There are so many ways to inject college credit into a high school. Today I’m going to feature Saylor Academy. What I like about Saylor Academy, is since they started offering free open courses, I knew that they’d eventually build a large enough catalog to be useful to hundreds of thousands of homeschooling high school families. When they started offering a college credit exam option, these guys quickly climbed to the top of my favorites list!
Saylor Academy describes themselves as
“We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization working since 2008 to offer free and open online courses to all who want to learn. We offer nearly 100 full-length courses at the college and professional levels, each of which is available right now — at your pace, on your schedule, and free of cost……Our learning materials are curated from a trove of free and open online resources by expert educators (learn more about our course design philosophy). We focus on designing a self-paced learning experience that comes as close as possible to what you would learn in the college classroom. Our certificates are free, our courses available to you any time, and the deadlines under your control. “
For what Saylor offers, they hit a home run. Seriously, as we get into this, you’ll see that they offer the LOWEST COST COLLEGE CREDIT on the planet. There is no lower cost option. (CLEP? Nope, Saylor costs a fraction of a CLEP exam)
I’m obsessed with college credit cost, so I promise you there isn’t a better deal to be found. -Jennifer
That said, Saylor’s option isn’t a perfect fit for all students. The big-picture is that the product is A+ and the price is right, however there are finer distinctions that will rule out this type of program for some parents and some homeschools. I prepared a thorough FAQ inside the 8-page curriculum that should help you assess some of those important points, but if you have questions about the utility of the credit, you can comment below, and I’ll do my best to help.
Is it rigorous? Frankly, it’s very hard curriculum. It’s a LOT of college-level reading. So, for that reason, I stop short of saying “hey, everyone should use this!” and I’ll tell you that NONE of my 4 sons have the academic chops to handle the plan I wrote. That being said, my kids are average, and this program is for above-average students. To start this in 9th grade, your 9th grader should be reading at the 12th grade level (give or take) and be exceptionally self-motivated. They should also be able to handle their computer work on a screen, be allowed to follow links (without wandering over to Facebook…..) and trusted to complete the assignments on the page. There is no 3rd party teacher, so if your teen doesn’t have self-discipline, this isn’t a good fit.
Who is this for?
If your state doesn’t offer free dual enrollment….. many don’t.
If you’d rather not use dual enrollment….. for a number of social reasons or potential academic consequences.
If earning credit by exam isn’t a great fit….you don’t live near a testing center or the testing fees are too high.
If you’d rather have your teen take their exams at home…..especially for teens who experience anxiety in an unfamiliar testing environment.
If your budget is getting in the way of college credit…..your teen can take the entire course for free and decide at the end whether or not to attempt the exam for $25.
If you move/travel a lot and don’t want to carry books…… Saylor uses online reading.
If you don’t want to buy books…..all reading is linked inside the assignment, there is nothing to purchase for the course, not even labs.
If you don’t know where to get curriculum…..finding college curriculum that is aligned with CLEP or AP exams is a difficult task. Most products are strictly test-prep. This is actual curriculum.
If your teen’s placement exams weren’t high enough to enroll…..dual enrollment sometimes asks exam scores reach a benchmark before being granted permission to enroll, but no placement exams are used for these courses.
There is no registration, no placement exam, no application, no age restriction. Click and learn.
Keeping in mind that Saylor Academy is a secular organization, Christian parents may want to substitute some courses that fit better with their worldview. A similar, and free, option is Easy-Peasy, the all in one online Christian curriculum that is completely free to use. (Note that Easy Peasy doesn’t have college credit options, but the parent can use their products as the foundation and follow up with AP or CLEP exam prep later).