Posted in College Admission, Community college, Dual Enrollment, Uncategorized

Community College in the News

NPR Want to Finish College?

Did anyone read The Center for Community College Student Engagement Report 2017? Maybe not, but you may have read about it on NPR’s website this morning.  If you have the time, you can read the quick summary linked above.  I’m going to take a moment and share my thoughts, which I think other Homeschooling for College Credit parents may find useful.

“Center for Community College Student Engagement demonstrates that students who enroll full-time in community colleges fare better than their part-time counterparts…50 percent of always-full-time students earned an associate degree or certificate. In contrast, only 23 percent of always-part-time students complete their degrees.”

The community college was my employer for 18 years.  I worked for the largest district in the state of Iowa, first as a department chair and administrator, and later when I started homeschooling, as a community college teacher.  Some of you may remember reading in Homeschooling for College Credit, that I was confused by the lack of love for the community college system- it serves a lot of people from all walks of life.  In fact, if you’ve followed our Facebook Group, you know that I have a lot of great things to say about the community college as a system.  That being said…..

The community colleges seem a little out of touch lately with their role in the education industry and seem to be having a bit of an identity crisis.

“Probably for over a decade now, there’s been a lot of conversation about getting more students to complete community college,” says Evelyn Waiwaiole, executive director for the Center for Community College Student Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin. “While attending full-time will be unrealistic for every student, we need to think about why always-part-time students are having a qualitatively different experience and push for changes to be made.”

Here’s what she didn’t say- community college completion rates are somewhere around 8-12% depending on what source you reference. These rates make upper administration lose their minds- and I get it, they want to see higher numbers like those of a 4-year college (about 50-65% which is still pretty low), but what if they’re worried about the wrong thing?  Not everyone uses the community college to earn an Associate of Arts degree!

Community colleges serve a purpose.  They are open enrollment, which is to say that no matter your academic ability, they’ll let you sign up to learn something.  Whether you take courses for credit or personal enrichment, you’re allowed to register.  If you don’t have the required credentials or prerequisite test scores to take certain courses, they’ll provide those too.  Community colleges provide an avenue to earn a GED as well as many quick-employment certificates that can lead to immediate job training.  IN ADDITION, they also award Associate degrees.  

degree

It is my opinion that upper administration has lost sight of their role in our community, and has really started to push for all their students to earn an Associate degree.  Yet, an Associate degree doesn’t always transfer to a 4-year college (depends on your state) and an Associate degree isn’t always an efficient route to a career (ex. Real Estate License requires completing a course, not a degree) and an Associate degree is usually full of general education courses- the very courses students complain about.

The report and summary go on to argue that when students attend full time vs part time, that they’re more likely to complete a degree (this shouldn’t shock anyone) so we should encourage all students to attend full time!  This was the best-dressed marketing effort I’ve read this year.  Of course, colleges want your student to attend full time, of course, they do.  You don’t need an economics lesson from me to tell you why community colleges want to increase their enrollment or why 4-year colleges think you should skip community college and head right to their front door.

EVERYONE is fighting for your student and the dollars they bring. EVERYONE wants enrollment.

So, what does this mean for homeschooling families who want to know where the community college fits into their high school?  I want to point out some reasons that I think the community college is worth your consideration.  This isn’t an apologetics piece, but it’s not a criticism either- it’s simply my thoughts and opinion on how to use the community college in high school and after graduation.


 

For homeschooled high school teens:

  1. DUAL ENROLLMENT.  It’s the community college is the most likely college to allow dual enrollment participation for your teen.  While a few private colleges offer this option, but those programs tend to have competitive admissions or restrictive summer programs.  Community college dual enrollment allows full semester enrollment that awards college credit alongside the high school credit awarded by the parent.
  2. VARIETY:  Dual enrollment through the community college is broader than that of a 4-year college, and includes liberal arts as well as career and trade occupational courses- reflective of the kinds of degree programs offered at the college.
  3.  NON-CREDIT:  The community college closest to you offers a nice catalog of non-credit options.  These are perfectly compatible with homeschooling and can be used as a full curriculum.  Best of all, non-credit options do not require the student to “apply” to the college, rather they simply “register” for the course.  Examples you’ll probably find locally include full sequences of foreign languages, computer programs, and even those that lead to licensure or certifications (property management, real estate, nursing assistant, EMT, and others)  The entrance requirement is usually “age 16” however exceptions can sometimes be made.
  4. TUITION BREAKS:  Some states have community college (or public 4-year college) funding that allows high school students to take courses for free or reduced tuition.  Call your local community college to see if your state has this program.
  5. DISTANCE LEARNING:  Community colleges have really embraced distance learning and a number Homeschooling for College Credit families use community colleges from all over the country.  In other words, you can live in any state and take advantage of the super-low tuition offered through New Mexico’s community college system (about $40/credit).
  6. TESTING CENTER:  If you’re looking for a CLEP or DSST testing center, it’s probably at your community college.  Typically, community colleges have lower proctoring fees than the 4-year colleges.
  7. TRANSFER-FRIENDLY:  Universities in your state almost always all dual enrollment and summer credit earned in high school to transfer to their university.  If they don’t, it’s probably because they don’t accept transfer credit as a general policy, not because of the community college.
  8. PRESERVING FRESHMAN SCHOLARSHIPS:  Credit earned while enrolled in high school almost never counts “against” freshman status, leaving your teen eligible for freshman scholarships.  Typically, the credit earned during high school is applied once the student is already enrolled and sometimes after completion of the first semester.  In other words, they enroll as a freshman, and after 1 semester may be bumped to a sophomore or junior.
  9. HIGHER LEVEL COURSES:  If your teen finishes calculus or French 4 by sophomore year in high school, you’re probably going to have a hard time locating a suitable higher level course.  For those students, it makes sense to enroll in the community college and access no only college credit, but classes at a higher level.

For homeschool graduates:

  1. OPEN ENROLLMENT:  The community college will enroll your homeschool graduate.  The entire “college application process” can be removed from your equation, and your teen can simply register for classes.  In the case of not meeting a certain benchmark for a certain class, the community college will provide a pathway to make it happen.  For instance, if your teen never finished Algebra 1, never took the SAT, and struggles through math, they can still enroll.  There are no essays, interviews, SAT scores, letters of reference, etc.  The college welcomes all students and places them in the level they need, even if the level is lower than “college level.”
  2. TRANSCRIPT ACCEPTANCE:  You can be sure that your homeschool transcript will be accepted at your community college.
  3. LAST MINUTE ENROLLMENT:  Applying a year ahead of enrollment is great if you have a target college in mind, but community colleges allow application and enrollment even through the first week of classes- assuming there is space.
  4. ENTRANCE TESTING:  The majority of community colleges offer their own entrance test at no charge.  This test, taken on your own schedule, is to assess writing, reading, and math level.  There is no way to “fail” this test, though doing well is obviously better for your student.  Students who have taken high school tests like ACT or SAT can sometimes use those in place of entrance testing.
  5. CLEP/AP/DSST AWARDS:  The majority of community colleges award college credit by exam for CLEP, AP, and DSST.  While policies vary, it is unusual that they would award little to nothing (if that’s the case, pick a different community college).
  6. ACCREDITATION:  Community colleges are all regionally accredited, that is the gold standard.  Note that not all 2-year colleges are community colleges and not all 4-year colleges are regionally accredited!
  7. ARTICULATION:  About half of the states have articulation agreements in place, which are formal contractual agreements between the community college and the state’s public colleges.  These agreements guarantee transfer of certificates, diplomas, degrees, or courses.  It’s also worth emphasizing that about half of the states don’t have articulation agreements, but if yours does, this is a huge bonus.
  8. GED / HIGH SCHOOL EQUIVALENCY: If your student wants a GED, prep courses and advisement are available (almost always for free) through your community college. Most community colleges offer the exam as well.  In addition, some of the new high school equivalency exams are worth 10 college credits.
  9. CERTIFICATES:  Unlike a 4-year university, community colleges have “bite-sized” programs that issue certificates or certification after as few as 1 class.  These are usually directed toward job training or a specialization (forklift certification, graphic design, etc.)  Sometimes, the classes inside of a certificate will transfer into a larger diploma or degree at the same college.
  10. TERMINAL DEGREES:  The term “terminal degree” means that the degree has an ending point, in other words, there is not education beyond the terminal degree.  Often, you’ll hear a Ph.D. referred to as a “terminal degree” because there is no degree higher, but at a community college, Associate of Applied Science and Associate of Occupational Studies are also terminal degrees.  These degrees are not intended to transfer to a 4-year college, the degree is the highest training in that industry, and at the completion of the degree, the student enters their career. Besides an AA or AS degree, almost every degree at the community college is a terminal degree.
  11. STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICES:  Unlike 4-year colleges, a community college sees a huge population that needs special support.  Whether it’s simple tutoring or accommodating a diagnosed disability, the community college is excellent at serving this segment of our population.
  12. AGE LIMITS:  Community colleges serve students from age 10-100 and attending classes on campus will likely expose your teen to people of all ages.  While the 4-year colleges serve the traditionally aged student (17-22), it’s not unusual to see a huge age range in any community college classroom.  We have Homeschooling for College Credit families with very young teens taking classes (as young as 12) and as a teacher, I’ve had retired senior citizens in my classes- they were some of my best students!
  13. COST:  Community college is almost always the lowest cost option for traditional college attendance.  The average cost of tuition at a community college is $100 per credit, so an average course (3 credits) will cost you roughly $300 plus books.  While this is a lot more expensive than some of the methods we talk about here (CLEP, AP, DSST, Straighterline, Saylor, etc.) those cost saving methods are alternatives that aren’t good options for everyone.  On your basic English 101 taken on campus with an instructor, your community college is likely to be your most affordable option.  As such, you should know community colleges WANT you to stay local.  They often hike the prices beyond belief when you are out of the district or out of state.  If you can’t attend your local community college, all cost promises are off the table.
  14. PELL GRANTS = FREE TUITION:  A Pell Grant is a financial need-based grant given to eligible students who have filled out the FAFSA financial aid application.  Grants don’t have to be repaid, so if your student qualifies for a Pell Grant, it will absolutely go the farthest at your community college.  Some quick math- a full Pell Grant award in 2017 is $5,575.00  That means, if your teen qualifies and attends college full time, they should receive $5,575.00  If you divide that by the number of credits you’d complete as a full-time student in 1 year (30), you’ll get $185.83.  That means, that your student’s Pell Grant will pay full tuition if your college’s per credit rate is under $185.83!  (know that the average in-state 4-year university charges about $300 per credit, and the average private 4-year university charges about $1100 per credit!)

Referenced:  Center for Community College Student Engagement 2017 National Report

 

Posted in AP Advanced Placement, Curriculum, High School, Science

A Little Bit About Physics

Physics is often the “last” science a student takes in high school- if at all.  Let’s face it, it’s too much math for most people, because, well, physics is math!  

Navigating physics gave me fits for years until I read a recent post from SolarKat over on InstantCert.  For those who want to study physics, he shares some great advice and gave me permission to share it here with all of you.

“I would encourage a LOT of math. Physics, at its heart, is math. Plus, if your student decides he wants to go further with physics, he’s likely to need Calculus 1, Calculus 2, Multivariable Calculus, Differential Equations, Linear Algebra, and Statistics. Ideally Numerical Methods, too.”

Ok, wow!  That’s a lot to digest.  Let’s take it down a few levels and look at physics as a subject.  (In my case, I wanted this explained to me like I’m a 10-year-old so this might be a little too simple for some of you.) In short, “real scientists” tell you that physics must be calculus-based.  When asking more about the differences, this was the reply:

“in algebra-based physics, you let the partition of finite difference and summation goes to 0, you will get a calculus-based physics. Nothing else more than that.”

Reference https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/calculus-based-physics-vs-algebra-based-physics.216149/

Huh?!  Ok, that’s not like I’m a 10-year-old.  So, after more digging, I’ve reduced physics into the absolute simplest terms that I could understand.  If you need more depth, the physics forum referenced above is excellent.  But, I think this says it all:

“To really understand physics, I think you have to understand calculus, but calculs largley came from physics so they are intertwined. Just about all physics equations are dervied with some help from calculus.”

Reference https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/calculus-based-physics-vs-algebra-based-physics.216149/page-2

There are essentially 2 types of introductory physics

Physics 1 (Mechanics)

Physics 2 (Electromagnetics)

Both types will fall into either

Algebra-based (non-science)

Calculus-based (science)

So, as you navigate the high school physics options and the college credit options, my recommendation is to take into consideration your teen’s long-term college and career goals.  If your student will major in any of the liberal arts or career fields (even pre-med) then algebra-based physics will meet their needs!  If your student is headed into any of the hard sciences, engineering, or math, then you’ll want to start them on the proper path (calculus-based) after they’ve studied calculus.

The MOST IMPORTANT takeaway I can offer you is to know which type of mathematical base is being used in the class before you sign up your teen, and choose based on their long-term study plans.

For your science major teen:  wait until after calculus 1 to begin the study of physics.

For your non-science major teen:  study physics anytime or after algebra 2.


AP Physics (Credit by Exam) 

  • AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism (Calculus-based)
    AP Physics C: Mechanics (Calculus-based)
    AP Physics 1: Algebra-Based (Mechanics) formerly called AP Physics B
    AP Physics 2: Algebra-Based (Electromagnetics) formerly called AP Physics B

 

Popular High School Physics Curriculum

  • Conceptual Physics (Algebra-based)
  • Saxon Physics (Algebra-based)
  • DIVE Physics (Algebra-based)
  • Exploration Education Physical Science Course (Algebra-based)
  • Novare Physical Science: A Mastery-Oriented Curriculum (Algebra-based)
  • Robinson Curriculum (Calculus-based)
  • A.C.E. Physical Science (Algebra-based)
  • BJU Press Physics (Algebra-based)
  • Apologia Advanced Physics (Algebra-based)

 

Free Physics Curriculum/Classes

 

College Credit Options for High School Students

  • AP exams:  anyone can take an AP exam.  Use your favorite algebra-based or calculus-based physics curriculum to prepare for the AP exam.  AP exams are worth advanced standing or college credit at most colleges.   2017 AP exam dates
  • Saylor Academy Physics 1 (Calculus-based)
  • Saylor Academy Physics II (Calculus-based)
    • Both of the Saylor courses offer a $25 college credit exam at the completion of the course.  The type of college credit awarded is ACE credit, and not well accepted by colleges, but is guaranteed transfer through their direct partner colleges or the Alternative Credit Project arrangement.
  • Straighterline General Physics 1 with Lab (Calculus-based)
    • Straighterline awards ACE credit for successful completion of the course.  ACE credit is not well accepted by colleges but is guaranteed transfer through their partnership agreements with 100 colleges or Alternative Credit Project.
  • Dual Enrollment:  contact your local community college to see if your teen is eligible for college enrollment as a high school student.
  • CLEP Exam:  only about 25% of the CLEP exam Natural Sciences contains algebra-based physics 1 & 2.  (another 25% chemistry, and 50% biology)  There is no CLEP exam specifically for physics.
  • DSST Exam:  50% of the DSST Physical Science exam contains algebra-based physics 1 & 2.  (the other 50% is chemistry).  There is no DSST exam specifically for physics.

 

 

Posted in Resources

The BEST Resources

These are some my favorite resources that I use time and again on my family’s homeschooling for college credit journey.

There are so many excellent experts, products, and resources that I’ve just picked the one BEST in each category to share with you.  I know you’ll love them too!


The BEST Curriculum Review Guide

  102 Top Picks by Cathy Duffy.  Cathy Duffy is the guru of curriculum reviewing- if you are considering a brand, she’s done a review.  Her reviews are on point and detailed.  Parents who are looking for specifically Christian or specifically secular material will find her reviews exceptionally helpful!  She is 100% my “go-to” when I’m researching curriculum.


The BEST Test Prep Flashcards

InstantCert Academy,CLEP,DSST,ECE,TECEP InstantCert is the one resource on this page that I have a financial relationship with.  I joined their online community in March 2007, and after ten dedicated years of service to their forum, I decided to ask them for a coupon code that I could share with parents on this site. If you use the InstanCert link here, it gives you and me a $5 discount off their $20/month membership.  InstantCert is an online flashcard and forum community.  They have flashcards targeted directly to credit by exam products, and their forum and community share specific feedback about exams.  If you’ve gone through curriculum and are ready to focus on testing, I highly suggest giving IC a month’s investment- you might end up staying on for 10 years!


The BEST Free CLEP Prep Site

freeclepFree CLEP Prep You may not know that there is an excellent and completely free prep site for CLEP and DSST exams.  They even give a suggested ranking of “difficulty” for certain tests, provide simple study guides, and even have a few practice tests.  I hope they eventually develop content for all the exams, but until then, there are excellent guides for most of the popular ones!


The BEST Site to Check a College’s Accreditation

accredited.jpgDepartment of Education Database Accreditation is so very important, but colleges that aren’t legitimate will lie or stretch the truth on their websites, so you should never trust a college’s own website!  There are different types of accreditation, and while there are situations that don’t require it, my recommendation is to always choose a REGIONALLY ACCREDITED college unless you can make a strong argument for not doing so.  Within this link, click on the first option (“Get data for one…”) and then you can choose to search by institution or search by accrediting agency.  Pan down and choose from their list.  Note:  Regional accreditation is superior to national accreditation.


The BEST Selection of Audio Books

bookLoyal Books Loyal Books (formerly called Books Should Be Free) is so incredible that you should stop reading right now and check it out.  I can’t even do them justice.  Phenomenal.  You don’t even have to download- just click play.


 

The BEST Selection of Massive Open Online Courses

ededX I realize that free classes are sometimes poor quality, but that’s exactly why edX is such a big deal.  edX is a nonprofit collaboration that started in 2012 between Harvard and MIT.   This collection of completely free and completely open (no application) courses are taught by Harvard, MIT, Columbia, Princeton, and dozens more elite universities from all over the world.  In the past year or so, they’ve also expanded to offer college credit options, certificates, transfer classes.  In cases where you’re seeking credit or a credential, they’ve added a cost.  Learning remains free.


The BEST Official CLEP Book

clep CLEP Official Study Guide There are a lot of CLEP books, but if you only buy one book, this is the one.  It runs about $15 new and contains specific exam information for all 33 exams.  Each exam’s outline, base content, and then practice questions.  It also explains how scoring and testing works.  Since it’s very likely that all exams will undergo revision in late 2018, you’ll want to get a new edition for 2019, but until then, used is fine. My edition is from 2006!


 

Posted in CLEP, College Admission, High School

We just saved $96,780

I have to share my correspondence with one of our Minnesota members. She has graciously agreed to let me post it here:

“With CLEP and PSEO (dual enrollment), I just calculated we are saving $96,780 at the University of Northwestern St. Paul.

1/3 of that is in CLEP alone: 32 credit hours, which is about $30,260. Then, two years free through dual enrollment which is another $30,260 X 2 =$60,520.  

We are saving far more money by CLEPping and dual enrollment than we could get in scholarships.  -Carol Lang Frisk


She’s not exaggerating, I pulled the numbers to share with you.  

It’s -seriously- phenomenal.  Read on…


2017–18 Tuition & Fees 

The University of Northwestern St. Paul

  1. Tuition……………………………………………..$30,260
  2. Room………………………………………………….$5,570
  3. Meal Plan……………………………………………$3,700
  4. Technology Fee……………………………………..$260
  5. Health Services Fee……………………………….$124
  6. Activity Fee……………………………………………..$150
  7. Personal Expenses** …………………………..$2,120
  8. Books & Supplies** ………………………………..$600
  9. Transportation**…………………………………….$620

TOTAL …………………………………..$43,404

 

It’s worth noting that the green items with ** indicate variable expenses you can control to some degree.  (Does anyone else think the college has under-estimated the cost of books?)  So, to be fair, let’s round down to $40,000 per year- just the cost Carol’s family will be BILLED.  

Without smart planning, Carol and her daughter may have wandered onto campus and signed up for a $160,000 degree!  Thankfully, she’ll found a way to bring that cost down closer to $40,000.


Secondary savings and benefits gained by Carol’s plan:

  • In addition to reducing tuition cost, this family will cut items #2- #9 on the list by at least two years!  She won’t have to pay the meal plans, health services fees, technology fees, etc. if she’s not there!

  • A scholarship, while saving cost, doesn’t save TIME.   Injecting college credit in high school is extra work, but it is saving this student a full 2 years off the TIME it takes to finish her degree.  

  • Graduating 2 years earlier than her peers puts her into her career 2 years earlier, thus accelerating her ability to earn a supporting salary.

  • If entering the workforce isn’t in the immediate future, she has time to travel, volunteer, serve, or attend graduate school while her peers finish their undergraduate degree.

  • If she does take out a student loan, she’ll begin repayment 2 years earlier than if she attended a full 4 years- which saves 2 years worth of interest.

  • The average in-state public college costs about $40,000 for 4 years- they’ve found a way to attend a private college for the same price.

  • Using CLEP exams allowed Carol to choose appropriate homeschool curriculum that aligned with their family values while earning college credit. 

  • Using CLEP exams allowed Carol’s daughter to move quickly through subjects she easily understood, and spend more time on those that gave her trouble. 

  • Using CLEP exams and dual enrollment allowed Carol’s family to make credit accumulation a “pay-as-you-go” situation, which is ultimately the most affordable option for many parents.


How much did they spend?  What exams did she take?


 

Carol shared that her daughter earned 45 CLEP credits, but this college only awards credit for 32.  Here’s her list, cost, and reward:

16 credits Spanish CLEP ($100)   This college awards up to 16 credits for the Spanish CLEP exam but requires the student to pass a second college based test for verification.  This will give her credit in Spanish I, II, III, and IV.  (note: most colleges award up to 9 credits)

4 credits World Religions DSST ($100)  DSST is nearly identical to CLEP.

4 credits College Composition CLEP ($100)

4 credits Western Civilization CLEP ($100) 

1 credit Here’s to Your Health DSST ($100) 

3 credit (CLEP) to be determined ($100)

TOTAL INVESTMENT:  $600


Parents who inject CLEP exams into their homeschool by using it as a “final exam” don’t really have that much extra added cost- they’re buying curriculum anyway, so the risk is in paying for an exam.  Currently, CLEP exams cost $80 but a testing center typically charges about $20 for proctoring services, so it’s safest to budget $100 per exam.

Since exams usually award 3-6 credits, the $100 investment is well worth the risk!  You’d have to fail the CLEP exam 5 or 6 times before it’s more expensive than the college class.


Have you thought about using CLEP or DSST to help offset college costs for your teen?  If so, what’s your strategy?  Do you have tips for getting the biggest bang for your buck? Share them below!


Reader D.M. sent me this lovely note:

“Hi. I just wanted to share a story with you. I have struggled to get my almost 15yo daughter interested in taking CLEP exams. This has recently changed! She is now obsessed with preparing. What has changed? She started the Dave Ramsey financial curriculum and I forwarded the blog post you wrote about Carol Lang Frisk. She is now hoping to take and pass three exams this summer. I hope this inspiration continues!” 

Posted in College Admission, High School, Self-Paced Learning

Trending: Non-College Learning

Old-School, MOOCs, Coding Bootcamps, and now MissionU

Depending on the age of your teens, your techno-savviness, and how closely you follow educational trends, some of this may already be old news…. but, hold onto your chalk, the landscape of higher education is changing, and it’s happening FAST!

Higher Education in the USA hadn’t changed much for centuries.  That’s no exaggeration.  First, we had Harvard (1636), and then about a hundred years later we had a few public universities, and then almost two hundred years later we got our first community college (Joliet Jr. College in Illinois was founded in 1901).  If you were a young person growing up at that time, the line between a college educated man and one who wasn’t was clear and thick.  If you were “smart enough” and “had means” you applied to college.  Remember that during the early 1900’s it wasn’t even expected that you’d graduate high school, so college was an exceptionally high aspiration for that time in history; college was an enormous privilege.  

In fact, it wasn’t until late 1960’s that we hit a national high school graduation rate of 50%!

Even at the turn of the new millennium, fewer than 25% of adults held a bachelor’s degree…. but, close to 80% held a high school diploma with some amount of college.  Wow! What a huge spike!   Since I’m not an academic researcher, I won’t pretend to know all of the influences that contributed to that spike, however, if you’re near my age, you were raised by baby boomers and undoubtedly heard the same message I did:

“Go to college so you’ll get a good job.”

The message was loud and clear, so much so, that people in my generation headed to college in very large numbers.  If you’re in my generation and didn’t go to college (so you’ll get a good job) you’ve still probably told your own children zillion times that they must go to college (so they’ll get a good job) and it should be pursued at all costs.  It’s deeply ingrained!  But is it still the right advice?


The reason for the quick history lesson is to demonstrate the growth pace of higher education from 1600’s to 1700’s (like a turtle) and then to the 1800’s (same turtle) and then to the 1900’s (same old tired turtle).  From 1900 to 2000 our turtle gets spunky, but from 2000 to 2017?  He’s pretty much got a jet engine strapped to his back.

When old-fashioned correspondence courses were replaced by computer-based distance learning around 2000, everything changed.   Within only 5 years- the industry computermanaged to get a handle on delivering legitimate and accredited courses through roughly 98% of all public colleges and universities, and by the end of the first decade, you could even attend public K-12 online.   For our children, the “go to college” message is very strong, but our children are more resourceful and capable of attaining an education than we could have ever imagined.  With access to information only a click away, our teens expect education to be free, streaming, and shareable.  They expect technologically capabilities that remove inefficiencies – and there are more than a few inefficiencies in the “traditional” college experience.

Some estimate that just under half of all college students will take at least one online course during the completion of their degree, but millions will take courses that are both free and do not offer college credit.  MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) have tapped into the deep desire for education without the inefficiencies of going to a building somewhere to learn.  Coursera, a large provider of MOOCs, had educated over 5 million students by 2013.  Wrapped into the MOOCs providers are all of the “brand name” university partners you could ever dream of:  Stanford, MIT, Harvard, etc.  Students have access, the courses are free, the courses are streamable, and the courses are shareable.  If the course is poor, the student simply drops and chooses something else.  If the course fills a need for the student, they can dive in and “binge-watch” an entire semester in a weekend!

Students who’ve grown up in the world of non-traditional education (homeschool), with instant access to free content, and a solid awareness of how to access ANYTHING they want to learn, technology is part of their world in a way that hadn’t existed before Placeholder Imagethis millennium.  Is it so impossible to accept that this generation of teens has a different understanding of what education means?  When my children & teens want to know something, they usually Google it.  (YES!  I still taught them how to use an encyclopedia.)  When they’re stuck on an algebra problem, it’s Khan Academy that patiently explains and demonstrates with perfect clarity who to solve the equation.  It’s Professor Martyn Poliakoff at The University of Nottingham who taught my teens about elements of the Periodic Table.  Frankly, our students can access experts in every field through their computer, something unimaginable even 20 years ago.

It’s no surprise that non-college-based learning has developed at an astounding rate.  It’s also no surprise, that there are wrinkles in the cloth.  While a few bad apples spoil the bunch, a uniquely new trend is the “coding boot camp.”  These programs are not affiliated with colleges, eliminate liberal arts and other “college” courses, and get right to the training.  In short, it’s a fast program meant to train coders and get them working asap.  Coding boot camps are almost never longer than 6 months, and graduates of good programs find (high paying) jobs quickly.  It’s hard to argue “go to college, get a good job” confused.jpgwhen colleges graduates are leaving college after 4-6 years with $35,000-$200,000 in student loans and a staggering unemployment rate.  Less than 20% will graduate in 4 years, and about 50% will leave with the debt but not a degree.  The average cost of a coding boot camp lasts about 4 months, costs about $15,000 and graduates can expect to walk into jobs paying around $80,000.  To recap, by the time my high school senior leaves for college in the fall, his classmate may have already finished boot camp and moved to Silicon Valley.

“Go to college so you’ll get a good job.”

Did I mention things are changing at lightning speed?  In an article by CNN Money earlier this week, a new “university” that isn’t really a university at all, just entered the playing field and may be a game-changer.  MissionU has merged the concept of coding boot camp (fast-relevant teaching) with significant industry input  (Spotify, Uber, Caper, Lyft, Facebook, Chegg founders built the curriculum) and the debt-free mentality into a new program that launches later this year.  MissionU is a “learn now, pay later” concept that takes a percentage of your salary once you graduate, but only if you earn more than $50,000 per year.  Students who graduate but do not meet that threshold will never have to pay anything.  The concept, in my humble opinion, is brilliant, because it forces educators to put their money where their mouth is.  This is a significant shift towards a model of shared responsibility.  The school is sharing the responsibility of the student, in essence, they promise to deliver a product “or your money back.”

The traditional college experience is filled with snake pits and makes little to no effort to help students and parents navigate the system.  In fact, colleges offer dozens of majors that lead to high debt and unemployment- it’s on you not to choose one.   I’ll stop short of speaking too harshly because students and parents should take more responsibility before dropping a quarter of a million dollars on their education, but I’ll just finish by saying that colleges are not financially motivated to help your student avoid those mistakes, and it is very hard to get good advice that holds your teen’s best interests at heart.

In closing, the purpose of today’s post is to warn parents in my generation, that what we “know” and “trust” to be true about the “best” and “most direct” path to a rewarding career looks different than when we were pondering our own path.  Our trust and confidence are based on a foundation that is shaky and being redesigned before our eyes.  To say that the education industry has been disrupted is an understatement- it’s completely being revolutionized.  In fact, I can’t even begin to imagine where we’ll be in 6 years when my youngest sets out on this journey for himself.  I’d like to leave you with 3 tips to help you navigate this process:

  1. Work backward.  Start with a target career, and then build a plan to achieve the skills and credentials to practice that career.  The most common mistake is choosing a college before a career plan is devised.  Until you know the exact pathway required (including licenses, certifications, degrees, etc.) to practice the career, you may be wasting valuable time and money.
  2. Constant retraining is expected.  Years ago, one trained for a career and their value as an employee came from their years of experience.  In today’s market, constant retraining is expected.  As such, it doesn’t make sense to invest “everything” in an undergraduate degree that serves to “check the box” while more education, certifications, and credentials will all be expected to remain current and competitive.
  3. Be open minded.  As we’ve seen in the past 17 years, the educational landscape has changed significantly, and the only thing we can be sure of is that more change is coming!

students

Posted in Breaking News, Dual Enrollment, Free Tuition, Science, Self-Paced Learning, Straighterline

*FREE Straighterline Labs, AP, and $3/credit classes through 6/3/17*

If you currently have an active Straighterline account – I want to share an unexpectedly great deal I just discovered today!

As you may know, there is a current Straighterline code through June 3rd for $50 off (enter code Homeschool50 at checkout.)  I used it for #2 son, but not #3, because #3 won’t have time to complete another class before summer break and I hate wasting time just as much as wasting money.

On a whim, I called Straighterline and asked what would happen to a class that I purchased now but we didn’t get to use.  They told me it would sit in our account FOREVER.  I wasn’t sure she understood my question, so I clearly explained that we were closing our account for summer vacation.  She assured me that purchased courses are in our a=jumpccount forever, will never expire, and will never disappear when we close our account.  So, in the fall, if I reactivate his account, it would be ready and be waiting for him to pick up where he left off!

What that means:  Active members (those currently paying the $99/month fee) should purchase one of the following courses using the HOMESCHOOL50 code before June 3rd or before your account membership expires- whichever happens first.   This short list contains the least expensive SL courses, that when the code is applied, brings the cost down to $0 – $9 each!!  That price is not per credit, it’s for the ENTIRE course PLUS the required e-book/textbook. The code can only be used one time per account.


Free Straighterline Labs

The student must purchase the lab kit on their own!

  • Anatomy & Physiology I Lab (1 credit) $0
  • Anatomy & Physiology II Lab (1 credit) $0
  • General Chemistry Lab (1 credit) $0
  • General Physics Lab (1 credit) $0
  • Biology Lab (1 credit) $0

AP Classes

Straigherline is an approved provider of 4 Advanced Placement classes.  Completion of one of these courses allows you to list the course on your homeschool transcript as Advanced Placement.  Taking an AP exam is optional and the responsibility of the student.

  • Macroeconomics (Counts as an official AP High School Course) (3 credits) $9
  • Microeconomics (Counts as an official AP High School Course)  (3 credits) $9
  • Intro. to Psychology (Counts as an official AP High School Course) (3 credits) $9

College Classes for $3 per Credit or Less!

  • Introduction to Statistics (3 credits) $0
  • Accounting I  (3 credits) $9
  • Accounting II (3 credits) $9
  • Business Ethics (3 credits) $9
  • Business Law (3 credits) $9
  • Business Statistics (3 credits) $9
  • Financial Accounting (3 credits) $9
  • Macroeconomics (3 credits) $9
  • Managerial Accounting (3 credits) $9
  • Microeconomics (3 credits) $9
  • Organizational Behavior (3 credits) $9
  • Personal Finance (3 credits) $9
  • Principles of Management (3 credits) $9
  • Anatomy & Physiology I (3 credits) $9
  • Anatomy & Physiology II (3 credits) $9
  • Medical Terminology (3 credits) $9
  • Microbiology Lab (1 credit) $0
  • Pharmacology I (3 credits) $9
  • Pharmacology II (3 credits) $9
  • American Government (3 credits) $9
  • Cultural Anthropology (3 credits) $9
  • Introduction to Criminal Justice (3 credits) $9
  • Introduction to Philosophy (3 credits) $9
  • Introduction to Religion (3 credits) $9
  • US History I (3 credits) $9
  • US History II (3 credits) $9
  • Western Civ I (3 credits) $9
  • Western Civ II (3 credits) $9
  • College Algebra (3 credits) $9
  • PreCalculus (3 credits) $9
  • General Chemistry (3 credits) $9
  • Environmental Science (3 credits) $9
  • Introduction to Nutrition (3 credits) $9
  • Intro. to Psychology  (3 credits) $9
  • Introduction to Sociology (3 credits) $9

If you want help picking a class my post  Straighterline Dissected: What to Take should help a great deal!

 

 

 

 

 

Note:  Non-subscribers or inactive members can do everything in this post, but you’ll have to pay to restart your subscription fee ($99) so this is NOT a good deal unless you were already planning to enroll your student at this time. In addition, you should know about the pros and cons of using SL in your homeschool.  See this post to get started:  Straighterline Basics and explore manyStraighterline posts by clicking the Straighterline tab.   

Posted in AP Advanced Placement, CLEP, Curriculum, Distance Learning, DSST, High School, Self-Paced Learning

The Great Courses

In 2008, I was struggling through a college Anatomy & Physiology course when I turned to youtube for some help.  I stumbled upon a video by Dr. Anthony A. Goodman – it blew me away.  Not only did he help me understand the information, but I dug until I found the rest of his lectures- they were that good.  As it turned out, they were eventually pulled from Youtube for copyright violation (oops) but I found the source: The Great Courses

Here’s the short of it:  The Great Courses are usually (not always) college-level learning taught by well respected and highly regarded professors.  These are not worth college credit when taken alone, rather they are used in your homeschool as a high school curriculum.  You could then marry the program with other test prep material if you desire to finish your teen’s program with AP, CLEP, or other exam credit.

Format:  Individual Great Courses are available on DVD, CD, Audio, or you can stream their whole Plus catalog on demand through their new Great Courses Plus program (monthly subscription).   While I am not a Plus subscriber, the Plus program looks amazing!  It will appeal greatly to those of you who use technology in your classroom or are already comfortable with products like Amazon Prime, Apple TV, mobile device based streaming, for entertainment.  This product fits into that category perfectly.   Plus program subscribers also have the option of purchasing hard copies at a deep discount (70% off).  

This promotional link gives you 1 month free:

The Great Courses Plus – One Month Free


CLEP & AP Friendly?  I asked our membership if they thought the Great Courses alone were “enough” to prepare their teen for an AP exam or CLEP exam, or if it served as the main curriculum and they followed up with CLEP/AP prep.  This is what they had to say:

Jude Barrier Dickson writes…” I don’t think any TGC {The Great Courses} is enough for an AP or CLEP exam. This is NOT to say they are not valuable, and be sure to know we use them extensively, but I find the best practice for exams are flash cards of info, presented as they would be in an AP or CLEP test.”

Wendy G.  writes… “Lots of CLEP and AP here and I also don’t think TGC would alone be enough, we just use them as supplemental.”

Selecting TGC for Your Homeschool

Since no single course stands alone as your curriculum and test prep, this small selection is representative of the types of courses I believe would enhance your homeschooling for college credit program.  I’ve deliberately selected courses from the Plus list since they are all also available for DVD purchase if you choose.  (Not all DVDs are available to stream)

SCIENCE: The Great Courses Plus

AP or CLEP Biology Program:  Biology The Science of Life, The Joy of Science, Understanding Genetics, and What Science Knows About Cancer.

AP or CLEP Psychology Program:  Mysteries of Human Behavior, Biology, and Human Behavior, Understanding the Brain, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

AP or CLEP Chemistry Program:  Chemistry our Universe, Chemistry 2nd Edition, Nature of Matter, and Organic Chemistry.

HISTORY: The Great Courses

AP or CLEP American History Program:  History of the United States 2nd Edition, Experiencing America, World War II, and Decisive Battles of History.

DSST Civil War Program: American Civil War, History of the United States 2nd Edition, and The Life of Abraham Lincoln

ECONOMICS: The Great Courses

AP or CLEP Economics Program:  An Economic History of the World, The Economics of Uncertainty, and New Global Economy.

OTHER: The Great Courses to Consider

DSST Cultural Anthropology Program:  Customs of the World and Cultures of the World.

AP or DSST Environmental Science (Human Cultural Geography): Understanding Cultural and Human Geography, The Science of Energy, and Fundamentals of Sustainable Living.

AP or DSST Statistics and Probability Program:  Big Data How Analytics are Changing the World, Probability Made Clear, Mathematics of Games and Puzzles, and Game Theory.

AP Music Theory Program:  Music and History, Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas, Mozart’s Chamber Music, Greatest Orchestral Works, and Great Solo Piano Works.

CLEP Humanities Program:  Understanding Opera, History of European Art, Masterpieces of the Ancient World, How to Look at and Understand Great Art, The World’s Greatest Churches, The Louvre, and Understand Great Music.


 

If your family has used The Great Courses in your homeschool, let me know your favorites, and I’ll add them to this page!  Contact Jennifer

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