Pro Tip: Sophia like a Boss

Did you know that if you don’t have a current subscription with Sophia you can still start working on the homework? Did you know you can work at your own pace while still only paying $99 for your class? In the HS4CC inactive account strategy, you’ll learn how to make the most of your enrollment period.

Special thanks to Jenny Bergren (HS4CC Moderator) for sharing with our community how her family plans to work through English 1 at their own pace and wait to enroll. Her strategy is brilliant, and I’m excited to share it with you!

There is wide consensus in the HS4CC community about subscription models- we hate them. A subscription model, like the one used by Sophia, charges you a $99 monthly fee. This is great for an adult who wants to hurry through a class and plows through 1-2 per month, but for a teen that is following a more traditional calendar or trying to fit these classes in with their dual enrollment, the cost can get out of control. I learned this early with my oldest son when we subscribed to Straighterline for a year. I paid over $1,000 for 12 college credits with that son. What was I thinking???!!

Subscription = Go Fast

The subscription model requires your teen to work as fast as they can or you’re “penalized” by having to pay for additional months. To think of this another way, since Sophia charges $99 per month, if you complete 1 course in 1 month, it only costs $99. If that same course takes you 3 months, you’ll pay $297! If you’re extra speedy, you might be able to complete a course each week – resulting in a an astonishingly low cost of only $20 per college course. Speed matters!

Learning Takes Time

Learning takes time, but under a subscription model learning takes a backseat to completion. How you reconcile that in your homeschool is up to you, but these strategies will help you get there with maximum efficiency and allow for learning.

Sophia currently offer 45 courses.

All 45 courses require about a dozen or so “Challenges” which are short and quick multiple choice questions that allow multiple attempts to get the answers correct. The display is a split screen- the questions on the left and the lesson on the right. These are NOT time-eaters. Challenges are very quick.

42 courses require 1 or more “Milestones” which are small tests. Your Milestone is a test written from the smaller questions you just answered in the Challenges. First, you can also take the “practice” version before the real version. Milestones are NOT time eaters, but you do want to answer carefully since there is no second attempt.

Slowing Customers Down

As you can see in the above examples, the “doing” for these classes amounts to nothing more than “clicking.” If you’re a fast reader or have preexisting knowledge, you won’t even spend much time reading- so we’ve absolutely observed motivated students who complete a course week or less.

Enter: homework

Nothing slows down a student’s progress (and runs out the clock) like homework. Personally, as a homeschool mom, I love this. But, the frustration for me is that I have to balance the clock against the budget. Obviously anytime you bring a human grader into the process, it can add many days to have your assignment graded, which really slows down your progress and in many cases bumps your course completion out a full month! Sophia calls homework “Touchstones” and will certainly add significant time to every class your teen takes.

Sophia started rolling homework / Touchstones into their program with English Composition, and then another, and another, and now we are seeing Touchstones in 18 of their courses. We don’t know if they intend to add Touchstones to all 45 courses, but for every course with a Touchstone, you’ll want to use the inactive-account-strategy outline below so you can save significant time.

Sophia Courses with Touchstones (Feb 2022)

  • U.S. History: Learn from the Past, Prepare for the Future
  • Taking Charge of Your Economic Future
  • Smarter Decisions Through Psychology
  • Preparing for the Future of Work
  • Introduction to Sociology: Embracing Diversity and Collaboration
  • Approaches to Studying Religions
  • College Readiness
  • Ancient Greek Philosophers
  • The Power of Persuasion
  • Public Speaking
  • Foundations of English Composition
  • English Composition I
  • English Composition II
  • Discover the Writer in You
  • Communication at Work
  • IT Career Exploration
  • Business Law
  • Principles of Management

HS4CC Inactive Account Strategy

  • Active account = paying $99/month
  • Inactive account = not paying anything
  1. To use this strategy, you must first create an account. There is no cost to do this. I recommend each person who will use Sophia have their own account since you can’t share courses.
  2. Sign in. (You do not need to have an active account to sign in)
  3. Select the course from the course list to view the course.
  4. Click the dark button “try this course.”

5. With an inactive account, you will be able to view Challenges but your progress is not saved. You will not be able to view Milestones. You can also see that this course has 2 Touchstones (homework).

6. Click on the first Touchstone to open it.

7. You may have a pdf file to download with instructions. It is a good idea to save or print this Touchstone assignment. Repeat for each Touchstone in the course.

8. Now that you have both Touchstone assignments for this course, your student can begin to LEARN the material on your own schedule without rushing (or paying!).

9. Start back at Unit 1 and begin to work your way through all of the written content at a pace that is comfortable to you. You can download the entire unit’s content by clicking on “pdf version” on the right side of the screen under “Unit Tutorials.” It isn’t necessary to do the Challenges since they won’t be saved, but it is an opportunity for extra learning before you start the class.

10. When you approach a Milestone you won’t have access, so just continue on.

11. When you approach a Touchstone, complete the assignment. Later when you enroll, it will be finished and ready to submit.

Work at Your Own Pace

Using the HS4CC “inactive account strategy” your teen can reasonably “stock up” on several courses before you activate your account. Having these assignments ready to go means you can have a Touchstone being graded in one course while your teen works through courses without Touchstones. You can take as many Sophia classes as you want, but they limit active enrollment to 2 at a time, so this strategy really gets a lot of bang for your buck! You know your teen best, so as their guidance counselor you’ll probably want to try this with 1 course before you jump in with many, but once you get the hang of it you’ll be managing your Sophia account like a boss!


Executive Director of Homeschooling for College Credit

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