Are you trying to decide between CLEP or dual enrollment? It’s a huge decision and highly stressful for most parents. It all comes down to 3 basic questions.
There are 1.5 million homeschoolers in this country, and there are about as many combinations and permutations of college credit variables – how can you ever decide? For me, I like to keep it simple and focus on the big issues. It’s REALLY easy to get bogged down in the details! I’ve talked to hundreds of parents hashing out the details of whether or not they should take a class or a CLEP. Listen, if you enjoy digging into the details, then there are certainly a lot of nuances! Frankly, that’s my jam, and I love geeking out over each and every aspect of college credit-earning. But, if the details and decision process is making you crazy and stressed out, and the fear of making the wrong decision stops you from making any decision, then we need to get you unstuck and earning college credit asap!
QUESTION 1) Does your family qualify for free or reduced tuition for dual enrollment at a college?
Yes. Then do dual enrollment. Generally, it is more likely to transfer (good), issues a letter grade (good), allows for slow and deep learning (good), they’ll meet with a variety of people (probably good), they’ll practice writing (good), etc. Keep in mind that no matter what state you live in, free dual enrollment ENDS when your teen graduates high school, so while you worry about the details, this train is leaving the station.
No. If not, then CLEP is the clear and easy winner. Even before the Modern States grant-funded waivers made CLEP exams free for anyone, making price a non-issue, parents have been lining up CLEP exams to match their homeschool curriculum for years. Besides a test prep guide, you don’t need anything special to take a CLEP exam.
Cost was always a factor when I sorted out college credit options for my family because we are 100% committed to cash-flowing college (I have 3 in college now) but if you have a nice college fund tucked away, then this might not be as important to you as it is to me.
QUESTION 2) Is your teen good at standardized tests?
Yes. Good, they’ll need a certain level of testing ability to pass any CLEP. All CLEP exams are standardized tests on a computer. Read the question, click a mouse, select the best answer. Some of the questions are tricky, and all of them will have more than one answer that seems like it might be right. so if this kind of situation is their strength, they’ll love CLEP.
No. CLEP is not for you. That’s ok, I have 2 kids that don’t take CLEPs but have accumulated a ton of college credit. I don’t care how good the curriculum or test prep material is, kids who won’t test well will probably struggle to pass a CLEP exam.
QUESTION 3) Is your teen on board?
Yes. If this is their first college credit experience, you should probably decide which format speaks to their strengths (test vs class) but know that CLEP credit is pass/fail, whereas dual enrollment courses generate official college grades. These grades stay with the student *forever* so pushing your teens into dual enrollment is a bad plan.
No. If your student isn’t motivated or on board, that doesn’t mean they can’t earn college credit, it just means you have to find opportunities that allow them to fail without repercussions that playout for the next 20 years. In this case, CLEP exam is the way to go. If your student takes a CLEP, their score is confidential. Passed scores are saved on a score report (transcript) that deletes all failed exams. If your student fails, no one knows but you. They can try multiple times, and if they eventually pass, their passing score is the only score that appears on their score report. It’s the perfect way to test the waters, especially if you’re not sure that your student can pass.
QUESTIONS 4, 5, 6, 7, 8…..
There are a lot of ways you can dissect this question, but if you’re allowing the details to stop your teen from jumping in, you’re missing an opportunity that’s in front of them.
Yes, it’s possible that of the 3,800 colleges available to you that your teen will choose one that doesn’t award college credit for the exam they took. So what? There is also a 50% chance that your student won’t graduate from that college. Your teen isn’t “out” anything by taking a CLEP exam. When your student takes a CLEP exam (currently $0) that credit can be held unused for 20 years.
Let me help you decide– you can’t make a wrong choice between CLEP or dual enrollment. Both provide an excellent opportunity to learn and earn college credit.
You might also like to read my other posts about CLEP or dual enrollment: