A partner college is a written agreement between a business and a college to make it easy for you to transfer your teen’s college credits. Partnerships differ by college or company, but here is an example of what a partnership looks like and how to use it.
Sophia was founded in 2012 and is a business (not a college) that has developed over 30 courses worth college credit. These courses have been evaluated by the American Council of Education (ACE) and a college that accepts ACE credits may accept Sophia courses. To add “certainty” to their business model, Sophia has partnered with about 65 colleges. This partnership spells out exactly which Sophia courses will transfer, the amount of college credit each course is worth, and the name of what the class you’ll get credit for when you transfer.
NOTE: you might wonder if having a course like this recorded on a college transcript will change the way future colleges view it if you can get a more selective college to accept it by getting it on a partner college’s transcript. That answer, unfortunately, is no. A partner college is the college you’ll use to get your degree, not serve as a middle-man. Read more about credit laundering here.
Using Sophia as an example, visit Sophia.org and click on “Transfer Credits” at the top. While there will be many college search tabs and links, the ONLY one you should use is “Sophia partner colleges.”
From there, you’ll see a clickable list of their partner colleges. This is the list you should work from. Consider these colleges as your “end point” for a degree- do not use these colleges as a “middle man” to hold credit, there is no advantage to doing that! Instead, any college on this list is worth consideration for using Sophia (or other provider) for transferable college credit.
PRO TIP: a partner college often partners with many ACE providers, so if you see a college on Sophia’s list, they will also possibly be partners with other companies like Studycom, Straighterline, LawShelf, etc.
For this example, I’m clicking on PAUL SMITH COLLEGE from the partnership list.
Once on the Paul Smith College page, pan down until you see the COURSES heading.
From here, you can look at their entire list of Sophia courses that are accepted for college credit at Paul Smith’s College! You can also see how many credits will be awarded for each course.
These screenshots show a few of the many courses they’ll accept. It is important to look carefully because often a course or two is not accepted- so check the list carefully.
Look at “College Readiness” and you’ll see that Paul Smith will transcribe that course on your Paul Smith transcript as “FYS 101 First Year Seminar” for 3 college credits.
Caution: Partnerships Change
As a caution, you should know that the world of higher education is always changing. Companies like Sophia are introducing new courses and removing courses every year. My advice is to use the partnership lists and course lists as a starting point if your student is in 11th grade or younger. For those with students in 12th grade, you are close enough to graduation that you can plan more aggressively. At the end of the day, the college, not the company, makes the final call. Partnerships are a great way to help take away some of the risk while your teen completes courses for pennies on the dollar.