Parent Q: Why Omit “CLEP” from the Transcript?

HS4CC Parent Olivia asks “Hi Jennifer, I can’t thank you enough for the information you provide to help other homeschoolers navigate the pre-college years! I was wondering why you encourage parents not to include the word “CLEP” on a high school transcript. I’ve read elsewhere suggestions on HOW to include CLEP, so I was curious why you recommend the opposite and I can’t seem to find a detailed reason on your website.”

Parents, especially homeschool parents, want their teen’s transcript to represent their teen’s nontraditional education in the best light!! I do too. But we have to look at how our enthusiasm could create issues or problems for our teens in unexpected ways.

As a general rule, using the brand name of any product isn’t appropriate on the high school transcript, except AP, which we’ll discuss in a moment. This is why you don’t list “Saxon Advanced Math” on the high school transcript – that’s a brand and a book title. The proper way to enter that credit is “Precalculus.”

College admissions personnel have no idea about homeschool curriculum brands, and they aren’t going to spend any time looking up names to decipher the scope and sequence. This logic also follows CLEP, but with CLEP there are deeper potential problems.

  1. Since public and private k12 schools do not list “CLEP” on a high school transcript, we have to ask what reaction/response we could anticipate by doing this – it may be positive, but it may also be negative.
  2. The admissions department doesn’t award college credit, so including “CLEP” on the high school transcript is not saving you a step.
  3. In my opinion, a parent should treat CLEP in the exact same way schools treat AP, which is to include the course/subject on the transcript – not the exam. When your teen takes an AP course, they get credit and a grade for the course. Whether or not they take (or pass, or fail) the AP exam isn’t on the high school transcript.
  4. The use of “AP” or “Advanced Placement” on any high school transcript is only allowed when you use an officially approved AP course. While there is not a similar warning on the College Board website for CLEP, they are also the author of that exam, so it’s questionable whether or not it’s technically acceptable.
  5. A college that does not accept CLEP may generalize their policy to mean that they also won’t recognize the high school credit you’re awarding. If they don’t count your teen’s credits that have the word “CLEP” attached to them, will your teen still meet admissions requirements?
  6. Perhaps the most significant reason to omit the word “CLEP” from the high school transcript is that the admissions committee does not evaluate potential college credit, the registrar does. You’re giving the wrong department permission to weigh in on something that they aren’t qualified to do. Don’t assume how this will play out.

The proper way to submit CLEP to a target college is to send an official score report (CLEP transcript from College Board) to the proper address indicated on the college’s website. Separately, submit your high school transcript along with the admissions paperwork to the proper address indicated on the college’s website (or through the Common Application portal if applicable). This assures everyone gets the right paperwork and all your teen’s credits (high school / college) are properly evaluated.

The Transcript

Your teen’s transcript should list the subject or course names. Include lab where applicable.

YES: Honors Biology w/ Lab

NO: CLEP Biology

If your teen takes CLEP exams in high school (which they SHOULD DO) then you can simply “upgrade” their high school course to an “honors” level. This boost demonstrates how they’ve studied harder content.

YES: Honors Biology

NO: CLEP Biology

What if your teen fails a CLEP? When you follow the guidance above, it doesn’t matter. You would still include the subject and award the credit! If you title the credit as “CLEP Biology” and your teen also failed the exam, you’re giving the college an opportunity to disallow the entire high school credit – all because of one test.

Course Description

Though most colleges do not ask for course descriptions, it is perfectly acceptable to include the word “CLEP” and other brands/titles in our course description. In this case, you can also include the titles of books or software used.

Honors Accounting – 1 credit
Honors Accounting is a two-semester sequence that prepares students for the College-Level Examination Program® (CLEP) in Financial Accounting. The course consists of learning experiences designed to enable students to set up accounts and prepare qualitative records, verify the accuracy of data by applying auditing principles, and prepare budgets and final reports. The entire accounting cycle is presented with application problems to simulate authentic business experiences. Current accounting software is integrated throughout the course.
Primary Textbook: Smith, A. (2022). Accounting Principles: A Business Perspective. Brock Publishing.

But We Listed CLEP on Ours….

Since none of us has sent in transcripts to 3,900 colleges, there is no way to formulate advice that applies to everyone! Certainly there are colleges that won’t care if you included “CLEP” and other that will. Unfortunately, when a student is denied admissions, we aren’t privy to all the reasons and considerations why, so this advice isn’t meant to help your teen obtain admissions, it’s meant to help remove potential snags that could prevent acceptance.

Author:

Executive Director of Homeschooling for College Credit