Keeping it Reel

3 Ways a High Schooler Can Get Ahead Academically AND Financially

Between applying for colleges, scheduling campus visits, researching degree programs, and generally planning out the next four years of your life, you may find it hard to think of the here and now. But surprisingly, one of the best things you can do to prepare for your college career is to focus on what you’ll be doing for the rest of your high school career. There are two main things you should pay attention to: academics and finances. And there are three HUGE things you can do to come out ahead in both.



1. Take Advanced Placement Courses

Advanced Placement or “A.P.” courses are college-level courses that a high school offers to students who wish to earn college credit while still attending high school. Students who take these courses have the option of taking an “A.P. Exam” towards the end of the regular school year. Depending on the results of their exam, students may receive college credit from certain schools.

For example, if a student has an interest in writing they may sign up for their school’s A.P. Language and Composition class. If they take the test and pass with a 4 (exams are graded on a 1-5 scale), they can receive three English college credits at most colleges and thus not be required to take a core English class in college.

This provides a student with three main benefits.

1. They have more room in their college schedule to take classes they are interested in
2. They are one step closer to earning a college degree
3. They have saved a significant amount of money. An A.P. Exam costs around $92 to take. The average college course at a 4-year, public university (for a student taking 30 credits a year) costs approximately $939.


2. Dual Enroll

In addition to A.P. courses, many high schools also have Dual Enrollment programs. These programs allow high school students to enroll in college courses prior to graduating. Unlike A.P courses, a student participating in dual enrollment takes an ACTUAL college class at an ACTUAL college, instead of taking a college-level class at their high school.

Students participating in these programs have the opportunity to see what a college course is like before becoming a college student. They are able to observe the differences between high school and college class structures and high school and college teachers. In addition, they can fulfill their high school graduation requirements while earning college credit and exploring college programs. Since most high schools cover the cost of dual enrollment, students save money earning credits early.


3. High School Summer Programs

Many colleges have summer programs specifically geared towards giving high school students a look at the college experience. During many of these programs, students are able to explore their areas of interest while meeting other high school students who have similar passions. Through these programs, numerous students are able to solidify their major choice, as well as hone in on things that are important to them in a college.

The curriculum and price of a summer program varies from college to college, but some give students the opportunity to take courses and earn college credit.


Getting ahead academically in high school might seem like a lot of work, but if you participate in any of the eoptions above, you’ll be saving yourself time, money, and ultimately effort! And hey, as a bonus, we have one more way you can get ahead.

You’ve probably thought a little bit about what you want to study in college, but have you actually decided yet? Here at Columbia College Hollywood, we offer eight film Emphases: Directing, producing, writing, acting, new media, cinematography, sound, and Editing and Visual Effects.

This blog is a collaborative effort by CCH staff and administration who want to share their knowledge with the film school community and prospective students.

At CCH, we believe it is important to take a stand by demonstrating our willingness to promote and inspire systemic change. We must speak honestly and truthfully to the ugliness of racism that permeates throughout our society today. It may be an uncomfortable conversation for some, but it is an all-too familiar reality for anyone living in this country with black or brown skin. Hiding from it, ignoring it, or being silent about it will not make it go away.

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