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Parent Question: SAT/ACT/CLT scores when you have college credit?

My teen will have 24 college credits from high school. Will she still have to submit her SAT/ACT/CLT admissions scores when she goes to college, or will the college credit cover her?

Great question! The short answer is “yes” she will still need to send scores if the college requires them for incoming freshman. Keep in mind many colleges went test-optional or even removed the admissions exam entirely, so it may be a moot point, but if the college requires them for all freshman the year she applies, then she will have to send hers.

Here’s why: college credit earned in high school does not change your application process. Your teen is still a first time incoming freshman. Only college earned AFTER high school has the power to turn her into a transfer student (noteworthy because transfer students often do not have to send in SAT/ACT/CLT scores).

It seems silly that someone clearly capable of college work would still need to send in scores, but colleges don’t see it that way. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of routine and policy, other times it’s part of how they rank candidates, and other times it gives them the same “measuring stick” to use for all applicants. I can recall a situation in North Carolina with a family that had planned so perfectly, that her daughter had an associate’s degree and an undergraduate college certificate. She had nearly 3 years of college under her belt and did so inside of a transfer program. Since she earned these credentials in high school, she was a freshman applicant, which meant she needed to send in her SAT scores. Her mom was frustrated because they were so busy with her college work that they hadn’t even thought about the SAT, so she didn’t have a score. She was accepted by all 3 North Carolina colleges, and all 3 asked for her SAT scores. I recall her arguing her case up several levels through the administration, and ultimately 2 of the colleges waived the requirement.

The point here is that all freshman applicant requirements remain for students, even when they earn college credit. You’ll want to plan for the exam or choose a college that doesn’t require them.


Executive Director of Homeschooling for College Credit

4 thoughts on “Parent Question: SAT/ACT/CLT scores when you have college credit?

  1. “Here’s why: college credit earned in high school does not change your application process. Your teen is still a first time incoming freshman.”

    This is not universally correct! There are many colleges that count the credits earned in high school so a student’s freshman status may be forfeited and scholarships may be affected.

    1. It’s true- this is a good thing, so it’s a reason to celebrate! Credit earned during high school is not counted on your FAFSA (your application for financial aid) so you retain your freshman application status. Once enrolled, the college will do mandatory reporting (IPEDS) which will also count you as a first-time, incoming freshman. Those two statements, however, are different from what you’re stating- about scholarships. As a first-time incoming freshman there is zero impact for scholarships that are “for” first-time incoming freshman. In fact we have families here that have used their freshman scholarships to cover 2 years of grad school! But what *could be a problem is if you’re applying for an independent scholarship from XYZ company or organization that sets up some kind of parameters on the number of credits earned – but that’s an exception and not the norm, so the math always supports getting the credit in high school so you don’t pay tuition later. 😉

    2. I have worked with several families over many years and unfortunately there are some colleges that do classify students based upon the number of credits they are transferring in with, regardless of whether the credits were achieved in high school or college. This classification can affect scholarships directly from the University. Fortunately these colleges are willing to work with families to help them navigate the path of college credit planning while the student is in high school.

      Here is wording from Bowling Green University, as just one example:

      “Classification of a student as a freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior is determined on the basis of credit hours earned. In an undergraduate degree program a student is classified according to hours earned as follows: freshman, 0-29 hours; sophomore, 30-59 hours; junior, 60-89 hours; senior, 90 or more hours.”

      I appreciate all you are doing to educate families and I am not trying to be contrary, but families need to know that it’s important to check with the student’s “destination college” to find out what their student classification policies are to make sure their student’s freshman status is not altered by accruing too many dual enrollment credits. 🙂

    3. You’re not being the contrary!! I value your question and am happy to help you understand the reason you’re getting these mixed up. It’s easy to do! The quote you pulled a good one, so let’s dig in!
      There are several times when a student’s status is “named” and knowing the different types / times (and by whom) is really important. Yes, it can be confusing, but it is VERY important!! There are nuances. For what it’s worth, college admissions people and college advisors get this mixed up all the time. Your college’s Registrar is the point person here- he/she is the one that can explain the differences if it’s still hard to understand. The Registrar is high rank in this discussion, but you can’t always get access to them. Still, once enrolled, a student with questions about the nuances of how all this works should only trust the Registrar.

      I think the key for you to help serve your clients is understanding the difference between the prospective student and matriculated students. A prospective student is either a transfer student or a freshman. In this case, the freshman’s name refers to how they apply.
      (1) Their application is ALWAYS as a freshman applicant when their only college credit comes from what they earned in high school. This is not case by case, this is for all students who will apply to a college that is regionally accredited or participates in FAFSA (practically all of them). Since you do this professionally, I would encourage you to dig into the IPEDS requirements that dictate reporting and classification, there are probably other things in there that will help you too.
      (2) Rank: this is what you’re quoting above. Colleges that call students by rank (freshman, sophomore, etc.) will establish how they rank, and it usually does follow the number of credits earned. It’s typical for each 30 credits to represent a rank. Earn 30 credits, boom, you’re a sophomore. Earn 30 more, boom, you’re a junior. Etc. In order to get that rank by a college, the student needs to be matriculated. For most colleges, that means paying money – not an application fee- but tuition/housing/fees/etc. Upon matriculation a student is ranked. This happens sometime in the first semester.
      Here’s an example: Sally has an associate degree earned in high school (60 credits) and applies to University of ABC. She applies as a FRESHMAN and receives the full FRESHMAN SCHOLARSHIP package. Since Salley is smart, she picked a university with an articulation agreement, so Sally is immediately accepted and matriculates. In the coming months, Sally’s transfer credits are brought in and her transcript / student record updated. Her new rank is “Junior” as she gets ready to register for future classes.

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