Posted in CLEP, DSST

English Composition Resource List

Narrative writing –
Informative writing –
Argumentative writing –
Critical Response writing –…sponse.pdf…essay.html

Audience and purpose analysis –…dience.pdf…d-content/
Pre-writing strategies –…chniques-0
Drafting –…0Paper.pdf

Identifying elements in arguments/analyzing arguments –…uments.pdf…uments.htm
Types of evidence –…-argument/

Finding sources –…f-sources/
Evaluating sources –
Credibility in sources –
Using sources –
Citing and documenting –
Citation styles –…se-1360722…c-citation

Quizlet flashcards –…ash-cards/

Posted in Curriculum, Free Tuition, High School, MOOCs, Science

Earth Science Curriculum Supplements

If your teen will study Earth Science in high school, I have an amazing resource to share.  This curriculum resource is grant-funded, so totally $0 free for users.  You can build an entire high school credit course from the materials, but if you want to pursue college credit, I’ll share some alternative ideas for that at the end.

The MetEd website provides education and training resources to anyone interested in learning more about meteorology, weather forecasting, and related geoscience topics. MetEd is populated and maintained by the COMETÂ Program, which is part of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research’s (UCAR’s) Community Programs (UCP).


earth1They have a huge catalog (700+ courses) but you can sort them by the level of difficulty (zero = easiest, 3=hardest) as well as by field of study.  Some classes are as short as 15 minutes, others exceed 10 hours.  Here are a few samples to get you interested- there is SO MUCH there to look through.  MetEd

Aviation Weather (61 courses)

Climate (52 courses)

Emergency Management (32 courses)

Environment and Society (47 courses)

Fire Weather (32 courses)

Oceanography (63 courses)

Space and Physics (7 courses)

College Credit

As with any non-college-taught course, college credit won’t happen automatically.  In other words, you can use the content of these courses (and others) to pursue the knowledge, that can then be used to obtain credit by exam or through a learning portfolio.

Learning portfolios (also called Credit for Prior Learning or Prior Learning Assessment/ PLA ) work best when you’re already zeroed in on a specific college and can follow their portfolio guidelines to the letter.   This option works best for adults under the guidance of a college advisor.

Credit by Exam is going to be the best fit for teens.  In credit by exam, learning happens independently and when you feel ready, you take the exam.  Passing any of the exams below can result in college credit.

I’ve pulled up all the exam brands that include Earth Science in some amount.    If you intend to prep for one or all of these exams, be sure to carefully review their details page.  Be prepared to supplement your teen’s Earth Science course with extra reading and practice tests targeted toward the brand you’re using.

Though some colleges won’t award credit for some exams, it’s my opinion to test anyway.  I’ve heard very nervous parents warn that you should *always* confirm that a college will accept an exam before testing.  If that’s the case, you’ll never take a test!  Colleges all do their own thing, and some even change their policies from year to year.  Simply, if you’re waiting for a guarantee, you’ll wait too long.

When your teen knows the material, get the credit on their transcript if at all possible.  A worst-case scenario is that you’re out the cost (about $100) but the best case scenario is that you could save thousands in tuition/fees/ books/time.

Interesting to also note, I only hear parents exercise that warning when discussing CLEP or DSST, but these exams are no different than Advanced Placement, yet parents enthusiastically encourage their teens to take AP exams without regard about future potential college credit.  Take the test now, worry about college choice later.

UExcel Exam – Earth Science  (3 college credits)  $110

UExcel Exam – Weather and Climate (3 college credits) $110

DSST Exam- Astronomy (3 college credits) $85

CLEP Exam – Natural Sciences  *only 10% of this exam is Earth Science (6 credits) $85

DSST Exam – Environmental Science (3 college credits) $85

AP Exam – Environmental Science (3 college credits) $94

NOTE:  For Environmental Sciences, choose either the DSST or AP exam, but you can’t get credit for both.






Posted in working

Teen Jobs with Tuition Programs

I often speak about our family’s move across the country to access a free tuition program through my husband’s employer, but these kinds of benefits are sometimes available to our teens too.  Your teen’s part-time job in high school or college can have big rewards.

Tuition programs vary dramatically, there really isn’t a “one size fits all” way they work- but to give you a very simple explanation, there are companies that will pay for your teen’s tuition (full or part) while they work as employees.  This is different from a scholarship, which is often a one time gift and the scholarship provider doesn’t expect anything in return.

Tuition programs usually require a relationship between the employee and employer.

Tuition programs may require working a specific number of hours per week, a commitment to work after the tuition payment is made, etc., but make no mistake, this is REAL MONEY that can help your family obtain a debt-free college degree.  My husband’s bachelor’s degree and master’s degree were funded by his employer (two different ones) and my oldest son’s current employer is paying his tuition.

Our North Carolina Homeschooling for College Credit moderator shared the announcement about McDonald’s yesterday.  They’ve expanded their tuition program, so this is a great opportunity to put these kinds of benefits in one place for you to access.  Most teens will work part-time during high school, and there are dozens of companies that will allow your teen to continue working part-time during college – all while receiving tuition benefits.

You may remember the study from Boston University last year that followed the GPA of students who worked a shift or two per week during college.  They had higher GPAs across the board.  Of course, working too much correlated with lower GPAs, so we’re talking about part-time jobs that fit in and around school work – not a job that squeezes it out.

Reducing college costs by as much as possible is a bit of a hobby of mine!  If your goal is to reduce your teen’s student loan debt to ZERO, make time to investigate my previous posts:

100 Employer / Employee Scholarships

Working During College: Yes or No?

Completely FREE Colleges


Thanks to posting this great fast-food summary:


This tuition-reimbursement offer is for available to both full-timers and part-timers after one year on the job.

Employees get tuition, books, and fees reimbursed by Chipotle — up to the IRS limit of $5,250 per calendar year.

Chipotle also has a partnership through Guild Education that lets you earn up to 38 and 44 credit hours through on-the-job training.

Kentucky Fried Chicken

For hourly team members and shift supervisors with at least six months of service, KFC offers the REACH Educational Grant Program.

The program provides college tuition assistance via grants of $2,000 and $2,500. Grant recipients can attend any accredited two-year or four-year college or a trade/vocational school.

Managers, meanwhile, can receive grants of up to $3,000 through KFC’s REACH initiative.

Winners are selected by a competitive application process and may reapply each year.

Pizza Hut

Through a partnership with Excelsior College, Pizza Hut offers the Life Unboxed EDU program.

Excelsior offers tuition discounts of 45% on undergraduate studies and 15% on graduate studies for Pizza Hut employees.

Similar to Chipotle, Pizza Hut’s tuition assistance offer also allows you to earn up to 63 credits for on-the-job training.


The Starbucks College Achievement Plan is perhaps the most generous of any restaurant tuition assistance plan. You basically get a free education through a partnership with Arizona State University!

Full tuition reimbursement is available for every year of college, culminating in you earning a bachelor’s degree.

The specific details of the plan are available here.

Taco Bell

Just like Chipotle, Taco Bell has teamed up with Guild Education for certain education benefits.

Employees get tuition, books and fees reimbursed up to the IRS limit of $5,250 per calendar year. There’s also the opportunity to earn college credit for on-the-job training.


Thanks to the corporate tax savings under the new tax law, McDonald’s says it’s committed to increasing college tuition benefits for employees to the tune of $150 million over five years.

Eligible employees receive upto $2,500/year, managers, meanwhile, will have access to $3,000.  There are no lifetime caps on this perk, and the super-sized benefit takes effect May 1, 2018 and will be retroactive to January 1, 2018.

Employees will be required to be with McDonald’s for 90 days before being allowed to take advantage of this benefit.  Employees who want tuition assistance will only need to put in 15 hours minimum a week instead of the previous requirement for 20 hours a week.

Posted in financial aid, Tuition

Careful Borrowing for College

“When a student debtor is approved for financial aid, those funds are sent and administered by that student’s college’s financial aid office. The financial aid office takes out the necessary money to pay the college for that student’s course load,” LendEDU research analyst Mike Brown writes.

Whatever money remains is sent to the student loan borrower in the form of a refund check. The refund check is intended to be used for living expenses or other school-related expenses, but there is no way of keeping track of where that excess money is spent.”

The above story appeared earlier this month on a site called College Fix, as part of LendEdu’s report.  But, it’s old news, students have been doing this since my early days in college administration (1990’s) but the distinction now is that the amount of money they can borrow is staggering.

First of all, know that your teen can borrow money to attend college.  The federal borrowing guidelines allow for borrowing for 150% of the length of a degree program (if you’re pursuing a 4-year degree, you are eligible to borrow for 6 years)   Your teen will be allowed to borrow $57,500 for their bachelor’s degree per current guidelines.  If they stay in school and continue onto a master’s or doctorate degree, they’ll be able to borrow $138,500 per current guidelines.

Second, know that you can borrow money for your teen to attend college.  In short, parents can borrow whatever deficiency exists between their teen’s borrowed amount and the cost of attendance according to current guidelines.   As you can imagine, there is little incentive for colleges to keep tuition prices affordable when parents and teens can simply borrow for their teen to attend any college at any cost.  

Last week, I wrote about how none of us has unlimited time, talent, or resources.  An encouragement to parents as they guide teens toward high school graduation.  Today, I want to take a shot at helping your teens make smart(er) borrowing choices this fall by avoiding some of the common issues they’ll face as they sign their financial aid “package” documents in the coming months.

Most of the time, a financial aid package is nothing more than a loan or many loans.  If your teen is receiving grants or scholarships, those are gifts that don’t have to be paid back- and should be clearly identified in their package.



2017 CNN Money
credit: CNN Money 2017


Let’s look at the above example from CNN Money.   If you can get past the sticker shock of a family borrowing $53,342 for ONE YEAR, you’re looking at a total borrowed amount of $217,368 between the parents and teen by the time he’s finished.   If future borrowing matches this sample, the teen will borrow at least $22,000 and the parents will borrow at least $195,000.

United States Department of Education reports that it takes, on average, SIX years to complete a 4-year degree.

Parents here know that you can complete the first 2 years of almost every college major for pennies on the dollar in high school by using:

  • credit by exam programs like CLEP and AP in some amount
  • free tuition through your state’s dual enrollment program. List of States
  • using your community college to complete transfer courses or full degrees.

Let’s assume you’ve been exceptionally efficient with your teen’s high school program.  You’ve injected college credit where it makes sense, and you’ve found a program that allows them to transfer a full Associate degree into their Bachelor’s degree program perfectly.  You’re still faced with the question of how to fund “the last 2 years.”

It might surprise you to learn that I think borrowing for the last 2 years isn’t a problem.  In fact, there is a lot of data that tells us most of the problems and unnecessary costs happen in the first 2 years.   Everything we talk about here – credit by exam, dual enrollment, distance learning, transfer credit- it all saves time and money off the first 2 years.  If you have to borrow, your best shot at using your money wisely is to fund their last 2 years.  The last 2 years are harder to “hack” with alternative or inexpensive credit.  So, if you’re trying to stretch every last dollar, it’s best to hang tight, and use it (or borrow) at the very latest possible moment- but when the finish line is within your view.

Look again at this financial aid package- there is one line I want you to notice:


Did you see the “Financial Need” row?  Where did that number come from?  It should surprise you to learn that the college doesn’t cost $51,845- but the college wants you to borrow that amount.  (Albion College in Albion, Michigan)  If you go to the college’s cost page, you’ll see a breakdown like this:

Tuition & Fees  $39,313 USD
Room & Board  $11,066 USD
Books & Supplies  $800 USD
Other Expenses  $906 USD
Annual Cost of Attendance
$52,085 USD

(final cost differs slightly from CNN’s graphic- but not significantly)

The amount the college expects you’ll “need” to attend there makes a lot of assumptions!  Tuition and Fees are what you’re going to get a bill for.  $39,313 isn’t flexible, and if you allow your teen to attend, they’ll have to pay that amount.

But, they’ve assumed your teen will live on campus (not everyone does) and will purchase the meal plan (board) which not everyone does.  Further, they’ve written in a loan for $1706 to cover projected books, supplies, and “other” expenses (pizza?) that your teen may or may not have.  Either way, those aren’t billed costs, so 100% of that money will be given to your teen as a “refund check.”

If your teen signs their financial aid package as written, but chooses to live at home, your teen will receive a “refund check” for  $12,772.  If they do live on campus, their refund check will be $1706.

This isn’t a “refund,” it’s a “cash advance loan.”

“Polling “1,000 student loan borrowers who are currently enrolled at a four-year college,” LendEDU sought to determine “how many are using student loan money to help pay for their spring break trips this year.”

Nearly 57% of respondents affirmed that they would be using financial aid to help finance their vacations.”  -LendEDU

spring break

10 Careful Borrowing Tips

  1. Borrow only the amount you’ll be billed for.  The “extras” that the school automatically includes can usually be budgeted for or paid for using cash. Your package probably includes money for buying textbooks (smart students rent or buy used textbooks!) as well as things like parking passes.  If your teen’s financial package doesn’t spell this out for you, you’ll need to get those numbers yourself.
  2. Declining a loan will require a lot of paperwork, and will likely confuse the financial aid office.  Our family experienced this last year when my husband’s employer paid 75% of his MBA degree, and though we needed to borrow to pay his portion, the financial aid office automatically offered him a loan to pay 100%.  When he declined their “generosity,” he had to sign no less than 5 forms before they agreed to reduce his loan amount to just the part of tuition he owed.
  3. Earn the maximum allowable credit in advance.  Whether you choose CLEP, AP, or dual enrollment, this advanced credit shaves money and time spent finishing a degree.  Some colleges allow 15-30 credits in transfer, but others allow as many as 90!  This reduces the time spent finishing a bachelor’s degree by 1-2-3+ years!
  4. Many majors are available through your state’s colleges and universities via distance learning- reducing housing costs to zero.  These degrees are identical to those earned on campus, so if your teen is studying something that doesn’t require “hands-on” labs, you may be able to avoid borrowing living expenses and dorm fees entirely.  Good majors that work with distance learning:  psychology, history, business, communications.
  5. Juniors and seniors can earn scholarships!  Scholarships aren’t only for incoming freshman.  Check the professional association linked to your teen’s major- majors like nursing or business usually have huge scholarship opportunities.
  6. A part-time job can have big rewards.  Many companies offer tuition reimbursement in some amount.  List of 100 employers.
  7. Price shop.  You may not realize this, but hundreds of colleges offer the same degrees.  As a general rule, public colleges/universities in your home state are usually a fraction of the cost of attending a public college/university in another state.  Private colleges don’t often care what state you’re from but are almost always the most expensive choice.
  8. Credit shop.  If your teen worked hard in high school to earn college credit, choose a college that recognizes their credit.  While having completed 1-2 classes may not necessarily sway your decision, some of you will have teens with 1-2 YEARS of college credit in the bank- it’s worth finding a school that will take it all.
  9. When in doubt, wait it out.  If you’re not sure – or if your teen isn’t sure that they need a 4-year degree in their field, take the time to be sure.  Use their credit earned toward a 2-year degree or take a gap year.  Additionally, doing unpaid volunteer internships offer an exceptional opportunity to explore careers without borrowing a dime.
  10. If you must borrow, save the loans for the last 2 years. It is nearly impossible to find discounted tuition for upper level (300/400 level) courses, but if you start homeschooling for college credit in high school,  you can cash-flow the first two years of almost any degree… and that is what I call resourceful high school planning!


Posted in Career Planning, College Majors, High School

Unlimited Time, Talent, and Resources

The motivational/inspirational quote always goes something like this:

“What would you do if you had unlimited time, talent, or resources?  Do that!” 

If you love that quote, you’re not alone.  But, you might not appreciate this post very much, and I want to talk to you about how time, talent, and resources fit into the homeschooling for college credit journey.

None of us has unlimited time.

None of us has unlimited talent.

None of us has unlimited resources.

I understand the concept of the quote- it’s not meant to suggest any of us literally has no parameters, it’s an exercise meant to open up the world of possibilities.  What’s not to love?

As parents of homeschooled teens, we have the privilege of also being their guidance counselor.  If I were advising your teen, it would be easy enough for me to encourage – inspire- motivate – the sky is the limit…. but that’s only because I don’t know him/her.  I don’t know how he what kinds of problems he loves to solve, his fears about his future, or what makes him tick.  I don’t know his heart.  Inspirational quotes are meant to encourage everyone, and as such, they aren’t very specifically useful to anyone.

I think homeschooling parents have a unique opportunity that we are almost going to miss if we subject ourselves to the shallow one-liners that guide mainstream teens.  Frankly, the “college at all costs” trend of the day is costing our economy and teens a lot of lost time and resources.dream

  • Currently, about 1/2 of the teens that start college won’t finish.
  • Of students who finish, the average time to complete a 4-year degree is 6 years.
  • Studies tell us that about 1/2 of the teens that start college haven’t selected a major or will change it at some point.
  • Finally, we know 2/3 of students are going to borrow money to fund their education.

This is a very informative snapshot of whether or not current wisdom is working.  I don’t think it is.  Education data is one of the most heavily researched topics in modern history – and we have data!  There are big differences between college students in 1940 and 2018.  It’s true that in 1940 only about 5% of the population held a bachelor’s degree whereas today it’s much higher, about 1/4th to 1/3rd depending on your source. But, something to note, however, is that graduation rates among those who started college in the 1940’s and finished, was better than 90%.  In other words, fewer started, but most finished.  Today we get more teens into college, but don’t get many out on the other side with a degree, instead they come out with debt and shame for “failing.” Why?

The biggest shift  I’ve observed over the past 10 years, is that the focus of the entire K12 education system is spent focused on 1 goal: getting teens into college.  All effort, all energy, all finances, all must give way to the idol of college admission.  In my opinion, that’s the wrong goal.  Your teen can get into college.  Every community college in the country allows your teen to walk in and enroll.  Getting in isn’t the problem.  Now, if the question is instead “can my teen get into ABC college?” That I can’t answer.  Maybe.  Maybe not… but of the 12,000+ college options, that question seems narrow to me.

The better question to ask in 2018 is if your teen can get out of college. When the goal is getting out (with a degree, with minimal debt, and in a reasonable amount of time), then we’re going about the process making better decisions and giving our teens solid guidance.  We’ve removed the romance and hype that surrounds the “college experience” and we’re using good judgment and wisdom.

Let’s do a small experiment.  Imagine that YOU (the parent) decided to pursue a college degree this August.  Given the option, would you study to become a doctor or a nail technician? Even if you’ve never studied either formally, you can guess what each would involve.  Would you set a budget, or are you comfortable just borrowing whatever it costs?  How much time would you like to spend on your degree?  1/2 year?  6 years?

Though I don’t know you, I’m going to predict the following:

  • You have a really good idea about what kinds of sacrifices and brains would be required to attend med-school.

  • You would never borrow $50,000 to become a nail technician.

  • If you’re borrowing $150,000 you’d be very sure that there is a stable career on the other side of it.

  • You have a really good idea about your strengths, weaknesses, talents, and type of job you’d like to have/avoid.

  • If I suggest you become a pharmacist, a chef, or a landscaper- you can understand what that is, and know whether or not you’re a good fit for that occupation.

Why?  Why do you know these things?  Because adults have a very good understanding of time, a very good awareness of talent,  personality, and adults have a very real understanding of debt.  Frankly, adults are better at making decisions because we’ve had more time on the planet.  Our teens need us to help them rule in and rule out an occupation that is a poor fit.


The Science of Choice

As it turns out, science and psychology study behavior and choice, and how it intersects with happiness, satisfaction, and action.  Rather than give you yet another expert who will interfere with your good intuition (because no one scientist is ever regarded as an expert by everyone), I want to highlight one of the key principles of choice that I think is very relevant to parents who are also their teen’s guidance counselor:  Fewer choices. 

There are several famous studies that follow decisions made by people choosing between a couple options, and many options.  As it turns out, when people have a very large pool of options, they are almost always unsatisfied with their decision whereas when they’ve only had to choose between a couple options, they are quite satisfied.  The experts believe that this is because we can’t realistically evaluate too many things at once- that if we were trying to choose between 20 of something, it’s harder to trust that we’ve really compared all of the pros and cons, thus an anxiety of missing a piece of the puzzle that may have been important to make the best decision.  It’s much easier for our mind to consider 3 choices and select one with confidence.

  • Good question: “after graduation, do you think you’d like to go straight to college or go on a mission trip for 6 months in Haiti first?”  Of course, you’ll tailor the question that to fit your family, but when we start with too many options, the teenage brain just can’t discern between them.  This helps the teen evaluate a timeline, gives them a voice in the choice, but isn’t overwhelming.
  • Hard question:  “where would you like to go to college?  You can go anywhere you want!”  Clearly, no person can rationally evaluate “anywhere” and “anything” well.  How many of us could do that?  How many of us know about “all” colleges everywhere?  None of us.  Bring down the choices into bite-size pieces.
  • Good question:  “since you love music and are so gifted, have you thought about becoming a music teacher?”  This uses adult wisdom to zero in on a potential career option that uses the student’s talent in a specific way.  Even if the teen isn’t interested in becoming a music teacher, the yes/no decision is not overly complex for a teen.
  • Hard question:  “I know you love playing music, but it isn’t really a good way to make a living. Can’t you think of something else you could do to support a family?”  This is another example of “anywhere” question.  Of the zillions of career options, you’ve only removed one.  This question is too big.
  • Good question:  You’ve earned 27 credits in high school, if you go to ABC College they’ll let you use all of them, but if you go to XYZ College, they’ll only take 23 of them.  The difference here is only 1 class, how would you feel about having to retake once class? Is it worth choosing one over the other?”   This question is great because it helps the student on so many levels.  Besides narrowing it down for them (assuming you’re ok with both college choices) it brings forward a simple decision about time, work, or cost.

If this exercise is bringing you back to raising a toddler, it’s the very same principle!  We think that because we prefer to have many choices that it’s better for us, but we develop deeper confidence and security when we can consider a question carefully in smaller bites.  Further reading:  Too Many Choices: A Problem That Can Paralyze


What Happened to Average?

If you’ve spent a few minutes in any homeschool group, you’ll hear many parents label their teens as “gifted” or “challenged”  but when is the last time you’ve heard a parent declare proudly that their teen is “average?”  Huh?  Average has gotten a bad reputation being synonymous with “not trying hard enough” but the truth is that most of us are average intelligence with average talent.

Statistically speaking, about 75% of us fall into the same category of cognitive ability or intelligence: average.  That is to say that while there are degrees of average, most of us are about the same.  There are students with profound limitations, just as there are those with profound intelligence, and they are represented on the far ends of a traditional bell-shaped curve.  So, within the category of average, what makes someone different?  You already know the answer, and it has many terms, but they all mean the same thing:  hard work.  Hard workers almost always out-perform lazy workers, this isn’t news.  But as a teen’s guidance counselor, we need to be realistic with our teen’s determination to become a successful student.  In short, are they hard-working students?  What about talent?

  • Academic Work Ethic: By the time your teen is in 10th grade, you already have a good idea of their academic work ethic. We need to be honest – some occupations and college majors require significantly above average work ethic.  Medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, engineering.  These careers are elite because they require exceptional academic work ethic.  Students who are successful in these college paths are those who enjoy the challenge of difficult academic work and rigorous schedules.  They enjoy school and strive to be exceptional students, who happen to be using their gifts and talents to pursue difficult subjects.
  • Talent: Most of us have a talent or something we are “naturally” good at.  As an example, we all know someone who can play anything on the piano, paints or draws well, who picks up new languages effortlessly or can cook anything without a recipe. Within our social circle, these people stand out to us, but, when grouped with other talented people, they appear more average.  This makes assessing our own teen’s talent very challenging.  As an example, perhaps I’m the best baker you know – but if you were to put me in a room with thousands of talented bakers, I’d be near the bottom.  I’m a good baker among amateurs, and that’s only because I went to culinary school.  I’ll never be a world-famous pastry chef, but I could work as a decent baker if I had to.  It’s not my talent.

How do we, as parents, reconcile having average teens?  How do we reconcile being average?  I don’t pretend to have that answer for everyone, but I do believe that if we teach our teens to work hard on what they’re doing, and praise their work ethic instead of only their results, we teach them that they do have control over one narrow aspect of their success:  their effort.  If you can help them match their talent with something that they feel motivated to apply effort toward, you’ll probably be on the right track for guiding them towards success.

Education at Any Cost

The notion of having unlimited resources was unheard of 50 years ago.  Once upon a time, students worked hard to earn a scholarship, parents had a college fund, or some students worked their way through night classes.   Once upon a time, the cost of college was a significant barrier to a student earning their degree.  While that sounds like bad news, the up-side to that barrier, was students weren’t allowed to rack up thousands of dollars of debt willy-nilly.

If you graduated high school in the 80’s or 90’s like I did, teens who borrowed for college (like I did) were faced with an “annoying” student loan payment of $50-$100 that lasted for 5-10 years.  Today, student loans aren’t annoying, they’re crushing.  Teens today who borrow face repayments of $300-$1200 per month for 10+ years.  Further, those debts, unlike our mortgages or credit cards, aren’t dischargeable in bankruptcy.  Borrowing rules changed in 2008.   Your teen, unlike you, will be allowed to borrow through the government guaranteed student loan program the first  $57,000 for their degree without any restrictions or your consent, and then they can continue on to graduate school and receive funding until they reach the cap of $138,500.  Once at that cap, they’ll have to seek alternative sources like parents, banks, or credit cards.  Parents, who usually have some collateral, are tapping into their 401K funds, IRA retirements, and home equity to pay college tuition.  As such, colleges haven’t much incentive to keep costs in line with inflation, and we’ve seen a huge rise in tuition and student loan debt.  To make matters worse, many people are entering into marriage, each bringing their own student loan debt into the family.


If you think this is an exception, you might be surprised to hear that 2/3 of students are borrowing money to follow their talents, passions, and dreams without the wisdom and counsel of their parents.  The young lady caller phoning Dave in this clip was probably encouraged by her coach, but as she soon found out, that passion has a price.  Be sure to hang around through the end.

I’ve written here before about my own son’s scholarship opportunities that we deliberately didn’t pursue with him after high school (diving) because the scholarships would have created significant long-term debt for him. In 4 years, we never met another parent in the league that that thought the way we did.  Everyone we met was quick to mortgage their home or tap their retirement to fund their teen’s education.  If we’d had a large college fund, we may have considered the situation differently, but the point is that we each have limitations.  Having the ability to borrow nearly unlimited amounts of money allows us to pretend those limits don’t exist, but it’s our teens who pay the price.

College budget tips you can start today:

  • While you’re still teaching them at home, inject college credit opportunities into your curriculum.  There are “easier” and “harder” ways to do this, but there is something for everyone.
  • Encourage your teen to earn low-cost college credit in high school.  Some states allow reduced or no cost tuition to teens that qualify.  Join your state’s Homeschooling for College Credit Facebook Group to help navigate the process.
  • If your teen doesn’t qualify for reduced or no-cost tuition, DIY a plan using credit by exam resources that you can arrange on your own.  The tabs at the top of this website provide free planning help.  By using CLEP, DSST, and Advanced Placement exams in high school, your teen can complete 1-2 full years of college credit at home.
  • Just because your teen graduated high school, that doesn’t mean they can’t use credit by exam to finish maxing out their 100 and 200 level credits. Even if it takes another year or two, keep making smart financial decisions. I tested out of an AA degree using CLEP at age 36 just for fun!
  • Unless your teen has an exceptionally high PSAT, ACT, or SAT, do not expect a full ride academic scholarship.  Partial scholarships should be evaluated against the cost of all 4 years, not just freshman year.
  • Parents who work for a college or university in a full-time job usually get free tuition for dependents.  Besides being a teacher, colleges hire cooks, secretaries, janitors, IT professionals, electricians, and safety workers.  It’s worth looking!
  • Many companies will pay for your teen’s tuition.  I have a good list of 100 employer scholarships here.
  • Some schools have guaranteed scholarships for teens who meet academic or geographic conditions.  I have a good list here. 
  • Almost every traditional state university in the country offers distance learning.  If your teen doesn’t need a “hands-on experience” for their degree, consider using your state university – but as a distance learner.  By living at home, your teen can save at least $10,000 per year.
  • Help your teen research the “ROI” for costs that they will spend on their degree.  ROI is a business-school term that means “Return on Investment.”  Some degrees have exceptional ROI.  As an example, nursing, which can still be started at a community college for about $8,000 returns an average annual salary of $68,000 per year based on last year’s census by The Department of Labor. Additionally, while nurses are encouraged to earn a bachelor’s degree, many hospital employers will pay the tuition for nurses to do so while working.
  • Even for teens who are on the lower-average side academically, there are opportunities for college classes that can be done at home in a self-paced setting with online proctoring.  This allows teens (like mine) to make enormous progress, but at their own pace without barriers like taking notes during a lecture, or memorizing huge chunks of content.  General degrees in liberal arts or business are easy to complete this way and can be very affordable.  (about $15,000 total)
  • Talk with your teen about the budget, their responsibility, and what you plan to contribute to the process.

In closing, I urge parents to understand that you an say “yes” to a college degree while also saying “no” to the snares that trap young students, especially those that result in student debt without the credential to repay it.

If you’ve homeschooled in high school, your teen has already witnessed that education and learning don’t have to look the same for everyone.  Your teen has an opportunity to follow your lead by being resourceful and open to thinking outside the box.  There are dozens of different ways to make a college degree affordable!


Posted in ACE, Alternative Credit Project, Transfer Credit

Program Closing: Alternative Credit Project

**BREAKING NEWS from ACE**   What we decided was to allow students a 60 day grace period to finish the ACP courses. So please let them know they will have until May 31, 2018 to finish the courses. If you or your students run into any issues please let me know and I’ll make sure to resolve them as best I can.”

Brice Struthers, M.A.
Program Manager, Academic Innovation
Center for Education Attainment and Innovation
American Council on Education
(202) 939-9737

I’ve posted from time to time about The Alternative Credit Project, so I’m sad to report today that the program is closing down effective 3/31/2018.  At the risk of this post reading like a bowl of alphabet soup, I’m going to try and keep this simple, but we have a lot of initials in the next few paragraphs and I want to be sure you guys have this info.

First, if you’ve never heard of the Alternative Credit Project, you’ve nothing to worry about. I’m going to mention programs in this post that you may have heard of, and may even be participating in, but the Alternative Credit Project was a program within a program and has no bearing on college credit earned outside of the ACP.  In other words, the providers will STILL offer courses, but they’ll do so independently now.

Alternative Credit Project was a program within a program

A quick overview:  The Alternative Credit Project ACP was a grant-funded program of American Council on Education ACE that started late 2014.  The program selected 6 alternative college credit course providers (Saylor Academy, Straighterline, EdX, Ed4Credit, Pearson, and Sophia) and then found about 50 colleges that would guarantee (in writing) that students who completed a course in the program could receive college credit at the participating colleges.

The reason this was a noteworthy program:   As a program within a program, we saw that some of the colleges who signed up to accept credit were “new players” in alternative credit acceptance, and by agreeing to participate, parents now had the option of using inexpensive home-based self-paced college credit resources in their homeschool and have a written guarantee that their teen could use them at a participating college.   This was a “backdoor” method of bringing alternative credits into a traditional college that otherwise wouldn’t be a target school for families.

Who will feel the greatest sting? Our families in Colorado will be hit the hardest.  Colorado Community Colleges signed on, and this meant parents who wanted to DIY their teen’s dual enrollment could use this program and earn college credit for about $25 per course.  (Colorado does offer tuition-free dual enrollment, but only in 11-12th grades, so resourceful parents could supplement their program and really rack up college credit starting earlier than 11th and extending later than 12th)  The big benefit in play was that once a course is on a transcript in Colorado, the other public Colorado community colleges/universities automatically accept it in transfer.  So, by extension of this program, parents knew their teens would get college credit first at the community college level, but then also at the 4-year university in the future.  It was a very sweet deal.

The rest of you who feel the sting of this are probably building your own dual enrollment program from scratch.  Remember, not all states allow teens to dual enroll, and in those that do, only a handful offer that for no charge- so a great number of our parents look for low-cost alternatives that can be done at home.  Additionally, testing scores and age requirements in some states restrict enrollment in some programs, leaving parents feeling like they are “wasting” valuable time.  I wrote about one of my own son’s school year here Straighterline and my 10th Grader’s Spring Semester when he used Straigherline to complete a full year of college in 10th grade, a year before our state allowed him to enroll in our (free) dual enrollment program.

You’ll still be able to DIY home-based dual enrollment program for your teen, you’ll just have to plan more carefully.

College Partnerships

College partnerships are written agreements, much like we see in many states at the community college level.  Some of your states have written agreements called Articulation Agreements that guarantee the transfer of courses taken at the community college into that state’s public college/university.  These guarantees give parents confidence that their teen’s college credit earned in high school can be used later, thus saving a lot of time and money!  The Alternative Credit Project had roughly 50 partnership agreements with colleges that may not have otherwise had agreements with their community college!  In other words, the program was finally the “in writing” promise parents wanted in place before signing up for these alternatives (inexpensive $) courses.

Straighterline already has over 100 written college-partnerships in place, making them a clear leader in this area.  That is far more than the ENTIRE Alternative Credit Project had in place.  Clearly, Straighterline didn’t “need” the ACP program, but for the other 5 players (Saylor Academy, EdX, Ed4Credit, Pearson, and Sophia) these partnerships were ground-breaking.  On their own, most of those course providers have only a small handful of written partnerships, making transfer less secure.  To be fair, many colleges claim to accept credit of that type (ACE), but I like certainty.  To, to be frank, prior to the Alternative Credit Project, I rarely suggested any of these credit providers since the transfer was so shaky.  ACE publishes a list of colleges who say they will consider transfer credit, but I’ve found too many mistakes in that list to consider it useful.

In other words, without the guarantee of the written ACP transfers, we are back to relying on partnerships created by each of the individual course providers (Saylor, EdX, Sophia, Pearson, Ed4Credit, Straighterline) and since each are a little different in terms of business model,  how aggressively they “go after” formal partnerships varies.  It’s not surprising the the the largest partnership list was created by Straighterline, a profitable company – while the lowest cost provider, Saylor Academy, is a non-profit and lacks the resources to be as aggressive setting up that structure away from ACP.

Does this Affect You?  Has your teen has earned /is earning college credit through Saylor Academy, EdX, Ed4Credit, Pearson, Sophia, or Straighterline?  If no, then no worries, this won’t affect your teen’s college credit at all.  If yes, you’ll need to take steps to be sure their college credit is secure.  I’m going to write out the step-by-step process, but time is of the essence, so if you hit a roadblock, message me for help.
  1. Find out if the course they are taking / has completed holds ACE or NCCRS college credit separate and apart from their participation in ACP.   Go into the ACE Database  and type in the organization’s name- search for your course.  For those using Saylor, check the NCCRS Database the same way.  If you find the course, it’s going to be worth college credit once ACP closes, so even if you change target schools, it is still worth college credit.
  2. Make sure that all of your teen’s ACP courses have been added to their ACE transcript TWICE.  Your teens ACP course should have an entry under ACP, but then also under the original provider (if applies).  You should be able to view their courses under both headings!! As an example, if your teen completed the American Government course through Straighterline, the first entry would be in the “Alternative Credit Project Ecosystem” heading with a course number and completion date:
American Government (StraighterLine)

ACPE-0072 Course 04/14/2017
and then separately, the same course would appear under the Straighterline heading with its own course number and the same completion date:
American Government*

OOSL-0063 Course 04/14/2017

3.  If you find that the course(s) is only available for college credit under the Alternative Credit Project and does not have stand-alone approval for credit, that course must be completed and submitted BY YOU / YOUR TEEN  to ACE by 3/31/2018 midnight (EST).  Even though the program is closing, there is still a strong possibility that colleges will honor the relationship if you completed the course while the relationship was in place.


Saylor Academy is being very proactive in obtaining ACE / NCCRS approval for the courses that will otherwise appear “unaccredited” once the ACP program folds.  Specifically, there are 8 courses that are at risk.  They are:

BIO101: Introduction to Molecular and Cellular Biology         ACPE-0023
BUS101: Introduction to Business                                        ACPE-0107
BUS103: Introduction to Financial Accounting                      ACPE-0113
CHEM101: General Chemistry I                                            ACPE-0034
MA121: Introduction to Statistics                                         ACPE-0017
PHYS101: Introduction to Mechanics                                   ACPE-0008
PHYS102: Introduction to Electromagnetism                       ACPE-0007
POLSC221: Introduction to Comparative Politics                  ACPE-0071

I contacted Saylor Academy’s Executive Director Jeff Davidson and asked if he expected these 8 to be ACE approved before ACP expired, and he wrote me this very encouraging note:

“Hi, Jennifer-   We are submitting ALL of our “ACPE” courses to ACE for re-review this month.  I suspect ACE will not allow a “lapse” for those courses if they are unable to complete the review by 3/31, but I can not 100% definitely guarantee that. I would be shocked if there was a lapse, so I’m 95% confident there will not be. So please express that super high level of confidence. “

Before I leave you with the list of ACP partnership schools, know that helping you learn the transferability of courses is my TOP PRIORITY.  Why?  Because everyone has their own set of preferences for choosing our teen’s classes.  We have different budgets, skills, even teacher preferences that we get to choose with them.    Transfer, on the other hand, colors everything and must be known in advance.  

In order for YOU TO BE YOUR TEEN’S BEST GUIDANCE COUNSELOR, you have to know and understand how/why a course that you THINK should transfer will or won’t.   Know that I’ll post updates as they happen, and we’ll follow the progress of how the partnership schools react once they’ve severed ties with ACP.  Additionally, I’ll keep you up to date on the ACE / NCCRS college credit status of Straighterline, Saylor, EdX, Ed4Credit, Sophia, and Pearson.   

ACP Partnership Schools (through 3/31/2018)

Alternative Credit Project Home Page

American Public University
American Public University, Transfer up to 90 credits
Antioch University Midwest
Antioch University Midwest. Transfer up to 60 credits
Antioch University Online
Antioch University Online. Transfer up to 60 credits
Antioch University Santa Barbara
Antioch University Santa Barbara, Transfer up to 90 credits
Antioch University Seattle
Antioch University Seattle. Transfer up to 90 credits
Arapahoe Community College
Arapahoe Community College. Transfer up to 45 credits
Bastyr University
Bastyr University. Transfer up to 45 credits
Bellevue University
Bellevue University. Transfer up to 90 credits
Brandman University
Brandman University
Transfer up to 90 credits
Capella University
Capella University
Transfer up to 90 credits
Cardinal Stritch University
Cardinal Stritch University
Transfer up to 60 credits
Central Michigan University
Central Michigan University
Transfer up to 60 credits
Colorado Northwestern Community College
Colorado Northwestern Community College
Transfer up to 45 credits
Colorado State University - Global Campus
Colorado State University – Global Campus
Transfer up to 60 credits
Colorado Technical University
Colorado Technical University
Transfer up to 90 credits
Community College of Aurora
Community College of Aurora
Transfer up to 45 credits
Community College of Denver
Community College of Denver
Transfer up to 45 credits
Dallas County Community College District
Dallas County Community College District
Transfer up to 45 credits
Davenport University
Davenport University
Transfer up to 90 credits
Fayetteville State University
Fayetteville State University
Transfer up to 64 credits
Fort Hays State University
Fort Hays State University
Transfer up to 64 credits
Franklin Pierce University
Franklin Pierce University
Transfer up to 45 credits
Front Range Community College
Front Range Community College
Transfer up to 45 credits
Goodwin College
Goodwin College
Transfer up to 90 credits
John F. Kennedy University
John F. Kennedy University
Transfer up to 90 credits
Kaplan University
Kaplan University
Transfer up to 90 credits
Lakeland University
Lakeland University
Transfer up to 30 credits
Lamar Community College
Lamar Community College
Transfer up to 45 credits
Miami Dade College
Miami Dade College
Transfer up to 45 credits
Monroe Community College
Monroe Community College
Transfer up to 36 credits
Morgan Community College
Morgan Community College
Transfer up to 45 credits
National Louis University
National Louis University
Transfer up to 40 credits
Northeastern Junior College
Northeastern Junior College
Transfer up to 45 credits
Northern Arizona University
Northern Arizona University
Transfer up to 64 credits
Northwestern State University
Northwestern State University
Transfer up to 90 credits
Notre Dame College
Notre Dame College
Transfer up to 32 credits
Otero Junior College
Otero Junior College
Transfer up to 45 credits
Pikes Peak Community College
Pikes Peak Community College
Transfer up to 45 credits
Pueblo Community College
Pueblo Community College
Transfer up to 45 credits
Red Rocks Community College
Red Rocks Community College
Transfer up to 45 credits
Rowan University Global Learning and Partnerships
Rowan University Global Learning and Partnerships
Transfer up to 30 credits
Sinclair College
Sinclair College
Transfer up to 90 credits
Southern New Hampshire University
Southern New Hampshire University
Transfer up to 90 credits
Stark State College
Stark State College
Transfer up to 40 credits
SUNY Empire State College
SUNY Empire State College
Transfer up to 90 credits
Texas Woman`s University
Texas Woman`s University
Transfer up to 15 credits
Thomas Edison State University
Thomas Edison State University
Transfer up to 90 credits
Trinidad State Junior College
Trinidad State Junior College
Transfer up to 45 credits
Transfer up to 60 credits
University of Baltimore
University of Baltimore
Transfer up to 15 credits
University of New England
University of New England
Transfer up to 65 credits
Walden University
Walden University
Transfer up to 90 credits
Wilmington University
Wilmington University
Transfer up to 75 credits
Youngstown State University
Youngstown State University
Transfer up to 30 credits


Posted in CLEP, High School

CLEP for 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th Grades

If you’re planning CLEP exams as part of your teen’s high school journey, you’re probably worried about selecting a first, or next, exam.  Should your teen take Natural Sciences or Chemistry?  Humanities or American Literature?  When is the best time to take Composition?  Since my goal is to help you become your child’s best guidance counselor, I’m going to give you the tools to make that call yourself!

Through my own testing journey, I’ve found that CLEP exams tend to represent one of two exam types:

CLEP Exam Types

  1. Individual subjects
  2. Cumulative subjects


CLEP Exam Types

How and when your teen prepares for any given exam depends first on the exam type.  This is actually a really big deal- and may make the difference between success and failure!

An individual subject is one that you can approach with no pre-existing knowledge about the subject, and learn it well enough to pass an exam.  A few examples of these exam types are American Literature or Sociology.  In both cases, you can start learning from scratch without any kind of disadvantage.

An example of a cumulative subject is one that does require prior knowledge.  Exams in this category include College Algebra or Spanish.  In the case of College Algebra, you can’t begin the study of the subject without previous math preparation (ideally completion of Algebra 2) and in the case of Spanish, you’ll have to learn Spanish before taking the exam.  In both cases, where you start is a significant factor in determining how fast and how easily you can learn the material.

Why should you care?  Because in order to choose the best time for your teen to take a specific course/exam, you need to know where it best fits into your homeschool program.

Some exams fall neatly into categories, others can go either way.  I’ve sorted them for you.  Exams in the “Decide for Yourself” category are multi-disciplinary or require at least familiarity with elementary content before approaching the subject at the college level.  Meaning they incorporate more than one subject.    The exam titles in the list are active links,  so you can click the title to explore the content decide for yourself.

Clearly Individual Subject Exams

Clearly Cumulative Subjects


Tips for Individual Subjects & Exam Prep

  • Learning creates the foundation of knowledge, test prep memorizes facts and figures.  Make a learning plan that includes both.
  • If your teen typically studies one subject at a time, estimate 1 month of learning and test prep for each subject.  (Monday-Friday about 3-4 hours per day = about 60 hours, or 1/2 high school credit)
  • If your teen typically studies multiple subjects at a time, estimate about 60 hours divided over the course of your block, trimester, semester, or unit that you use.
  • I’ve never met someone who told me they were over-prepared for their exam.  When in doubt, allow a little extra time.
  • Some subjects offer exams in 2 parts (US History, Western Civ., Economics) and lend themselves to a full year of high school study.  The mid-year point is a good time to take the first exam, end of year is a good time to take the second exam.
  • Keep in mind all CLEP subjects are 100/200 level college learning- that makes availability of resources abundant!!  Discarded textbooks, thrift store finds, and online MOOCs are excellent sources of learning material. Learning material doesn’t have to be current.
  • Exam prep material should match the current edition of the exam so your test prep matches what they’ll be tested on.
  • Group subjects together to build on knowledge (Psychology, Educational Psychology, Human Growth and Development all have some cross-over)
  • Start with a subject your teen likes.
  • If reading level isn’t at or above the 12th grade level, learning the content might not be enough to pass.  Study the subject now, continue to work on reading level, and take the test in a year or two when reading level is higher.

Tips for Cumulative Subjects & Exam Prep

  • You’ll want to investigate what pre-existing knowledge is necessary to learn the subject.  For instance, Calculus requires first knowing Precalculus which first requires College Algebra which first requires Algebra 2 (high school).  The exam prep material assumes all preexisting knowledge is in place.
  • All college level sciences require a good foundation in high school level sciences.  For instance, college level chemistry assumes knowledge of high school level biology and chemistry as well as algebra.  Starting from scratch for CLEP Chemistry will be exceptionally challenging without that base- but not impossible.
  • Both composition exams and the Analyzing Literature exam assume strong command of college level language (reading and writing).  If you use standardized tests in your homeschool, your student should be testing beyond 12th grade Language Arts before you begin exam prep.
  • Foreign Language CLEP exams cover 2 semesters of college foreign language.  Your teen should have completed at least high school level 1 and probably 2 before attempting.

Now that you have a good understanding of if an exam will make up a subject in your homeschool, or if it will follow a year or more of study, you’re ready to make a schedule!  You can read my entire original post about creating a sample here:

Sample High School CLEP Schedule

In short, only YOU can decide where CLEP exams make sense in your homeschool schedule.  It’s based on what they’ve done, and what they plan to do in the coming years.  In part, it also helps to know if you’re planning to use dual enrollment options, and whether or not they have zeroed in on a college major.  The more information you have, the more specific you can be – but being uncertain isn’t a reason to do nothing.  If you have a teen with the knowledge, a CLEP exam can be a wonderful “final exam” in the bank.  The exam scores can be held for 20 years before being used, so the risk/reward ratio really supports testing while its fresh in their mind.

This is only ONE sample of how a family might inject CLEP credit into their homeschool.


9th Grade
Subject Area Semester 1 Semester 2 CLEP Exam
ENGLISH 9th Grade English 9th Grade English (N/A)
MATH Algebra 1 Algebra 1 (N/A)
SCIENCE Survey Science Survey Science (N/A)
HISTORY United States History United States History U.S. History 1U.S. History 2
FOREIGN LANGUAGE Spanish 1 Spanish 1 (N/A)
ELECTIVE Typing Photography (N/A)

In this sample, we are laying a foundation for future exams in English, Math, Spanish, and Science….but we’re not there yet.  We are going to allow some foundational learning to happen first, and then we’ll inject college credit when our teen is better prepared.  Instead, in this year, we are using a full year curriculum for United States History, and taking the U.S. History 1 exam at the half-way point, and then U.S. History 2 at the conclusion of the school year.  These two exams work perfectly together!


10th Grade
Subject Area Semester 1 Semester 2 CLEP Exam
ENGLISH 10th Grade English 10th Grade English (N/A)
MATH Algebra 2 Algebra 2 (N/A)
SCIENCE Biology Biology Biology CLEP
HISTORY World History World History (N/A)
FOREIGN LANGUAGE Spanish 2 Spanish 2 Spanish -maybe?
ELECTIVE Physical Education Health (N/A)

In this year, we continue to develop English and Math skills but are attempting two very big CLEP exams.  Both Biology and Spanish cover a full year of content, so we’ll play this by ear.  If our teen isn’t a solid “A” student, we may wish to eliminate the exams from our girl4plan or wait until later to attempt the.  Spanish is a tough call because if you’re only allowing 2 years of study, it’s now or never.  On the other hand, a 3rd or 4th year of Spanish would be ideal since we’re aiming for a high score (Level 2).  On the other hand, if we stop now, we have time to learn a second language.  As we go into 11th grade, we may have the added option of taking college courses through dual enrollment, which throws a monkey wrench into things a bit.  For the purpose of this sample, we’ll assume you’re only using CLEP.


11th Grade
Subject Area Semester 1 Semester 2 CLEP Exam
ENGLISH 11th Grade English 11th Grade English (N/A)
MATH College Algebra with PreCalculus College Algebra with PreCalculus College MathCollege Algebra
SCIENCE Chemistry Chemistry Natural SciencesChemistry
HISTORY Western Civ. I Western Civ. II Western Civ. IWestern Civ. II
ELECTIVE American Literature American Literature American Lit.Analyzing & Interpreting Lit.
ELECTIVE Music Appreciation Art Appreciation Humanities

We are experiencing major traction now.  In fact, while the CLEP exams all align perfectly to the subjects on the schedule, it may be too aggressive for all but the most motivated students.  I included them anyway so you could see how it fits together.  If you’ll take a moment to look at the SCIENCE row, the Natural Science CLEP exam would be perfect at the close of the 1st semester because that exam is 50% biology (taken last year) and 25% chemistry – a student with solid knowledge of biology and a cursory knowledge of chemistry can pass this exam without addressing the physics segment.  Chemistry, as its own exam, is difficult and should only be considered after a full year of robust chemistry study.  If I could also draw your attention to Humanities, that exam requires knowledge of music and art, but also a lot of the Western Civilization knowledge intersects with this exam, making it a perfect fit for this schedule.


At this point, my advice is that you’ll select remaining courses and exams that align with a target college.  College policy, awarding of credit, and accepted exams should all make their way into the conversation when selecting a college.  It’s reasonable that a college might not take all your teen’s hard work, but if a college doesn’t accept most of it, you may want to reconsider!  An encouragement to choose wisely comes from my friend Carol.  She allowed me to share her story with you.   We just saved $96,780

And by the way, were you keeping count?  How many potential college credits does the 11th grader in the sample have?


Our teen also took a total of 13 exams (I included Spanish) over the course of 3 years. Since CLEP exams cost about $100 each, the total financial investment was about $1300. Since a family can pay as they go, it allows most people to budget and plan for a good portion of their teen’s college education well ahead of time!  Not to mention the savings associated with books, meals, dorms, etc. that happen later.

Assuming the sample student attends a college that accepts all 60 credits, our sample student will have 2 years completed toward their bachelor’s degree, may have already earned an associate’s degree.  (We still have 12th grade left, and can fill in courses for a degree if we want)

For those wondering about the cost savings, you may want to revisit my post listing the current Cost of Tuition in the United States and calculate your potential savings based on the kind of college your teen may attend.  In general, if a college credit costs $325, your teen earned 60 of them for $1,300 over 3 years instead of paying (or borrowing) $19,500.  Now THAT’S something to get excited about!