Posted in CLEP, NCAA

Member Question: CLEP Registration before 10th grade

Lori writes:  “I was attempting to sign my son up for the CLEP test in American Government and the registration form on the CLEP site does not accept any student designation that is less than 10th grade. My son is in the middle of his 9th-grade year, but he would like to take the test and I feel that he is more than ready. I know that some other parents have been successful in arranging for CLEP test for their students who are even younger than my son (15), so I was wondering if anyone had any information on how to get around this stipulation on the CLEP form?”

That’s a great question, Lori!  At least 4 other parents have asked this exact question this year, and I don’t know why The College Board can’t simply add more “tick box” options for lower grades.  It seems like a simple solution, especially since one advantage of using CLEP in a homeschool is that those too young for dual enrollment have an opportunity to earn college credit when they’re ready- not at a specific grade.

It is my opinion that UNLESS your child is an NCAA athlete, to feel completely comfortable selecting the 10th-grade box.  The College Board continues to maintain that the tick-box is strictly demographic data for internal use and that colleges will never see that box.  For non-NCAA athletes, that’s an acceptable answer, because even in the worst case scenario that this is untrue, a parent can simply explain why they selected the 10th-grade box, and The College Board can verify that info.

Now, for those who are NCAA athletes, it’s a different story.  NCAA is exceptionally strict regarding age and grade.  They are exceptionally strict about the number and type of high school credits a student earns, and they are exceptionally strict about the records documenting these activities…. and that’s just for public school students.  The scrutiny of homeschooled students headed into NCAA is at least twice as difficult- maybe more.  In summary:  NCAA doesn’t play around.  If they think something is “off” about your teen’s records, your teen will be disqualified from playing college sports- game over.

NCAA Homeschool Eligibility Guide

So, since the stakes are so high for the students in the NCAA category, I would take the extreme opinion of telling NCAA families to wait until 10th grade before attempting a CLEP exam.  This protects your teen from the extremely unlikely event that your identification of their (higher) grade is disclosed somewhere somehow.

Until then, parents with teens younger than 10th grade should continue to contact The College Board and simply suggest that they add a box for those younger than 10th grade.  It’s an easy request, and easy fix, and it keeps everyone honest.

College-Level Examination Program (CLEP)

P.O. Box 6600
Princeton, NJ 08541-6600
Phone: 800-257-9558 or 212-237-1331
Fax: 610-628-3726
E-mail: (Professionals)  <– homeschool parents use that address
E-mail: (Students)Representatives are available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time.

Posted in Blue Collar, Career Planning, College Majors

Occupations: Using the Data

Follow your dream…use college to find yourself….you can decide after you graduate.  Those words of the 1950’s-80’s don’t work today when private college tips the scales at almost  $50,000 per year and roughly 1/2 of all college students EVER finish their degree.  Of those that do, we’re seeing it takes average students SIX years to complete a four-year degree.  The investment of time and money mean missteps can not only cost a lot up front but for some students who do make it out of college with a degree, the jobs on the other side may not be what they had in mind.

Last night I watched a documentary on Amazon Prime called Generation Jobless (2017).  It streams free, so if you have Prime, I highly suggest checking it out.  If you don’t, I think it can be rented for under two bucks.  The documentary reflects the over-educated and under-employed young people of Canada, but you’ll observe the same trends and statistics parallel nearly perfectly to the United States with one minor exception.  In Canada, they don’t track labor and market trends across occupations.  In other words, the college students and their parents are literally guessing what kinds of jobs and opportunities may exist when their teen graduates.  And as you’ll see in the story, many guess wrongly.

In the United States, we don’t have to guess. We have a robust Department of Labor that collects mountains of data on every career, every salary, every type of training and every type of credential.  Furthermore, they carefully track the growth or decline of occupations.  Is that important?  Let me put it this way, if your teen wanted to be a VCR repairman, you’d have no trouble advising them against it- that industry is over!  (A bad example since most of our kids have never even seen a VCR, but you get the idea).  Industries do die, and morph, and get disrupted and reinvent themselves.  This is one area where the government’s huge resources can work to our advantage.  They have the information for us, to inform us, we just have to take advantage of what they report.

You’ve seen me offer up the wisdom of Jeff Selingo who has made his career tracking college and higher education trends, helping teens navigate around the pitfalls that eat college graduates.  You’ve also seen me cheerlead for Mike Rowe who beats into our minds about America’s skills gap – and that it’s ok for smart people to pursue a trade!

So, what is the reason that guys like that beat their drums so loudly?  Because despite the statistics, despite the student loan debt crisis, despite skyrocketing college tuition, and despite the unemployment rates…. people are still telling their teens to follow their hearts.  Before you accuse me of being a dream killer, I don’t believe that it’s an “either-or” proposition.  I don’t believe that people have to be happy OR employed.  Fulfilled OR in a career with projected job growth.  Passionate OR in a job that earns a high salary. Educating their mind OR learning a trade.  Additionally, I don’t believe that there is such a thing as a “perfect” job.  Even if your teen finds their idea of a perfect job, they’ll have to keep learning and growing with their industry too – things always move forward.

I wrote last week about what I think it means to find the intersection, the balance, of using wisdom and following our passions.  If you missed it… I (don’t) Have a Dream (Job)

So, this post is where the rubber meets the road.  This post is about putting data to good use.  Trust me, there is no shortage of encouragement to follow your passion – but as a high school guidance counselor to the most important student on the planet (your children) you owe it to them to teach them how to look ahead.  Down the road beyond the here and now, and into the future.  If they aren’t up for it today, trust me, they will be up for it later.  The only question is if it’s before, or after, they’ve invested time and money into their credentials.
I’m slicing and dicing the data – you can do the same on The Department of Labor’s a-mazing website The United States Department of Education Occupational Outlook Handbook.  Their website is super-user-friendly, and these are just shots of ways that I found the data interesting.  I’m sure you’ll find many other ways to use their data!
I’ve copied and pasted so you can see the chart exactly as it appears on their website, however, doing so sacrafices my ability to re-size their columns or format their fonts.  If you’re viewing this on your phone, you won’t be able to view all of the columns. 


This is the ranked list of the BEST PAYING occupations
in industries that are growing MUCH FASTER than average job growth
in occupations that anticipate better than 50,000 job openings 
In my opinion, this is the creme de la creme.  Pay special attention to this set, because these are the college graduates who are walking across the stage and onto a job.  There are more jobs open and in demand than qualified candidates to fill them (as evidenced by the high median pay).  You can click on each occupation, when you land on the page, be sure to notice the additional tabs at the top of each occupation that allow you to explore deeply.
2016 MEDIAN PAY Help
Physical therapists Doctoral or professional degree None 50,000 or more Much faster than average $75,000 or more
Medical and health services managers Bachelor’s degree None 50,000 or more Much faster than average $75,000 or more
Health specialties teachers, postsecondary Doctoral or professional degree None 50,000 or more Much faster than average $75,000 or more
Software developers, applications Bachelor’s degree None 50,000 or more Much faster than average $75,000 or more
Nurse practitioners Master’s degree None 50,000 or more Much faster than average $75,000 or more
Financial managers Bachelor’s degree None 50,000 or more Much faster than average $75,000 or more



This is the ranked list of  industries that are growing FASTER than average 
in occupations that require an Associate Degree.
This is an exciting set because many of you reading this post already have students taking community college courses through dual enrollment.  Even if you don’t, these programs are abundant and offered at community colleges all over the country.  I want to draw your attention to the fact that some of these occupations will require state licensure, and that varies by state, so be sure you take the time to investigate the licensure process as you evaluate educational programs.  In addition, there are a number of for-profit career schools that offer degrees in some of these occupations.  You’ll want to use caution that they meet licensure and accreditation as well.  A good rule of thumb:  all community colleges in the United States are regionally accredited, so that’s a really great place to start.
2016 MEDIAN PAY Help
Medical and clinical laboratory technicians Associate’s degree None 10,000 to 49,999 Faster than average $35,000 to $54,999
Radiologic technologists Associate’s degree None 10,000 to 49,999 Faster than average $55,000 to $74,999
Web developers Associate’s degree None 10,000 to 49,999 Faster than average $55,000 to $74,999
Veterinary technologists and technicians Associate’s degree None 10,000 to 49,999 Much faster than average $25,000 to $34,999
Paralegals and legal assistants Associate’s degree None 10,000 to 49,999 Much faster than average $35,000 to $54,999
Physical therapist assistants Associate’s degree None 10,000 to 49,999 Much faster than average $55,000 to $74,999
Respiratory therapists Associate’s degree None 10,000 to 49,999 Much faster than average $55,000 to $74,999
Occupational therapy assistants Associate’s degree None 10,000 to 49,999 Much faster than average $55,000 to $74,999
Diagnostic medical sonographers Associate’s degree None 10,000 to 49,999 Much faster than average $55,000 to $74,999
Dental hygienists Associate’s degree None 10,000 to 49,999 Much faster than average $55,000 to $74,999


These occupations require a degree but are in decline.  That is to say, your teen may not find employment at all, even with a degree from a good school, good grades, and a good internship.  They are sorted by degree type.  It’s noteworthy that any occupation for which a Master’s or Doctorate degree is required, there are no declining industries.  *required means you need it to practice, not that you’ve added it to boost your resume.

2016 MEDIAN PAY Help

Bachelor’s Degrees

Radio and television announcers Bachelor’s degree None Declining Decline $25,000 to $34,999
Reporters and correspondents Bachelor’s degree None Declining Decline $35,000 to $54,999
Adult basic and secondary education and literacy teachers and instructors Bachelor’s degree None Declining Decline $35,000 to $54,999
Wholesale and retail buyers, except farm products Bachelor’s degree Moderate-term on-the-job training Declining Decline $35,000 to $54,999
Buyers and purchasing agents, farm products Bachelor’s degree Moderate-term on-the-job training Declining Decline $55,000 to $74,999
Labor relations specialists Bachelor’s degree None Declining Decline $55,000 to $74,999
Purchasing agents, except wholesale, retail, and farm products Bachelor’s degree Moderate-term on-the-job training Declining Decline $55,000 to $74,999
Insurance underwriters Bachelor’s degree Moderate-term on-the-job training Declining Decline $55,000 to $74,999
Computer programmers Bachelor’s degree None Declining Decline $75,000 or more
Chief executives Bachelor’s degree None Declining Decline $75,000 or more

Associate Degrees

Broadcast technicians Associate’s degree Short-term on-the-job training Declining Decline $35,000 to $54,999
Desktop publishers Associate’s degree Short-term on-the-job training Declining Decline $35,000 to $54,999
Human resources assistants, except payroll and timekeeping Associate’s degree None Declining Decline $35,000 to $54,999
Respiratory therapy technicians Associate’s degree None Declining Decline $35,000 to $54,999


This is the apprenticeship set.  The apprenticeship programs in this set are those that are growing as fast or faster than average.   It’s worth pointing out that all of these apprenticeships report minimum wages over $35,000 – but elevator repairmen rise to the top (haha, see what I did there?) at over $75,000 median salary!

Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters High school diploma or equivalent Apprenticeship 50,000 or more Much faster than average $35,000 to $54,999
Brickmasons and blockmasons High school diploma or equivalent Apprenticeship 5,000 to 9,999 Faster than average $35,000 to $54,999
Elevator installers and repairers High school diploma or equivalent Apprenticeship 1,000 to 4,999 Faster than average $75,000 or more
Glaziers High school diploma or equivalent Apprenticeship 5,000 to 9,999 Faster than average $35,000 to $54,999
Insulation workers, mechanical High school diploma or equivalent Apprenticeship 1,000 to 4,999 Faster than average $35,000 to $54,999
Millwrights High school diploma or equivalent Apprenticeship 1,000 to 4,999 Faster than average $35,000 to $54,999
Reinforcing iron and rebar workers High school diploma or equivalent Apprenticeship 1,000 to 4,999 Faster than average $35,000 to $54,999
Stonemasons High school diploma or equivalent Apprenticeship 1,000 to 4,999 Faster than average $35,000 to $54,999
Structural iron and steel workers High school diploma or equivalent Apprenticeship 5,000 to 9,999 Faster than average $35,000 to $54,999
Terrazzo workers and finishers High school diploma or equivalent Apprenticeship 0 to 999 Faster than average $35,000 to $54,999


This set represents the highest educational requirement (doctorate or master’s degree) for entry-level, crossed against the poorest future predictions of employment rate.  These jobs all pay well, and some industries are beginning to grow, but in this niche, there are fewer than 1,000 open jobs predicted across the entire country.  This could mean moving across just to find an open position. Sorted by degree type.

2016 MEDIAN PAY Help

Doctorate Degree

Administrative law judges, adjudicators, and hearing officers Doctoral or professional degree Short-term on-the-job training 0 to 999 Slower than average $75,000 or more
Agricultural sciences teachers, postsecondary Doctoral or professional degree None 0 to 999 As fast as average $75,000 or more
Forestry and conservation science teachers, postsecondary Doctoral or professional degree None 0 to 999 As fast as average $75,000 or more
Geography teachers, postsecondary Doctoral or professional degree None 0 to 999 As fast as average $75,000 or more
Judicial law clerks Doctoral or professional degree None 0 to 999 As fast as average $35,000 to $54,999
Library science teachers, postsecondary Doctoral or professional degree None 0 to 999 As fast as average $55,000 to $74,999

Master’s Degree

Sociologists Master’s degree None 0 to 999 Little or no change $75,000 or more
Survey researchers Master’s degree None 0 to 999 Little or no change $35,000 to $54,999
Anthropologists and archeologists Master’s degree None 0 to 999 Slower than average $55,000 to $74,999
Political scientists Master’s degree None 0 to 999 Slower than average $75,000 or more
Epidemiologists Master’s degree None 0 to 999 As fast as average $55,000 to $74,999
Farm and home management advisors Master’s degree None 0 to 999 As fast as average $35,000 to $54,999
Historians Master’s degree None 0 to 999 As fast as average $55,000 to $74,999
Home economics teachers, postsecondary Master’s degree None 0 to 999 As fast as average $55,000 to $74,999
Industrial-organizational psychologists Master’s degree Internship/residency 0 to 999 As fast as average $75,000 or more


You decide!  Do you have a set you’d like me to compile using the data in a different way?  Leave a comment below and I’ll add your request to the page.

Posted in ACE, Curriculum, High School

Elective: First Aid & Safety

11/29/2017 NOTE:  *The Black Friday sale has ended, the prices below won’t be accurate*

With the buzz around the Udemy Black Friday deal, I have spent more time on their site than usual.  I have our core courses worked out for this year, so I’ve been poking around looking for electives.  Whenever I do something that takes me a bit of time, like pulling together this list, I love to share it here with you too.

This elective course is a ROBUST high school course with certificates, licenses, and college credit integrated!  I have 2 sons that will work on this together starting in January and running until the end of the school year so there will be some shared costs.

There is a lot packed into this semester, and even though the Udemy courses were on sale, the course as outlined will cost a fair bit of money due to the added training and licenses I’ve planned in- by no means do you have to go as elaborate as I did here.

I’ll label it as First Aid and Safety on their transcript.  When I do this, I like to loosely follow the Carnegie model (120 hours = 1 credit).  When you calculate hours, be sure to factor in all the time they spend, not just the video length.  They’ll invest time in taking notes, reading, writing, reviewing, studying, taking quizzes, etc.  All of that can add a lot of time.  So, when you see a video course that is “2 hours of video” you can predict that to take anywhere from 2-4 hours in real time.  If there is reading, that will be in addition to the video viewing, again, adding a lot more time.  It’s not that hard to accumulate 120 hours!

In addition, I’m adding in an ACE-evaluated course through Straighterline that will be worth 3 college credits.  Straighterline requires external verification of a Red Cross certification course as part of their course, so that will include additional cost and hours. The CPR and lifeguarding hours all happen on weekends, so even though they’ll have a lot of material, it shouldn’t be too difficult to work in.

My plan is for this course to exceed 100 hours and be recorded as 1 full high school credit.  If we don’t exceed 60 hours, I’ll record it as 1/2 credit.  Also, since your goals and interests will vary, feel free to chop this up in any way that makes sense for you!

Upon Completion

  • 8 Certificates of Completion (Udemy)
  • 1 ServSafe Food Handler Certification (National Restaurant Association)
  • 1 Red Cross CPR Certification
  • 1 Life Guard Certification
  • 1 Boating License
  • 3 College Credits (Straighterline ACE)
  • 1 High School Credit


UNIT 1:  Human First Aid

6-8 hours

First Aid: Learn How to Save a Life  This course is 2 hours of video, and it has over 1,200 students that have awarded it a “5-star” rating so this feels like a solid choice. It covers the things you’d expect:

  • Perform CPR.
  • Save people from chocking.
  • Use of AED- Automated External Defibrillator (found in public places).
  • How and when to apply different bandages tourniquets and dressings.
  • Treat bleeding and trauma injuries.
  • Avoid and treat climate injuries (dehydration, hyperthermia, and hypothermia).
  • You”ll learn how to act about different injuries like head injuries, burns, fractures, sprains, electric shock and more.
  • How to treat adults, children, and babies.
  • How to make your own first aid kit.

Complete Children’s First Aid Guide  This course is 1 1/2 hours of video and deals with first aid for children.  Also rated really high, this will be our second module.

UNIT 2:  Advanced First Aid

30-45 hours

How to Save a Life – Advanced  This course (also Udemy) is free and is an hour of video.  It asks the user to have completed a basic first aid course first and covers more content than basic first aid.  It dives into things like snake bites, stopping a bleed, and other more significant situations.

Straighterline First Aid Course    For the January semester, my teens are already enrolled in a Straighterline course so we won’t have the added cost of their subscription, only the cost of the course ($49).  This course is worth 3 ACE college credits and requires the completion of a CPR, which they will do locally.

American Red Cross CPR Course We will do this locally in a face to face setting.  Hands-on practice with an instructor is essential for initial training.  (review and renewal can be done online)

UNIT 2: Animal First Aid

6-8 hours

Secrets of Natural Pet First Aid for your Dog Cat & animals  I have to confess, I feel pretty smart for adding this in.  My sons will love this.  This course is 2 hours of video and covers limping, sunburn, burns, diarrhea, infections, cuts, broken bones, and trauma.  It’s also rated very well and is taught by a vet!

Dog CPR, First Aid + Safety for pet pros + dedicated owners Also rated excellent by 500+ users, I’m looking forward to this.  I actually did CPR on a squirrel (true!) about 7 years ago after it fell from a tree in a storm.  This course has a lot of supplemental material to go with the 2 hours of video.

UNIT 3:  Fire Safety

2-4 hours

Fire Safety: Become A Fire Safety Expert  Become an expert in Fire Safety, Fire Hazards Control, Fire Evacuation Plans, and Fire Risk Assessment.  I think I will bulk this up to include things like formally having my sons assess our home’s safety, fire extinguishers, alarm placement, etc.  I see this as having some lab areas we can develop.

UNIT 4:  Food Safety & Sanitation

4-8 hours

While Udemy has a course for this, in my opinion, a better option is to use the National Restaurant Association’s ServSafe course.  As chefs, that’s the certification both my husband and I have.  It’s inexpensive and available online.  (about $15)  Best of all, if your teen intends to work in a foodservice establishment, having their ServSafe Food Handler certificate will help them tremendously!  Certification is valid for up to 5 years.

UNIT 5:  Wilderness Survival

10-14 hours

This might be a little bit too much, but this is something my kids are very interested in, so I’m choosing 3 courses here where 1-2 might be enough.

Wilderness Survival and Awareness – Be ready to survive

Essential guide to survival in the wilderness with nothing

Wilderness Survival: Survival, Prepping and Preparedness

UNIT 6:  Water Safety & Lifeguardinglifeguard

20-25 hours

Lifeguard Certification    A personal preference, but my older sons took this training as teens, and even if you never work as a lifeguard, this is valuable for anyone who is ever around water.  In order to take this class, you have to pass a swimming test.

UNIT 7:  Boating Safety

10-12 hours

Boat Safety Course This is more of a personal preference for our family since we’ll be spending some time in small boats this summer, but the link offers a lot of course options, including free resource information as well as ways to secure a boating license in your state.


Cost Breakdown

  • UDEMY courses purchased DURING Black Friday sale  $80
  • UDEMY courses if purchased AFTER Black Friday sale $995
  • Straighterline First Aid Course $49
  • Straighterline Membership $99*
  • ServSafe Course and Certification $15
  • American Red Cross CPR Certification (in-person class)  $84
  • Lifeguard training course and certification (in-person class) $240
  • Boating course and license $25

Tip:  I have 2 sons that will share the UDEMY courses, so the $80 fee will technically be split between 2 students.  The Straighterline course and all other certifications must be done “per-person” however, you can have your teens share a textbook if they take it together!





*Note:  Since you have to purchase a minimum of 1 month, my suggestion is to squeeze as much out of that month as you can.  It doesn’t pay to take only 1 course.  A teen should easily be able to complete 2 courses in a month’s time.  If you want more on how to pick a class, I wrote this post to help you. 


Posted in Breaking News, Curriculum

Udemy *Black Friday* Sale

11/29/2017  NOTE:  this sale has ended.  Post remains for reference only.

A Black Friday sale on *CLASSES* of all things?  That’s my kind of sale.  Once a year, Udemy has a $10 sale, and that is happening now (Nov 16 – 28) for their Black Friday promotion.   ALL COURSES are a flat rate $10. (normal costs range from $20-$200 each).

What you need to know:

  • Udemy courses are not for college credit. (How to use MOOCs for College Credit)
  • Udemy courses vary in length from 2 hours to 100 hours, so check that in advance!
  • Udemy courses are self-paced and do not carry a grade.
  • You can preview the syllabus and content at every link.
  • Udemy courses purchased during this sale have lifetime access. Start whenever.

Udemy sent me an email with the “Top 5 most popular courses in each category.”  They offer thousands of courses, but this list is a great place to start because these courses will have excellent ratings and user feedback.  I’ve narrowed the category down to academic subjects, but they have personal development courses too!

I’ve added the regular price of each course from the list.  As you can see, some of these are good deals, and some are great deals.

Remember, EVERY COURSE they offer is part of the $10 sale- not just this list! 


Writing Short Stories: The Essential Guide (regular price: $95)

Write a Book: Basic Creative Writing Skills for Beginners (regular price $200)

How to Write Better Essays: Improve Your Grades Today! (regular price $80)

How to Write an Effective Research Paper (regular price $70)

Composition: Quality Paragraph and Essay Writing (regular price $30)


Music Theory Comprehensive Complete! (Levels 1, 2, & 3) (regular price $60)

Music Theory Comprehensive Combined: Part 4, 5, & 6 (regular price $100)

Music Theory Comprehensive Combined: Part 7, 8, & 9  (regular price $100)

Elite Singing Techniques – Phase I (regular price $100)

Complete Guitar System – Beginner to Advanced (regular price $145)


Become an Algebra Master (regular price $100)

Algebra 1, 2, & 3 – Intermediate & College Level Course (regular price $200)

Become a Calculus Master (regular price $200)

Learn Trigonometry and Calculus Step By Step – Guideline (regular price $200)

Workshop in Probability and Statistics (regular price $40)


Complete Python Bootcamp: Go from zero to hero in Python (regular price $195)

The Web Developer Bootcamp (regular price $200)

Complete Java Masterclass (regular price $195)

Learn to Code by Making Games – Complete C# Unity Developer (regular price $150)

iOS 11 & Swift 4 – The Complete iOS App Development Bootcamp (regular price $200)


The Collection of 3D Digital Content for CHEMISTRY PART-1 (regular price $200)

The Collection of 3D Digital Content for CHEMISTRY PART-2 (regular price $200)

The Collection of 3D Digital Content for CHEMISTRY PART-3 (regular price $200)

The Collection of 3D Digital Content for PHYSICS PART – 1 (regular price $200)

The Collection of 3D Digital Content for PHYSICS PART – 2 (regular price $200)


The Collection of 3D Digital Content for BIOLOGY PART -1 (regular price $200)

The Collection of 3D Digital Content for BIOLOGY PART – 2 (regular price $200)

The Collection of 3D Digital Content for BIOLOGY PART – 3 (regular price $200)

The Collection of 3D Digital Content for BIOLOGY PART – 4 (regular price $200)

AP Environmental Science



Learn Social Psychology (regular price $95)

U.S. History 201 (regular price $35)

History of the Middle East – 600 A.D. to Today (regular price $25)

United States History – Prehistory to Reconstruction (regular price $20)

Art History Renaissance to 20th Century (regular price $25)


Chinese Made Easy L2: Understand 79% of Chinese in 10 hours (regular price $50)

Learn Portuguese in LESS than 30 Days (regular price $30)

Learn Korean! Start Speaking Korean Now! (regular price $75)

Learn Hungarian Tutorial for Beginners (regular price $20)

Learn to Read Biblical Hebrew (regular price $75)

Learn to Speak: Conversational French – Full Course (regular price $95)



Posted in Career Planning

I (don’t) Have a Dream (Job)

passion1I don’t remember being commanded in high school (late 1980’s)to find my “dream job.”  I remember having a few subjects I really liked: Home Economics (cooking) and Biology (genetics).  However, after many years of taking aptitude and ability test, my guidance counselors pushed me into cooking over biology (they were right).  Still, no one asked me if cooking was my “dream.”  In fact, if you ask me today about my dream or passion, my career is only a small piece of the picture.  In fact, as a middle-aged adult, my career aspirations are merely tools to support and facilitate my real dreams.

Today, our young teens are blasted with what I call “dream propaganda” from a very young age.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be a dream crusher.  If your teen has a dream job goal, research suggests they’ll have high job satisfaction if they land their dream job.

Researchers have found that workers who feel a higher calling to their jobs are among the most content. Take zookeepers, for example. Though more than eight in 10 zookeepers have college degrees, their average annual income is less than $25,000. The typical job description involves scrubbing enclosures, scooping waste and spending time in the elements. There’s little room for advancement and zookeepers tend not to be held in high regard, says Stuart Bunderson, Ph.D., a professor of organizational behavior at the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis (Administrative Science Quarterly, 2009).


Modern dream propaganda assumes:

  1. There is such a thing as a dream job.
  2. You must identify it in the first 25% of your life if you are to achieve it on time.
  3. You must begin dedicated and formal pursuit of it immediately.
  4. It will be built on a 4-year degree.
  5. It will provide a good living for you and your family.
  6. You will live happily ever after.  The end.

What if your teen ended up working at an average company, earning an average living, with average job satisfaction?  What if your daughter ended up as a homeschooling mother instead of an employee?  <gasp>  Would that be terrible?  Are our children homeschooling failures if they aren’t chasing a dream job?

This post is meant to prompt you to consider your role as your teen’s guidance counselor.  We, as homeschooling parents, have the luxury of not only parenting our teens through this very important transitionary time in life, but we get to help them navigate the educational landscape too.

It’s easy to get lost in the propaganda of our time, and if you don’t think you’re influenced by it, consider the other extreme:  coal miners of the 1700’s.  Clearly, no one believes that this type of work was anyone’s dream job!  It was dangerous, dirty, hot, rough, and physically hard!  Still, I don’t believe that the lives of the men in this photo were empty.  I don’t minersbelieve that they never felt the satisfaction of a job well done, or didn’t appreciate the opportunity to provide for their families. I don’t believe that they didn’t have fun with their co-workers, telling jokes and stories.  What did career guidance look like in the 1700’s? Clearly, in 2017, we want more for our teens than working in a dangerous coal mine.  But, are we taking it to the opposite extreme by insisting that they chase a dream at the expense of all else?  At the expense of common sense?  Are we asking them to go deeply into debt to finance the pursuit of a dream?  (Even though we know 50% of those who start college won’t finish).

Modern dream propaganda promotes to our teens a very scary notion:  that a dream is out there, and it’s up to them to “find” it immediately.  If they don’t, then there is something wrong with them!  If we take a moment to think about the modern “dream job” message before we support it, the message is very damaging.  The message tells our children that “everyone else” has this great personal insight revealed to them by the time they are in high school, and that if you’re late gaining this insight, you’re doomed to a life of poverty and unfulfilling work!  Wow.  Talk about pressure.

I’ve been guilty of applying that pressure to my teens, most notably with my oldest (the guinea pig) when we started career exploration in middle school.  I handed my son a book called College Majors, which explored majors in Anthropology, Biotechnology, Dermatology, Human Resources, etc.  Who wants to guess how many 8th graders know passion3what any of those words mean?  It’s about zero.  Yet, onward.

In an effort to make an efficient and resourceful high school plan (one that injects college credit) it’s easy to become too narrow too soon.  For those rare teens with an early and clear passion, having a resourceful parent will make all the difference in the world.  But for teens developing at a normal rate of emotional and cognitive (mind) development, it would be unusual to have such a strong sense of identity and purpose at an early age – especially at the exclusion of everything else.

When I look back on a conversation I had with my Home Economics teacher, a special mentor to me, I remember telling her my dream job was to work on a cruise ship.  Later, after working as a chef for 5 minutes, I knew that would be a terrible job for me!  The job was in conflict with my dream– my imagination of what that job might be life.

It’s easy to have a dream job when its crafted in our imagination.

As an adult, we have a better understanding of the world than our teens.  When we consider a decision, we base it on our life’s experiences and our understanding of the world.  Our teens aren’t broken, they just don’t have the life experience we do!  A teen can’t know what it really means to work on a cruise ship from inside the profession (sleeping in a public bunk, working 12 hours on/off, leaving family and friends for buffetmonths at a time, being one of a thousand insignificant employees, working in very hot- or very cold kitchens, having large stock pots of boiling soup slide off the stove during a storm, etc.) but a teen can imagine it from books, tv, or being a guest (beautiful and elaborate food buffets decorated with fruit and vegetable platters displayed perfectly, ice carvings, and the most elegant and delicious food imaginable).  See the gap?  When we look at dream jobs, they are just that:  dreams.  We are looking from the outside, and the reality can be very different from what we imagine.

If you ask adults about their dream job, you’ll notice something very interesting.  You’ll get answers like this:

“having autonomy over my schedule.”

“helping people accomplish their goals.”

“watching the joy in my patient’s eyes.”

“having enough time off to take vacations with my family.”

What did you notice?  These dreams are all based on a quality of life and contribution to society!  They aren’t about tasks or being an employee.  If I look at those answers through the lens of my trade (culinary arts), I could identify specific jobs where someone with my training could pursue their dream.  Want autonomy?  Write cookbooks.  Helping people accomplish their goal?  Teach culinary arts.  Watch joy in your patient’s eyes? Meals on Wheels.  Having time off?  Corporate dining.   As you can see, nearly any occupation can be made into a dream job, but it’s unlikely that your teen will have the insight and life experience to pull that together as a very young person.

You are your teen’s best guidance counselor!

As your teen’s guidance counselor, you may want to consider helping them see the converse side of modern propaganda:

  • There may not be such a thing as a dream job. But we all have dreams.
  • You may not be able to understand your dreams and gifts until you’ve had more life experiences.
  • Dreams and passions can be practiced through volunteer work, ministries, activities, clubs, sports, hobbies, and other informal activities right now!  They can also exist alongside our careers- with our families, not just at work.
  • One’s dreams and passions will likely change, evolve, and morph over time as we experience various stages of life (marriage, parenthood, retirement) and the unexpected events of adulthood (death of a loved one, a spouse’s deployment)
  • Pursuing a 4-year degree may be separate and apart from a dream job!
  • Advising your teen to secure a good living means your grandchildren will have food on the table and a roof over their head…it may not include a fancy sports car.
  • Life is short, live it well.







Posted in CLEP, Credit by Exam, High School, Transcripts

CLEP Science: 3, 4, 6, or 8 credits?

If your teen is studying Biology, Chemistry, or Physics in high school you may be considering a CLEP science exam at the end of the school year.  CLEP science exams are all listed as “6 credit” exams on the College Board website, but these exams are a little unusual.

College science courses are typically 3 credits when taken without a lab, but when a lab is taken, they are worth 4.  As such, if you’re looking up a college’s CLEP policy, you can “guesstimate” how they will apply your teen’s science exam based on the award given.

Here is an example of how the CLEP Biology Exam may appear on a college transcript.

If your college awards 3 credits- it’s only worth credit for Biology 1.
If your college awards 4 credits- it’s worth credit for Biology 1 with lab.
If your college awards 6 credits- it’s worth credit for Biology 1 & 2 without a lab.
If your college awards 8 credits- it’s worth credit for Biology 1 & 2 with lab.

Let’s go Deeper

What about the High School Transcript?

Generally speaking, when a teen takes a CLEP exam, the parent’s first question is whether or not they have to do something different on the high school transcript.

The short answer is “no” because a parent only awards high school credit, it’s a college that decides if and how much college credit is awarded.  Still, there is the question of awarding more credit, or removing a course, as a result of a pass/failed CLEP.

If you use the traditional model used by public and private high schools when students take Advanced Placement tests (AP and CLEP are part of the same company) you’ll notice that the student takes an AP course all year.  Later, at the end of the school year, students may choose to attempt an AP exam for potential college credit.  Whether or not a student takes the exam has no bearing on their AP grade, and neither does their score!  In fact, AP exam scores aren’t ready until the summer after the course was taken.

Whether or not your teen passes or fails the CLEP exam, you’ll want to be sure you give them high school credit.  Passing a CLEP exam is “frosting on the cake.”

Guidelines for High School Credit

1 semester of high school science = 1/2 high school credit

1 year (2 semesters) of high school science = 1 high school credit

1 semester of DIY college-level science = 1/2 high school credit

1 year (2 semesters) of DIY college-level science= 1 high school credit

1 semester of college science taken through a college= 1 high school credit

1 year (2 semesters) of college science taken through a college= 2 high school credits

Weighted Grades

There is a strong debate about whether or not to weight a grade or Grade Point Average (GPA) when a homeschool course preps for a CLEP exam.  The facts are that some public and private high schools do weight grades (5.0 quality points on a 4.0 scale) for College Prep, Advanced Placement, or accelerated courses – but a DIY college-level course is a grey area.

Not sure?  Ask yourself if the curriculum merits a higher quality point without CLEP.  If it doesn’t, then stick to a 4.0 scale.  If it does, then use a 5.0 with confidence! 

studentAs you start to look ahead to college applications, you can review the target college’s websites and see if they indicate wanting a weighted or unweighted transcript- some will have a preference.  Others state simply that all transcripts are recalculated onto a 4.0 scale.  You can do both if you’re undecided.


My advice is to follow the same approach for all 4 years of high school (weighted or unweighted) and if you decide to weight grades, be sure to write and include an explanation of your rationale.



You may also be interested in my other post  10 Ways to Take Science Labs at Home

You can look at the content of every exam at the College Board’s Official Website.

Posted in Dual Enrollment

College Writing: Boosting Word Count

If your teen is taking a college course that requires writing forum posts, essays, or research papers with specific word count (200 words, 500 words, 750 words, etc.)  I have a few tips that can help them meet their goal.

Note:  this is not a replacement for actually writing a paper!  There is no replacement for good content, but if your teen just finished a well-crafted paper and has fallen a few words short, these quick tips can help squeeze out an extra 25-30 words without generating new content or a lot of stress.

Get in the habit of…

  1. Taking out all contractions.  Every “won’t” and “haven’t” should be replaced with “will not” or “have not.”  If you’ve used 10 contractions, you can add 10 more words by replacing them!  (While many teachers won’t care, it is considered more appropriate in academic writing to avoid contractions anyway, so do this even if your word count is on point)
  2. Taking out numbers and replacing them with words.  This won’t work on dates or long numbers, but in cases where you’re using a simple 0-10 number (5 steps, 10 cases, 9 dogs) you should use words.  Notice in tip #1 above, I wrote the number “10” two times?  By replacing the number 10 with the word “ten” instead, I’ve added two more words to the word count.  (See? I did it with “two” also!)  Like the first tip, it is considered more appropriate to do this in academic writing, so while your teacher may not care, it’s still a good habit to get into.
  3. Add the phrase “according to ___(textbook/person)___” when making a statement of fact.  This introduction will lengthen a sentence.  Depending on the academic style requested by the teacher, you may or may not also add a citation at the end of a sentence – but using the above phrasing adds credibility as well as a few more words.
  4. Like tip #3, you can take apply this approach when stating your opinion.  “in my opinion” in front of any opinion statements not only adds three words, but it tells the teacher that you’re drawing an opinion.  Teachers like opinions, they demonstrate that a student is thinking about a problem.
  5. “In conclusion” is a great way to start the final paragraph.  It adds two words, and it helps the reader understand that the summary is coming.

If you’re scrambling….

  1. Every paper needs headers and footers.  If your paper is 3 or fewer pages long, this tip will add about a dozen words.  A header will have your name, the paper’s title, and date (or whatever your teacher asked for).  When you use a program like MS Word, you have the option of creating a header that will automatically appear on every page.  This is great when you’re writing a long paper, but if you’re trying to boost word count, you’ll want to avoid this feature.  Instead, type the header manually at the top of each page.  This keeps it in the foreground and will be included in the word count.  Automatically generated headers are in the background and not part of the word count.   The same is true for page number/footer.  Instead of letting the computer write “page 2” at the bottom using the automatic footer (background), writing it in manually adds word count (foreground).
  2. Add 2-3 more references.  Depending on the teacher’s grading software, the words that make up the references are usually counted by a computer.  The computer counter doesn’t always know the difference, which will allow the paper to pass through the automatic word count filter.  While some teachers will specify that word count excludes references, this isn’t always the case.  If your teacher is a stickler for details (and highly motivated), they’ll manually count the words in your references and subtract it from their computer’s word count.   I would suggest avoiding this tip if your teacher specifically tells you how many references to use, but if they don’t, then it’s reasonable to have 1-3 references per finished page length.  (2 page paper = 2-6 references)