Posted in business, College Admission, College Majors, Computer Science, Distance Learning, Free Tuition

University of the People

I have 2 over-reaching principles that guide what type of college content I share with you, and University of the People breaks both my rules.

(1)  Colleges I share must be Regionally Accredited – this one isn’t.

(2)  Colleges I share must be open to high school homeschooled students – this one isn’t.

So, why keep reading?  Because this college is worth knowing about, even if it isn’t the right fit for your teen.  In this post, I want to make a case for University of the People. You probably know someone who would love to attend college if cost weren’t a barrier. Perhaps this IS a degree your teen would consider?   University of the People is a university doing amazing things, and they’re worth considering.


Accreditation

I have to go there, just for a minute.  My first rule, that colleges mentioned must be Regionally Accredited (RA), is important within the context of what we do here because many careers and professions won’t acknowledge a degree that isn’t RA. Nursing, Medicine, Pharmacy, Accounting, public school K-12 teaching, Engineering, college teaching, Dietetics, Social Work, Architecture, and many others – including those that require a state license, almost always specify a “Regionally Accredited” degree.  Being “accredited” without the word “Regional” is not the same thing.    If your teen earns non-RA college credit, it will almost never transfer into an RA college (all community colleges and public universities are RA), while RA college credit readily transfers into other RA colleges.  So, as you can see, you can’t go wrong choosing RA.

Let me also add that when I tell you a handful of careers specify an RA degree, there are twice as many careers that don’t/won’t.  For instance, careers in business, computers, fire science, technology, military, ministry, drama, music, management, law enforcement, and numerous vocational programs (culinary arts, cosmetology, automotive, plus others) don’t care.  In fact, within certain fields, accredited is accredited; there is no distinction.   I am quite comfortable suggesting non-RA colleges to mid-career adults who are already in their career and simply need to check the box with an accredited degree in something.  I’m usually quiet when it comes to non-RA degrees for teens since there is usually so much uncertainty, but in this post, I’ll let you decide.

University of the People is accredited, but they are not Regionally Accredited.

Quick Back Story

In 2009, UoP was a tuition-free start up in California that nobody heard of and a guy surrounded by a few volunteers.  They offered one or two degrees initially, and since the college wasn’t accredited, they launched without much love from the higher education community.  In addition, they only accepted a handful of students (mostly non-American), so even if you didn’t mind their lack of accreditation, you still might not get in.  If you got in, you couldn’t transfer in ANY of your previous credit, they didn’t accept CLEP, and it was a little disorganized.  An early argument against their initiative is that it’s just as much work to earn an unaccredited degree as an accredited one.   I got the impression that they were a MOOC that wanted to be a college, and that they would fizzle out shortly (or start charging tuition).  If you’d like to see what the NY Times had to say about UoP in 2009, you’ll enjoy this story from their archives.

But then….

February 2014 UoPeople received accreditation from the Accreditation Commission of the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), a U.S. Department of Education authorized accrediting agency. This can be verified at http://www.deac.org/

So, this got people’s attention.  In addition, they started getting a lot of support in the university community.  Their list of volunteer university leadership includes:

In addition to the added credibility of a real leadership team and accreditation, they expanded their degree offerings to their current menu:boy3.jpg

Business Administration

  • Associate
  • Bachelor
  • Master

Computer Science

  • Associate
  • Bachelor

Community Health Science

  • Associate
  • Bachelor

 

For those who don’t need a Regionally Accredited degree, this university just got real. University of the People is now considered a legitimate online university and is listed in the US Department of Education Database as accredited.  Wow!


Tuition-Free

University of the People is the first worldwide tuition-free university.  They are totally online (no room and board cost), provide your textbooks (electronically, so no shipping or rental fees), and don’t charge tuition. But, they do charge a test proctor fee ($100) at the end of each course for the final exam.  In addition, if $100 is a financial hardship, they also offer scholarships!  From their website:

It is the University’s mission to provide affordable, tuition-free education for everybody. UoPeople is tuition-free, not free. You will never be asked to pay for courses, course material or annual enrollment fees. There is a nominal $60 Application Processing Fee for all applicants as well as a $100 Exam Processing Fee for each exam ($200 for the MBA). Based on this, an associate’s degree can be completed in 2 years for $2060,  a bachelor degree can be completed in 4 years for $4060, and an MBA can be completed in 15 months for $2460. UoPeople will never request these amounts upfront, but rather students will pay each Exam Processing Fee by the end of each exam period. These modest fees ensure that the University remains sustainable and can continue to provide quality education for everybody.

There are scholarships available for those students who cannot afford the nominal processing fees of the University. It is the University’s belief that everyone deserves the right to an education, and that no one should be left behind due to financial constraints.


Transfer Credit

(from UoPeople website)  What Credits Are Accepted at UoPeople?

University of the People will consider transferring credits earned at accredited US universities and accredited universities outside of the U.S. UoPeople will also consider credits earned from College Board AP tests or evaluated by ACE (including CLEP).

UoPeople will consider accepting transfer credit for a course in any instance in which the course content is equivalent to that of one of UoPeople’s courses or in which the course may be used towards an elective credit in a UoPeople degree program. UoPeople may award the transfer of up to 50% of the required program credits.

Ok – so, let’s talk about transfer credit, and how this applies to my second rule:

Colleges I share must be open to high school homeschooled students – this one isn’t.

 

It’s true that as a homeschooled high school student, you wouldn’t be eligible for admission.  (18 years old and a High School Diploma are required for admission) but with their new transfer credit acceptance policy, you can DIY 50% of this degree while you’re still in high school.  For those seeking an Associate’s Degree, that allows for 30 credits of transfer, and for those seeking a Bachelor’s Degree, you’ll be allowed to transfer in 60 credits.

Let me add, that while they will accept credit into their program, it is unlikely that you’d get to transfer course credit out of their program into a different program. In other words, if you start there, finish there.

Last comment:  this is not a self-paced independent study program.  They have 3 terms per year, an academic calendar, application and graduation cycles – the whole thing.  So, if you’re considering the program, you’ll have to verify the application period in advance.

DIY 30 or 60 credit transfer plans by request:  I want to extend an offer to help any parent or teen match up the correct CLEP, AP, DSST, or ACE credits to align with the max allowable credit accepted by University of the People.

If you or your teen plans to attend, email me at cookderosa@aol.com or send me a message and we’ll get started.

Any degree plans we create will be shared here to help others.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

We’re on Facebook!

Hey!  Did you know that Homeschooling for College Credit is on Facebook?

We have 2 great ways for you to connect-

First, be sure you’re following our main FAN PAGE.  This is where you’ll get a daily post in your newsfeed about resourceful high school planning.

Second, be sure to join your state’s Homeschooling for College Credit Group.  This is your opportunity to connect with other families in your state and get the specifics about your state’s dual enrollment programs, early college, CLEP testing, and college admissions.  Locate your state’s direct link here.

 

Posted in Curriculum, High School

Getting Ready to Write in College

Writing for Visual Thinkers: A Guide for Artists and DesignersLet’s talk about writing in college – not “I want to be a writer” writing, but the kind of writing everyone has to do to get through their degree.  I think it’s pretty common to spend a lot of time in our homeschools emphasizing creative writing, when in fact, only some of our teens will ever have to do creative writing in college.  What skills does the college expect your teen to have, and what will they learn while in class? In this post, we’ll look at the expectations of non-writing college majors and how you can prepare your high school student.


So, what pre-writing skills does your teen need before college?

Typing

I remember taking a typing class in 9th grade, but I haven’t seen “typing” class on a high school transcript since then. Perhaps typing is considered intuitive for our teens? Still, if your teen hasn’t developed the ability to type relatively well by now, it’s time to develop this skill.  Cathy Duffy has a handful of keyboarding and typing curriculum suggestions on her site, but I like the free online game called  Typing Club that is a super-organized curriculum open to anyone.

Word Processing 

Computer based typing using word processing software like Microsoft Word will be required almost 100% of the time. Writing in college is almost always done electronically because colleges use plagiarism software to scan the entire internet-universe for violations.   If you don’t have Microsoft Word, you may want to download a similar (free) product called Apache Open Office.  Once your teen is enrolled at the college, they may be eligible to purchase Microsoft Word (and the entire suite of products) at a significant student discount.  I used Apache Open Office for years, it is nearly identical to Word.

Basic computer functions your teen needs to know asap:  open a file, save a file, change a docx to a pdf, attach a file to an email, transfer a file to a zip/thumb drive.

Basic Word functions your teen needs to know asap:  modify margins, use italics/bold/underline, indent, change single/double spacing, insert citations, create headers and footers, run spell check, and create a bibliography page.

If there are gaps in your teen’s understanding in any of the above, there is a free computer class that a lot of the members here (adults and teens) have used with great success called Jan’s Illustrated Computer Literacy.  It’s a perfect 1-semester curriculum and covers all of the essentials they need.

Rewording without Plagiarizing

You can bet that your teen’s assignments will be run through plagiarism software.  It’s the norm today, and the software will calculate a “similarity percentage.” Teachers and professors look at the similarity percentages, and you can expect consequences when plagiarism matches at 20% or better.  This isn’t to scare parents but be aware that plagiarizing can be a serious offense, even when it’s on accident.  At the very least a student may receive a zero on an assignment, but significant infractions can result in expulsion.   The most common software teachers use is called Turnitin.  If you’d like to see examples of what would cause a flag, Turnitin has a nice infographic on their website.

Your teen will receive thorough instruction about what constitutes plagiarism in their English 101 class, but the sooner they start to understand plagiarism, the easier it will be for them to comply with the guidelines.  Turnitin has a nice tutorial to help you understand plagiarism in depth.

Basic Grammar

There won’t be time to learn basic grammar in college, the professors will assume your teen can compose a clear sentence from the start.  While you may be surprised that most of what you learned through 8th grade will be sufficient, that doesn’t make it less important.  Developing good habits, like using spell check every time, will help with this.

There is a new app on the market called Grammarly.  You can download it for your PC or phone and it runs a grammar checker at all times in the background of every program you’re in.  The free version will catch spelling and word choice errors, there is a premium “pay” version that helps you improve your writing.  Grammarly also sends you a weekly report with your top errors too.  It’s by far my favorite app of 2017, and I’ve got it on all my kid’s computers.  teen-2


What will the college teach my teen?

In all 50 states, your teen will take at least one English Composition course (assuming their college is accredited) and the majority will take two.  English Composition is commonly called English 101 and is taught as the first course (assuming no developmental courses are needed).  The second course in the series, where required, will vary by college.  The second English course is usually a research course, technical writing course, or business writing course and may be called English 102 or similar.

For your information, I’m including links to a few actual college websites for English Composition.  The more of these you visit, the more you’ll find that they all teach roughly the same thing.

Boise State University English 101

University of South Carolina English 101

Harvard University English 101

Liberty University English 101

Heartland Community College English 101

In general, the goal of English 101 is to teach the student the 4 common writing styles, and how to craft a 5-paragraph essay.  Expect the English course to contain significant amounts of short to medium length written assignments (under 750 words) using a variety of styles.

  • Expository – Writing in which author’s purpose is to inform or explain the subject to the reader.  When your student learns academic-style report writing, it will be this type.  Expository writing also carries over into business writing, research papers, white papers, lab reports, and discussion board requirements.
  • Persuasive – Writing that states the opinion of the writer and attempts to influence the reader. When your student must defend an argument, present their opinion, or create sales and marketing content, they will use this type of writing.  Persuasive writing is the ability to argue a side or position, which may or may not be your opinion.
  • Narrative – Writing in which the author tells a story. The story could be fact or fiction.
  • Descriptive – A type of expository writing that uses the five senses to paint a picture for the reader.

Depending on the college’s requirements, the second English course will usually be a research course that introduces the student to academic style formatting.  Narrative and descriptive writing are “full” or wordy, and paint a picture with words- this is frequently the opposite of the concise academic-styled writing called for in most classes.  Academic writing leaves behind Narrative and Descriptive writing and hits squarely on Expository and Persuasive writing styles.  In general, from this point forward, Expository and Persuasive writing styles will dominate the rest of a typical college student’s experiences.

Of the 4 common categories, you can expect expository and persuasive writing will be the backbone of most college assignments after English 101.  If your teen is not headed into one of the writing careers, their time in high school is best spent honing their ability to write both expository and persuasive papers from now until graduation.

I think it’s over-kill to teach academic stylized writing in high school, but if you want to owllook ahead, your teen will be required to use the writing style customary for their field or major. I’m copying the resource page from the BEST academic writing resource guide on the internet: Perdue OWL.  Seriously – it’s the best.

Professional, Technical Writing

These OWL resources will help you conduct research and compose documents for the workplace, such as memoranda and business letters. This section also includes resources for writing report and scientific abstracts.

Writing in Literature

These OWL resources will help you write about literature and poetry. This section contains resources on literary terms, literary theory, and schools of criticism, as well as resources on writing book reviews.

Writing in the Social Sciences

These OWL resources will help you write in some of the social sciences, such as social work and psychology.

Writing in Engineering

These OWL resources will help you write in a wide range of engineering fields, such as civil and computer engineering. This section contains resources on conducting research, working in teams, writing reports and journal articles, as well as presenting research. This section also contains the material from the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) – Purdue Writing Lab Workshop Series and the material from the Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) resources.

Creative Writing

These OWL resources will help you with the basics of creative writing. This section includes resources on writing poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.

Healthcare Writing

These OWL resources will help you write in medical, healthcare, and/or scientific contexts. This section includes original research articles and samples of the healthcare writing produced for a more general, lay-population audience.

Journalism and Journalistic Writing

These OWL resources introduce the basic concepts of journalistic writing. This area includes resources on the Associated Press style of format and writing, as well as resources on how to organize journalistic writing.

Writing in the Purdue SURF Program

These resources were designed as part of a live workshop series for undergraduate science, engineering, and technology students in the Purdue Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) Programs. SURF participants engage in summer-long research projects under the direction of Purdue faculty and graduate students.

Writing in Art History

These OWL resources provide guidance on typical genres with the art history discipline that may appear in professional settings or academic assignments.


Writing expectations after English 101

General Education Courses

100 and 200 level introductory courses taught as a foundation or before your major. Expect literature, humanities, and social sciences to be writing-heavy, while science, technology or math will contain little to no writing.  Expect online courses to conduct all of their activities by writing. A typical writing research assignment may be 2-5 pages. Science teachers often ask students to write and illustrate lab reports either from scratch or using a standard template.

Courses in Your Major

300 and 400 level courses in your major will usually require the most writing.  Humanities and social science majors will produce significantly more written work than science, technology or math majors.  Expect increased number of papers, but not necessarily increased length.  Rather than a single research paper, courses in your major may require 2-4 papers.  It is also not uncommon to write a thesis or complete a capstone as a final activity in your major.  An undergraduate thesis is a summary document about a single topic- it’s usually very robust in content and length.  A thesis may range from 15-30 pages.


Writing for Hire

In 2014, I posted an ad on Craigslist hoping to generate a little extra money for our family. I had a good deal of experience writing corporate newsletters, white papers, blog posts, business letters and recipes/menus as an employee.  I’d also just finished a master’s degree, so I had significant experience in academic writing, original research, and the like.  I’d read it was easy to land freelance writing gigs, so I decided to try one or two.   My ad was something to the effect of

” Fast freelance researcher/ writer for hire.  $20/page.

Original content – references available.”

Oh. My. Gosh.  I had no idea of the avalanche about to happen.  Within 24 hours, my inbox had 3-4 requests.  Within the second day, another 3-4.  By the end of the week, I had no less than 20 “gigs” requested.   How many newsletters?  None.  How many resumes or cover letters?  None.  How many blog posts? None.  How many menus? None.  How many white papers?  None.  100% of the gigs were sent by college students asking me to write their assignment for them!  Some of these assignments were simple 2-3 page opinion pieces that would have taken me about 30 minutes to complete.  Others wanted to know if I could guarantee a score of 90 or better. Another asked if I could complete his discussion posts for his online class.  Obviously, I had significant ethical issues with writing papers for students to pass off as their own- this was NOT the kind of work I wanted.  I pulled my ad, but the requests still poured in. A standout was the DOCTORAL CANDIDATE who wanted a quote on writing her 250-page dissertation for her Ph.D. in Education.  (Was I willing to come down from $20/page to $15?)    I declined.

Prior to this experience, I had no idea this was going on.  I’d taught for a long time at the community college, but this never came up with my colleagues.  I decided to share this experience with you because I want you to know that writing for hire is a HUGE business and not at all what I thought.  College students are absolutely hiring out writing.  Why?  I’m not totally sure.  Maybe they don’t have the time or the skills, or maybe they think since “everyone is doing it” that they should too?  Maybe they think they need a certain grade to maintain a scholarship.

Whatever the reason, it’s worth mentioning here so you can talk with your teen about it ahead of time.  Though I’m not sure, I would suspect that purchasing written work and turning it in as your own would probably result in significant consequences, perhaps even expulsion.


Composition Curriculum

In my homeschool, I ended up with was a merger of 2 distinct approaches.   The first approach came from a decade of using The Robinson Curriculum (RC) and the second from using  Institute for Excellence in Writing  (IEW) when my kids were young.  In RC, your child writes a page every day.  In IEW,  they teach you to grade your child’s STYLE, not their CONTENT.  (Sadly, the rest of IEW made my brain melt after 1 year).  So, I made my kids write every day, but never graded it.  They wrote a page and put it away. Every day.  For years. Occasionally I read it, but the point was to help them get over themselves, and not to treat writing as a precious activity that needed to produce a masterpiece every time they put pen to paper; rather that it be more natural and casual.   If your teen suffers from “analysis paralysis” and over-thinks every writing assignment, you could give it a try.  Writing was the only aspect of our homeschool that was truly unstructured, but by the time my kids hit 10th grade, they were all ready for English 101 and were proficient writers.    Still, most parents want more structure.

There is no better curriculum resource than CathyDuffyReviews.  I link to her page all the time because her site is like the Consumer Reports of homeschool curriculum. No matter what variety of curriculum you’re looking for, she’ll have a review for it!

Her list of WRITING curriculum with reviews:

For your “visual learners” and creative students, you might try Writing for Visual Thinkers: A Guide for Artists and Designers by Pearson.

Posted in ACE, Free Tuition, Self-Paced Learning, Sophia, Transfer Credit

Sources of Free College Credits

This fantastic list was put together by a couple members of the InstantCert forum community.  I encourage you to visit the forum if you’re considering distance learning boy1colleges for your teen- it’s the single best resource on the web.

As a homeschooler of high school students, here’s what you should know before you read on:

ALL (but one) of these freebies awards ACE credit.  As such, their transfer is very limited.  If your teen is several years away from high school graduation and selecting a target college, you may want to use these just for fun, and if he gets credit later- that’s a bonus.  You can bundle these together into high school electives too.  But, if you’re getting close to enrollment or you’ve already selected a target college, you’ll want to confirm that they accept ACE credit before investing too much time in these.

See my previous posts on colleges that accept ACE courses for college credit and setting up your teen’s ACE account.


The Institutes (2 college credits)

The American Institute For Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters (commonly referred to as “The Institutes”) offer a free ethics course that is ACE recommended for 2 credits.

  • 312N-H Ethics and the CPCU Code of Professional Conduct (2 credits) – an upper-level ethics/philosophy course that meets TESU‘s General Education “ethics” requirement. (it meets 2 of the 3 credit requirement – you might have to ask for an exception to be made for the last credit, but typically this is automatically granted. The 3rd credit can be made up as a general ed elective).

To signup, use the following link: http://www.theinstitutes.org/comet/learning_modules/cpcu_ethics.htm

Select the FREE option. You should not do the $5 option. The paid option is for “Continuing Education credit,” which is different than college credit. The free version is ACE approved for college credit.


National Fire Academy (2 college credits)

The National Emergency Training Center/National Fire Academy (NFA) offers two free courses that are ACE-recommended for 1 credit each.

  • Q0118 Self-Study Course for Community Safety Educators  (1 credit)
  • Q0318 Fire Service Supervision: Self Study (1 credit)

To signup, use the following link and find these two course codes in the list: Q0118, Q0318: http://apps.usfa.fema.gov/nfacourses/catalog/search?&&forget=true&courseCode=Q

After you are enrolled, use this login URL to take the classes: https://nfa.plateau.com/learning/user/login.jsp


Sophia – Developing Effective Teams (1 credit)

Sophia offers a number of paid ACE-approved courses that are fairly expensive. team2However, they do offer a free 1 credit course:

  • SOPH-0021 – Developing Effective Teams (1 credit)

You can sign up for the course at https://www.sophia.org/online-courses/developing-effective-teams


TEEX Cybersecurity (6 college credits)

Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) offers three ACE-approved courses recommended for 2 credits each. These are DHS/FEMA funded and therefore free for the general public to take.

  • Cyber 101 – Cybersecurity for Everyone (2 credits)
  • Cyber 201 – Cybersecurity for IT Professionals (2 credits)
  • Cyber 301 – Cybersecurity for Business Professionals (2 credits)

To signup, use the following link and make sure you sign up for all classes under these three headings, there are multiple courses per heading: Cyber 101, 201, 301: https://teex.org/Pages/Program.aspx?catID=607

After you are enrolled, use this login URL to take the classes: https://my.teex.org


 

FEMA Independent Study (over 40 college credits)

  • NOTE: FEMA is NOT ACE evaluated for credit.  As such, FEMA IS courses are only acceptable as transfer credit at Charter Oak State College and two other small 2-year colleges.  IF you’re planning to attend COSC, you can fill the ENTIRE lower level elective requirement for an Associate’s of Science (30 cr) an Associate’s of Arts (15 cr) or bachelor’s degrees (30+) using only FEMA.  Cost:  $0 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency operates an online Independent Study program offering approximately 197 courses online for free. Only certain ones are acceptable as transfer credit at Charter Oak State College.

The current list of  FEMA courses worth college credit can be found here.

 

Posted in CLEP, Credit by Exam, High School

Sample High School CLEP Schedule

I love making schedules for our homeschool – I actually love making them more than I like following them.  But, in reality, I think most of us get a sense of satisfaction when we check things off of a list.  I often have a few “leftovers” that get pushed to the next day, which makes me feel so unaccomplished.  If that ever happens to you in your homeschool (can you say 7 out of 10 Lifepacs?) I would suggest you are careful planning your teen’s CLEP schedule.  It’s so easy to get carried away.  (16 CLEP exams next year?  Yeah, that’s too many.)  Additionally, if this is your first year injecting college credit into your homeschool, whatever you were thinking about adding…. cut it way back.  Early success will be like rocket fuel later.  Early failure will be like sugar in the gas tank.


Jennifer’s recommendation:  no more than 2-3 CLEP exams during your first year of earning college credit – no matter what grade your teen is in.

My guinea pig (AKA oldest son) helped me learn that my knowledge and motivation about something is not enough to push everyone to the finish line. I share my mistakes so you can hopefully prevent them with your own kids.  A quick story:  I had just finished CLEP-testing out of an Associate’s of timeArts degree. Over the course of 6 short months, I averaged one CLEP exam every 10 days – while homeschooling my kids-  I had a schedule that worked perfectly (for me) and I was ready to implement CLEP tests into our homeschool immediately.  They weren’t really that hard.  But, my enthusiasm was tempered with homeschooling reality:

LEARNING TAKES TIME

So, before we dive into a schedule, I want to tell you the difference between my CLEPping out of an exam, and the experience of my teens CLEPping:

As an adult, I’d already attended and graduated, from high school.  I had 4 years of slow learning – learning that included lots of reading, writing, researching, quizzes, studying, critical thinking, group discussion, reflection, and TONS of test-taking experience.  I also had about 30+ years of life experience that helped me pass many exams.  (Heck, I was present for some of the content on the US History II exam!)   An adult going into a CLEP exam prep process is pretty straight forward:  memorize, recall, use the process of elimination and life experience, choose the best answer.  It was simple.  But, NOT that simple for my son, and probably not for yours.  (I’ll spare you the disaster that resulted in a lot of frustration,  tears,  yelling, and a failed exam.)  So, when I started our schedule for my son’s second year of homeschooling for college credit, it went SO MUCH BETTER, because I followed a VERY SUCCESSFUL model used in high schools all over the country. I first learned this model as a high school student back in the 80’s, and it’s still in use today. I followed the Advanced Placement model.

Advanced Placement (AP), is a class followed by a college credit exam available to high school students.  Not surprisingly, it’s written by the same makers of the CLEP exam.  Students take it in the spring after about 2/3 of that year’s curriculum has been covered.  The student takes almost an entire course before they ever think about exam prep.  And, students who aren’t successful in the course don’t even have to attempt the exam if they don’t want to.   The exam, if the student takes it, has nothing to do with their AP course grade or high school credit earned.  In fact, AP credit by exam grades don’t even come in until July – well after the student has received their course grade. So, whether or not the student takes, passes, or fails the AP exam has nothing to do with the course grade or credit that led up to that moment.  It is that model that I follow in our homeschool and one that I’d encourage you to consider as well.

100% curriculum + CLEP test prep = Success


WRITE YOUR HIGH SCHOOL SCHEDULE FIRST 

Don’t worry, you can change it – but this really is where you should start.  If you have no idea whatsoever of the subjects you’re going to plan for high school, you can use this very general rule of thumb* as a starting point.  This plan doesn’t include any technology, electives, or other fun stuff – but this is a good starting point.  Adjust as you see fit.

4 years of English  (ex. Language Arts, Composition, Literature)
2–4 years of Math (ex. Algebra, Geometry, Consumer Math, Statistics, Trigonometry)
2–4 years of Science (ex. Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Environmental Science)
2–4 years of History (ex. American, Western Civilization)
at least 2 years of a Foreign Language (ex. Spanish, German, French)

*if your state has a specific high school graduation requirement or subject taught laws, you’ll want to follow those instead.  Some states also distribute a “college-bound” suggested course of study.


CHOOSE YOUR CLEP EXAMS

With a generalized high school schedule, you can start picking specific subjects within each subject area. This is the point where you may want to match your teen’s high school subjects with CLEP subjects!  Here is a current list of all 33 CLEP exams:

English & Literature Exams

Math Exams

Science Exams

History and Social Sciences Exams

Foreign Language Exams

It’s worth noting that some learning is singular, while other learning is cumulative.  To give you an example, singular learning starts and stops within the subject.  You and I could learn everything we needed to know for Introductory Psychology without any prior exposure to the subject.  On the other hand, if we wanted to take the Calculus exam, we would have had to complete all of the math levels leading up to and including Calculus.  That exam requires significant foundational knowledge before learning that subject.  As you select subjects for your high school plan, you can use singular subjects anywhere you want, but cumulative subjects would be saved for later.  The exam links above take you to that exam’s content page so you can peek at what each test’s makeup.

Singular Subjects

Cumulative Subjects

American Literature

English Literature

Biology

Chemistry

American Government

History of the United States I

History of the United States II

Human Growth and Development

Introduction to Educational Psychology

Introductory Psychology

Introductory Sociology

Principles of Macroeconomics

Principles of Microeconomics

Western Civilization I: Ancient Near East to 1648

Western Civilization II: 1648 to the Present

Analyzing and Interpreting Literature

College Composition (w/ essay)

College Composition Modular (w/o essay)

Humanities

College Algebra

College Mathematics

Precalculus

Calculus

Natural Sciences

Social Sciences and History

French Language: Levels 1 and 2

German Language: Levels 1 and 2

Spanish Language: Levels 1 and 2

 

A NOTE ABOUT FOREIGN LANGUAGE EXAMS:  even though it says “Level 1” and “Level 2” it is only one exam that you take one time.  When you take the exam, the strength of your score determines the number of college credits awarded,  so don’t take this exam until AFTER you have significant fluency – multiple years of study.


SAMPLE 9th GRADE SCHEDULE

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 1

U.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!


SAMPLE 10th GRADE SCHEDULE

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.


SAMPLE 11th GRADE SCHEDULE

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 Math

College Algebra

SCIENCE Chemistry Chemistry Natural Sciences

Chemistry

HISTORY Western Civ. I Western Civ. II Western Civ. I

Western 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.


NO SAMPLE 12th GRADE 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?

60

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!kids

Posted in CLEP, Credit by Exam, DSST, Math

Testing out of Math

For the non-mathy majors, you’ll likely only need 3 credits (1 course) in math for an entire bachelor’s degree!  This makes testing out of math extremely appealing (does that mean NO MATH CLASS IN COLLEGE?  Yep! That’s exactly what that means!)  I’m going to list all of the test-out options by their level of difficulty from lowest to highest.

When you find the math your teen needs for their degree (ex. College Algebra) be sure to also grab the maths leading up to that level.  While lower maths may not meet their degree requirement, they’ll frequently count as general education electives!  One final tip, you usually can’t use exam credit to replace a course you’ve failed at a college, and you also won’t get to duplicate credit you’ve already earned at a college.

MATH

DSST Math for Liberal Arts

CLEP College Mathematics

DSST Fundamentals of College Algebra

CLEP College Algebra

CLEP Pre-Calculus

AP Calculus AB

AP Calculus BC

 

STATISTICS

Statistics can, but doesn’t always, count as meeting a math requirement.  It’s still a good exam to consider including anyway because it’s often a requirement for students heading off to graduate school.  Students who have completed Algebra 1 will be well-suited to tackle this material.  I used the Statistics DSST exam to meet my own grad school entrance requirement in 2012 (Thank you, Khan Academy.  They taught me everything I needed to know for that exam).

DSST Principles of Statistics   (all multiple choice)

AP Statistics   (multiple choice and free response)

(these two exams are considered duplicates, so choose one or the other – not both)


 

If this post makes your head spin and stomach drop, you might like my previous math post a little better:  Math Success 4 Math Averse

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Posted in CLEP, Credit by Exam

6 Credit CLEPs

There are 33 CLEP exams.  Most of them are worth 3 college credits, but did you know that 9 of them are worth 6 or more college credits! 

6 credit CLEP exams

College Composition (essay required)
College Mathematics
French Language (up to 9 credits)
German Language (up to 9 credits)
Spanish Language (up to 9 credits)
Social Sciences & History
Biology
Chemistry
Natural Sciences

Benefits of 6 credit exams

  • One advantage of taking a 6 credit exam is that it costs the same as a 3 credit exam.  All CLEP exams, no matter their credit worth, are the same fee.  ($85 effective July 1, 2017)
  • Your budget goes farther.  If you allocate $200 per year of high school for college credit earned, students who selected 6 credit exams will have 54 credits, while students who selected 3 credit exams will have 27 credits.
  • 6 credit exams are worth larger tuition saving.  If your target college charges $350 per credit, each 6 credit exam your teen passes saves you $2,100.
  • 6 credit exams allow you to “max out” on CLEP credit more quickly.  If your target college allows up to 30 CLEP credits, you can accomplish that using only 5 exams vs using 10 of the 3 credit exams.
  • 6 credit exams equate to 1 year of a course, so you have more than 1 year of a subject to complete, you can enter at level 2 (Foreign language is a good example).

    testing

6 credit exams cover more content

6 credit exams cover 1 year of a subject (3 credit exams cover 1 semester) so there is more content to study, but for those students working at the college-prep high school level (as opposed to general or remedial) you’ll find your high school text covers the same content to a lesser degree.

While I don’t want to suggest specific curriculum companies, I do want to use a couple examples that help you understand “how hard” an exam might be, or the scope of it.

Rosetta Stone Spanish (Levels 1 and 2) —> Spanish CLEP exam

Apologia Biology followed by Advanced Biology —> Biology CLEP exam

Saxon Algebra 2 & Khan Academy Probability —> College Math CLEP exam


Not all colleges award 6 credits

Despite these exams covering more content and being ACE evaluated for 6 credits, some colleges still only award 3 credits (of course, some may award none!) It’s your call, but if my teen accumulated 1/2 of a bachelor’s degree in high school by taking CLEP exams, we’d be really motivated to choose the college that awarded him credit for his work.   


Before attempting a 6 credit exam, be sure your student:

  • has an advanced understanding of the basics and a basic understanding of the advanced.
  • has experience reading college level material (usually through textbooks).  Some students find the wording of a CLEP question a little tricky.  They tend to ask a lot of negative questions such as “which one of the following would not be the…..”
  • has taken no fewer than 2 practice tests.   Sources of practice tests include:
    • CLEP Official Guide (1 paper practice test with answer key)
    • REA CLEP (2-3 practice paper / online tests with explanations)
    • FreeCLEPprep.com (1 online practice test with answer key for some exams)
  • Peterson’s  (3 online timed practice tests with instant grading)

    It is my opinion that you’ll need to score 60% -70% on at least 2 TIMED practice tests (3 tests would be better) before attempting the real exam. Never use the same test twice- it won’t be a true score.  Practice tests will not have the actual questions but are representative of the kinds of questions you can expect.


secret

Insider Tip:  many 6 credit exams overlap each other

Experienced college credit test-takers will tell you to get the maximum return on investment (brain investment, that is) you should study for exams that share or overlap content, and then take both exams.  Many of the 6 credit exams lend themselves to this technique, which I’ll share below.

SCIENCE  

Take high school chemistry and high school physics before college-level biology (CLEP). Follow the CLEP Biology test with CLEP Natural Sciences.  The Natural Sciences exam is 50% biology!  The other half includes some essential chemistry and physics that you already covered in high school.

MATH

If your teen is studying for or has passed College Algebra, go back and pick up College Math too.  Even if it’s not the math they need for their degree, it will probably land as a general education elective.

FOREIGN LANGUAGE

If your teen passes one of the foreign language exams with a high enough score, she’ll likely walk away with 9 credits instead of 6!  (cut scores vary by college).  In addition, if your teen earns foreign language credit early enough, or has a knack for languages, there may be time for a second language!  If you’re very sure your teen can master one or more foreign languages in high school, take a moment to read my post about Foreign Language for College Credit

SOCIAL SCIENCE & HISTORY

In the Social Sciences and History exam, it’s really a combo of history, economics, and government.  This exam is a mile wide and an inch deep, so it’s a challenging exam to study for.  Rather than study for this exam directly, my suggestion is to use it after your teen has already taken some or all of these other subjects.  Completing these other exams first will all but assure a solid passing score on Social Science and History with little to no test prep.  NOTE:  this plan below yields 3-4 high school credits and 27 college credits.

YEAR 1

(1) United States History —> CLEP United States History 1 & 2

(2) American Government —> CLEP American Government

YEAR 2

(1)  Western Civilization —> CLEP Western Civ 1 & 2

(2)  Economics —> CLEP Macroeconomics and CLEP Microeconomics

CLEP Social Science and History exam


Downgraded Exams

If you’ve used CLEP in the past with other teens, you may notice a few exams “missing” from the 6 credit list!!  It’s true, in 2015, the following exams were “downgraded” from 6 to 3 credits.

If you happen to have taken one of these exams while it was worth 6 credits, it’s still worth 6 credits for you.  Exam values are determined by the date you took it, not the date you use it. But, for students who take it now, expect 3 credits unless your college awards a different amount.  (Thomas Edison State College still awards 6 credits for all of these)

Humanities  (worth 3 credits now, worth 6 credits before 3/1/2015)

American Literature (worth 3 credits now, worth 6 credits before 3/1/2015)

English Literature (worth 3 credits now, worth 6 credits before 3/1/2015)

Analyzing and Interpreting Literature (worth 3 credits now, 6 credits before 3/1/2015)

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