Credits with a Purpose

What are credits with a purpose?

These are credits that are relevant to your career and college goals, and thus they are more transferable or can count towards your selected degree program after high school. Finding out which credits are transferable into your degree program can be a challenging task. We encourage all students to seek out resources to understand credit utility and transferability. These resources are available at the college you plan to attend and/or through your high school counseling center.


Alonso seeks to pursue nursing in the state of Oregon. He has an opportunity to earn up to 50 college credits before he leaves high school. How should Alonso select the credit he signs up for throughout his high school career?

Alonso should:

  1. Talk to his high school counselor/teacher to understand what credit is available and how it fits with the first-year of a nursing program.

  2. Find what courses are required for a first-year nursing program. Work with college or high school officials to help map the curriculum.

  3. Perform well! Alonso should know that his dual credit becomes part of his official transcript. Since nursing is often a competitive admission process, Alonso should work to academically succeed in his dual credit class.

  4. Think twice about more than a few courses in Italian Literature or Woodshop. Those courses will be very rewarding, but Alonso might do just as well if he takes them for high school credit only. Alonso avoids paying for credits he might not use, for the college credit, since those subjects don’t fit well into nursing curriculum.

Accelerated Credit Accumulation

As you earn college credit in high school, you may want to understand that earning a large amount of credit without knowing how it will transfer into your future major might work against you, the reverse of what accelerated credit is meant to provide. Earning credits that don’t transfer into a degree or certificate may mean you have more time to degree and subsequent tuition at the college or university you attend. To this end, here are some guiding principles when earning college credit in high school:

  1. Select credits with a purpose. Know how the credits will transfer to your college of choice.

  2. Understand credit accumulation. Know that coming out of high school with 15, 20 or even 50+ credits is a great accomplishment! So how will those credits work for you? Having a “ton” of college credit may not directly lead to cost or time savings.

  3. As you meet college recruiters, or admissions staff, prepare your credit transfer questions for them (if possible, show them your transcripts):

    1. How do these courses transfer in at your college?

    2. How will these courses help me complete my degree at your university?

    3. Will my first year at your school be different considering these college credits I have already earned?

To maximize the value of the college credits you earn in high school, focus on credits with a purpose!