit or receive the credit for course completion.
Your transcript can be used to get a sum of all of the courses that you have taken thus far, or you can calculate them manually. However, one option may be far more accessible. Overall, we hope this article helps you and you enjoy your high school experience.
If you enjoyed this post, it’s one of many where we extensively detail the best tips for succeeding in high school.