Upper-level options give kids choice


Edgar Meirhofer

AP Human Geography students work on a project in teacher HazelAnne Prescott’s class. AP Human is the first AP class for many high schoolers.

Fallon Head, Website editor

During Course Selection Day, students chose from among dozens of classes for the 2023-24 school year. For students choosing upper level classes to earn college credits, their options ranged from Advanced Placement to Dual Credit to OnRamps. Knowing which class is best for individual students can be challenging.

“You have to learn to be independent, because once you get to college classes, you go off on your own,” said junior Kara O’Hara, who is taking both AP and OnRamps classes this year. “You have to learn to be responsible for your work, and not have someone constantly reminding you of it.”

Statistics from Dr. Tong Utakrit, Humble ISD’s director of advanced learning and services, shows that last year, 64% of Humble ISD students who took AP tests got a passing grade of 3 or higher. In comparison, 84% of students who took Dual Credit classes in the summer earned college credit, and 75% of students who took classes through the OnRamps program earned college credit.

Advanced Placement classes

AP classes provide students with the opportunity to earn college credit by earning a high enough score on a test taken at the end of the year.

For social studies teacher Eric Coovert, he has separate sections of AP US History and Dual-Credit US History this year. The main difference between the two classes is the amount of writing, he said.
“Pretty much the AP exam, it’s two-thirds writing now these days,” Coovert said. “So, for example, even today in my own classroom, I’m teaching about how to write what’s called a long essay question, and that will never stop until they take the AP exam.”

AP classes are structured similarly to the faster-paced advanced classes offered in middle school and high school. The main difference is the fee students have to pay in order to take the exam that would give them college credit for the class.

“I was in pre-AP for a long time, so I was already kind of used to…more than on level would demand from you, kind of thing,” said senior Cece Gonzalez, who is taking an AP, a Dual Credit and an OnRamps class this year. “But AP classes, my first impression was there’s more tests than I thought. Like my first AP class I took was AP Human, and there’s more tests and more assignments in general.”

OnRamps classes

OnRamps classes are run through the University of Texas. Most, if not all, of the work in OnRamps classes count toward a college grade. A student’s college credit is not determined solely on one test, like in AP classes.
At the end of the year, students choose whether they want to accept the college grade they earned.

“You can almost teach yourself the material at home with notes, videos and stuff,” Gonzalez said. “And then your teacher in high school is almost like your friend who’s helping you along and learning the content with you almost. I would say it’s more focused on what UT or the college is actually giving you rather than what the teacher wants to teach or the teacher’s specific assignments.”

Dual Credit courses

Dual credit classes are run through Lone Star College. The grades students earn on their quizzes and test grades are the only grades the college takes.

“[With] Lone Star, it’s different because I’ve only taken one,” Gonzalez said. “I took Lone Star English this year. The teacher kind of assigns whatever she wants, like her own kind of things.”

And then she just puts in grades like test grades, quiz grades for the college. It is way more hands on. Lone Star is very much like, OK, just get the credit.”

If students stay in upper-level classes, they don’t always have a choice between the three options. Science is either OnRamps or AP. History is all three: OnRamps, Dual Credit or AP. And English is either OnRamps or AP.

“I would recommend all the classes,” said junior Mark Johanson, who is taking two Dual Credit classes and one AP class this year. “As long as you know that you can handle the challenge, you should definitely try to push yourself to be better.”