Cross Enrollment Can Be a Great Opportunity to Challenge Yourself


Picture courtesy of College Board.

You may or may not be familiar with the term cross enrollment, but for purposes of this article, let’s define it as the chance for students to take AP level classes ahead of the traditionally scheduled year.  An example would be students students taking AP Biology freshmen year instead of senior year. Why is this such a big deal? In speaking with both Mr. Sean Byrne, Department Chair for Science and Industrial Technology, and Mrs. Sandy Smith, science teacher, the opportunities are tremendous.

If you test high enough on your Explore tests in 8th grade and are ready to put in the work, you can be placed into an AP class. Cross enrollment may provide a challenge for students already demonstrating an above-average aptitude and interest in the subject matter. They can forego the introductory classes and jump straight into the AP-level course.

Concerning his opinion on cross enrollment AP classes, Mr. Byrne stated, “I think it is great. Glenbard West has an awesome challenging curriculum. For kids up for a challenge, it’s good to [cross enroll]. AP Biology is one where kids can get good information and can go into AP instead of honors. However, AP Physics is different and requires Calculus, and you would need more background information. You would need to take Honors Physics before taking AP Physics. Not all students should be jumping ahead classes. It needs to be a special circumstance and then the right student would need to be taking the right course for their level.”

Cross enrollment in AP classes is not a new thing to come to Glenbard West this year. Mrs. Smith stated that AP classes have been a part of West for quite some time, and West has been doing cross enrollment for a few years now.

When asked if there was a significant increase in the number of students cross enrolling in AP classes over previous years, Mr. Byrne commented,  “The number of students is not significantly higher. There is a steady increase between all the years. Every year is grown by 5 or 10%.”

There are benefits of cross enrollment. You can get a stronger sense of the school culture and extend academic relationships with your peers. Students are taking more challenging courses earlier, which can help to prepare them for the future.

When asked if she had any concerns about cross enrollment, Mrs. Smith stated, “It works well with the freshmen, they tend to be very successful. [The freshmen] are nervous before and socially the seniors embrace the freshmen. There are some small issues, but the seniors are mature enough to accept it and help the freshmen.”

Mr. Byrne commented that, “Taking AP classes is not for everyone. [Cross enrollment is] only for students who are motivated and it can only work with specific courses. We don’t want to stress kids out. Students already feel pressure and we don’t want to foster competition. We would like to create opportunities for students where they would like it.”

Kathryn Glynn, a freshman taking AP Biology, commented that she finds it nice to have cross enrollment classes. In lab groups, she has two upperclassmen, and two underclassmen. It can be difficult sometimes because they have different past science experiences.  Kathryn did say the work could be pretty difficult, however, it does help to have upperclassmen because they can guide you and they have more experience with the subject.

Other subjects that have seen cross enrollment, mainly with sophomores and seniors, would be AP Human Geography and AP European History.   If you feel you are ready for a challenge and cross enrollment might be for you, talk with your guidance counselor and your current subject teacher .