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 College Admission, High School, working

HELP! My high school graduate doesn’t want to go to college.

If your teen graduated this month without a plan for college, and you’re probably feeling EXCEPTIONAL pressure, especially on Facebook. (you know, where “everyone’s” kids are all starting at fussy universities this fall).  I want to tell you something that’s really important but rarely talked about.

Getting into college isn’t nearly as hard as getting out.

mountain
The journey between high school graduation and college graduation.

That’s worth saying again:  Getting into college isn’t nearly as hard as getting out (with a degree).  Trust me, getting out is the better goal, but soon the buzz will die down, and you won’t hear about the struggles some teens are having, the financial challenges the parents are facing, or the worst possible scenario, their teen dropping out.

In other words, it’s intimidating when “everyone” around you starts college, but that’s only because there is a pervasive myth that tells parents “get your kid into college, and all is well in the world. Your job is done!”

Not so fast.  That’s bunk.

Simply, there is a huge journey between high school graduation and college graduation. It’s filled with pitfalls, redirection, and a lot of debt.   Unless your teen is very motivated, he likely wouldn’t have been successful today had you pushed him forward. That doesn’t mean he won’t be up for it next semester,  next year, in 3 years, or in 5.  But every college graduate will tell you that it was their internal motivation that drove them to complete their degree, not the internal motivation of their parents!  I realize all of this is very uncomfortable to talk about, but I hope you’ll explore with me how we can make your situation work out for the best.  (Did she just suggest I back off?  Maybe a little.)


Everyone is not a college graduate

The National Center for Education Statistics keeps track of all education data on all people (not a small sample of people, all people – this is the real deal!)  I like using data when I’m wrestling a problem because my emotional side and my logical side are sometimes at odds with each other!  Data helps me reel in some of my emotions, and look at a problem logically.   I’ve turned to the latest Educational Attainment Data (2017) and the latest College Enrollment of High School Graduates (2017) to discuss the challenge of “getting out” of college.  Why?  Because many parents may interpret their teen’s lack of motivation today as their own failure. (let’s face it, as homeschoolers, a lot of people are watching our kids and how they turn out – I get that, it’s a real pressure.)

Their data reflects young adults aged 25-29.  I want to walk you through a set of information that I hope you won’t skim past:

  • The percentage who graduated high school or GED:  92%
    • This is important to note because if your teen didn’t graduate high school, they would truly be in the minority of their peers.  In 2015, the graduation rate was only 88%, so as you can see, it’s trending up!  As a high school graduate, they are eligible to apply for college, apprenticeship, military, or begin work.  This accomplishment may not be your endgame, but it is still significant for their success as an adult moving forward.  Count this as a win.
  • The percentage who earned a bachelor’s degree:  35%
    • I bet you thought it was higher.  35% is up from last year!  Last year, it was only 28%.  So, roughly a third have earned a bachelor’s degree.  This is certainly not the majority by a long shot.  In fact, bachelor’s degree holders represent a minority in the United States.  (Master’s degree holders are in an elite club – only 9% of Americans have one!)
  • The percentage of high school students that graduated high school and went directly to college:  69.9%
    • Yep!  You read that right, 70% of high school graduates headed directly to college, but only 35% of those between the ages of 25 and 29 hold a bachelor’s degree.  Let’s build a diagram of how that looks using real students.

2017 educational attainment

 

Now, I know you still want your teen to land in the green “35 graduate college” box, but before we go there, I want to share a bit more data and then we’ll build a real plan.

False starts are expensive

Student loan borrowing data tells us that 94% of those that enter college borrowed money.  The general allowances and caps on government borrowing tell us that a student at year 2 in college has borrowed about $12,000. (I’m being super generalized at this point, and I’m not counting any money the parents borrowed).

slide2

So, while your teen hasn’t started college yet, at least they aren’t among the 33 that started, borrowed, and then dropped out.  That group will have a $125 per month payment for 10 years to repay their loan.  Those students are facing the same uncertainty as the group that didn’t start college – but the difference is that they are doing so with a debt burden on their shoulders.

From statistics and data, we know that student loan debt can be crushing, especially when the student expected to land a high paying job after college graduation, and instead finds themselves without their degree and a monthly debt to repay.


Tip #1  If your teen isn’t the driving force behind going away to college, stay home, pay cash, and don’t leave a paper trail.

Sometimes teens need a push.  Mine have too.  But remember, internal motivation is what drives a teen to complete their degree, so the ultimate win is getting them fired up about building their own plan.  If your teen isn’t the driving force, their potential for finishing a degree away from home is very low.  It is my recommendation that you should still push (a little) but do so in a way that doesn’t create a long-term debt or leave a trail.

A paper trail is a college transcript with 1-2 semesters of mediocre grades followed by a series of “W” and “F” grades.  That is the #1 most common way students leave college when they drop out.   You can avoid this by keeping their work off of a transcript (for now).

ADULT EDUCATION.  The best kind of college classes that are cheap and don’t leave a trail are called “Adult Education” or “Continuing Education” and found at your local community college.  While some of these courses can lead to a license, certification, or credential – that’s not really the point.  The point is for them to get into a classroom where they’ll learn something they’re interested in.  Adult Education courses aren’t graded, and they aren’t part of a financial aid program.  Failure in these courses is inconsequential, there are no grades and no debt.  You simply drop the class.  Future college applications that ask for “all transcripts and grades” does not include Adult Education.

As an example, my local community college offers EMT training as part if a degree program and through the Adult Education program.  Through the degree program, the student must apply, take a placement exam, take pre-EMT courses, earn credits, and earn grades.  A permanent record is created, and the student can use financial aid to pay for the courses.  Through our Adult Education program, a student simply enrolls directly in the EMT course, pays $180 and attends.  Whether the student passes or fails, no grade is recorded.  (no college credit is earned)

Lastly, Adult Education programs exist to meet the needs of adults – so you’ll see a robust blend of personal enrichment (cooking, Spanish, fitness) as well as career growth and development programs (Excel, PhotoShop, Real Estate, Cosmetology, Photography, etc.) that allow a life-work balance.  Adult Ed classes usually just meet one or two nights a week or on weekends, allowing plenty of time for full-time employment.


 Tip #2  Your teen should start full-time employment immediately, and do it at a company that offers tuition benefits.

Full-time work is not a punishment, it’s what adults do!  There is a LOT to be gained from immediate full-time employment.  For some teens, they just need a break from school, so working gives them an opportunity to mature, develop autonomy, and learn about being an adult.  In addition, when a teen works for a company with tuition benefits, they’re tapping into a resource that could pay for their entire degree.  Often an employer that pays tuition expects passing grades.  For the teen that is a good employee and tries hard at work, this outside pressure (from the “real world”) may be enough of an encouragement to work that much harder in school.

I’ve written 2 posts you’ll want to check out if this is the path you’re considering.  I’ve listed 100 employers that should make up your teen’s list of potential employers.

100 Employer / Employee Scholarships

Working During College: Yes or No?


Tip #3  Revisit Homeschooling for College Credit suggestions

You may not realize this, but the credit earning strategies we explore here are applicable to high school graduates too!   If you’ve been a member here for a while, it’s possible that your teen already has some college credit – maybe it was a dual enrollment course, a few CLEP exams, or a Straighterline class.  No matter what they did, if they have even 1 college credit, they’re not behind!  Here is the traditional credit progress schedule:

High School:  0 college credits

Freshman in college:  completes 0-30 college credits (10 classes)

Sophomore in college: completes 31-60 college credits (10 classes)

Junior in college: completes 61-90 college credits (10 classes)

Senior in college:  completes 91-120 college credits (10 classes)

 For those students who aren’t on the competitive admissions track to a prestigious college, or who aren’t pursuing a hands-on trade, it’s easy enough for your student to work full time (see tip #2) and earn credit at home using one of the vendors talked about here.  Read through the tabs above, but I’ll give my personal recommendation for Straighterline BECAUSE they have partnership agreements with colleges that are guaranteed to accept credit, you don’t have to disclose passes/failures, they can be done 100% at home, you can do all general education courses (AA degree) through them, and they frequently have coupons.  (see tip #1).  Furthermore, working on one class at a time, a full time working teen can still complete 1-2 classes per month.  At that rate, your teen is not merely doing, but they are beating the traditional pace of college.

Credit earned non-traditionally through Straighterline, Sophia, CLEP, DSST, ALEKS, Study.com, and others are all valid for 20 years.

College credit earned this way does NOT leave a paper trail.  This kind of credit consists of pass/fail scores.  Failed exams/classes don’t appear on an ACE transcript. 


Tip #4  Make an action plan

Now I’m the one that’s uncomfortable because this tip can cross a little into the “parenting” category, and I’m NOT in the business of telling people how to parent!  Still, making an action plan is a good way to set financial expectations and live at home boundaries for your teen as they navigate into adulthood.  Our second son just graduated high school and is earning his degree as a distance learner, so even though he’s “in college” we still have a very clear action plan for him that covers the next 2 years. Since we expect our children to eventually move out, our action plan always has that in mind.

Action plans include specific tasks either agreed upon by the family or dictated by the parent.  Action plans should have clear and reasonable schedules and goals for everyone. Examples may look something like this:

You have _______ months of working full time before you have to either enroll full time at college, enlist in the military, join the Peace Corps, leave on a mission, start the apprenticeship program, or move into your own apartment.  

While you’re working full time and still living at home, our financial expectation of you is __________________.

We will pay for classes at ____________ as long as you _____________. 

In _____ months, we’ll revisit your goals and decide what to do at that point. 


work

 

Posted in CLEP, College Admission

10 RA Christian Colleges that Accept CLEP

Colleges / Universities on this list are listed in no special order, but are all Regionally Accredited (RA) and have a public CLEP policy (meaning I can find it in one of their publications.)  You can look up colleges using the same tools I use:

(1) Accreditation U.S. Department of Education Accreditation Database

(2)  Search “CLEP” on the College’s website.

Regional accreditation is very important when choosing a dual enrollment college *during high school*  because credit earned at a non-RA college credit rarely transfers into RA colleges.  After your teen graduates high school, choosing an RA or non-RA college is a matter of career direction and personal preference.  Examples of careers that require an RA degree are generally those that require a state-issued license:  Nurse, Medical Doctor, Physician Assistant, Lawyer, CPA, Dietitian, Psychologist, K-12 Teacher, Social Worker, etc.  or that require a master’s degree or higher.  Non-RA college attendance is discouraged on this site as a general policy.

 


1. College of the Ozarks

P.O.Box 17
Point Lookout, MO 65726
Phone: 417-334-6411
http://www.cofo.edu

College of the Ozarks CLEP Policy

Fun fact:  Students here do not pay tuition!  


2. Liberty University

1971 University Blvd
Lynchburg, VA 24502
Phone: 434-582-2000
http://www.liberty.edu

Liberty University CLEP Policy

Fun fact:  This is the largest Christian university in the world!


3.  Eastern Nazarene College

23 E Elm Ave
Quincy, MA 02170-2999
Phone: 617-745-3000
http://www.enc.edu

Eastern Nazarene College CLEP Policy

Fun fact:  All children of pastors or missionaries receive a $5000 grant each year.


 

4.  Texas Christian University

2800 S University Dr
Fort Worth, TX 76129
Phone: 817-257-7000
http://www.tcu.edu

Texas Christian College CLEP Policy

Fun fact:  Accumulating 30 CLEP credits will save $58,000 at this college.


5.  Bob Jones University

1700 Wade Hampton Boulevard
Greenville, SC 29614
Phone: 864-242-5100
http://www.bju.edu

Bob Jones University CLEP Policy

Fun fact:  High school students can take online dual enrollment courses at 50% tuition.


6.  Northwest University

5520 108th Ave NE
Kirkland, WA 98083-0579
Phone: 425-822-8266
http://www.northwestu.edu

Northwest University CLEP Policy

Fun fact: High school students can earn an Associate degree in Ministry Leadership online. 


7.  Biola University

13800 Biola Ave
La Mirada, CA 90639-0001
Phone: 562-903-6000
http://www.biola.edu

Biola University CLEP Policy

Fun fact:  Students can apply up to 32 CLEP credits toward their degree. 


8.  Cedarville University

251 N. Main Street
Cedarville, OH 45314-0601
Phone: 937-766-2211
http://www.cedarville.edu

Cedarville University CLEP Policy

Fun fact:  High school students can take online dual enrollment courses for $150 per credit (free through PSEO for Ohio residents).


9.  Oklahoma Christian University

P.O. Box 11000
Oklahoma City, OK 73013-1100
Phone: 405-425-5000
http://www.oc.edu

Oklahoma Christian University CLEP Policy

Fun fact:  Average student teacher ratio is 13:1


10.  Oral Roberts University

7777 S Lewis
Tulsa, OK 74171
Phone: 918-495-6161
http://www.oru.edu

Oral Roberts University CLEP Policy

Fun fact:  Students can complete 60 credits (50% of their degree) by CLEP and AP!


 

Posted in College Admission, Community college, Dual Enrollment, Uncategorized

Community College in the News

NPR Want to Finish College?

Did anyone read The Center for Community College Student Engagement Report 2017? Maybe not, but you may have read about it on NPR’s website this morning.  If you have the time, you can read the quick summary linked above.  I’m going to take a moment and share my thoughts, which I think other Homeschooling for College Credit parents may find useful.

“Center for Community College Student Engagement demonstrates that students who enroll full-time in community colleges fare better than their part-time counterparts…50 percent of always-full-time students earned an associate degree or certificate. In contrast, only 23 percent of always-part-time students complete their degrees.”

The community college was my employer for 18 years.  I worked for the largest district in the state of Iowa, first as a department chair and administrator, and later when I started homeschooling, as a community college teacher.  Some of you may remember reading in Homeschooling for College Credit, that I was confused by the lack of love for the community college system- it serves a lot of people from all walks of life.  In fact, if you’ve followed our Facebook Group, you know that I have a lot of great things to say about the community college as a system.  That being said…..

The community colleges seem a little out of touch lately with their role in the education industry and seem to be having a bit of an identity crisis.

“Probably for over a decade now, there’s been a lot of conversation about getting more students to complete community college,” says Evelyn Waiwaiole, executive director for the Center for Community College Student Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin. “While attending full-time will be unrealistic for every student, we need to think about why always-part-time students are having a qualitatively different experience and push for changes to be made.”

Here’s what she didn’t say- community college completion rates are somewhere around 8-12% depending on what source you reference. These rates make upper administration lose their minds- and I get it, they want to see higher numbers like those of a 4-year college (about 50-65% which is still pretty low), but what if they’re worried about the wrong thing?  Not everyone uses the community college to earn an Associate of Arts degree!

Community colleges serve a purpose.  They are open enrollment, which is to say that no matter your academic ability, they’ll let you sign up to learn something.  Whether you take courses for credit or personal enrichment, you’re allowed to register.  If you don’t have the required credentials or prerequisite test scores to take certain courses, they’ll provide those too.  Community colleges provide an avenue to earn a GED as well as many quick-employment certificates that can lead to immediate job training.  IN ADDITION, they also award Associate degrees.  

degree

It is my opinion that upper administration has lost sight of their role in our community, and has really started to push for all their students to earn an Associate degree.  Yet, an Associate degree doesn’t always transfer to a 4-year college (depends on your state) and an Associate degree isn’t always an efficient route to a career (ex. Real Estate License requires completing a course, not a degree) and an Associate degree is usually full of general education courses- the very courses students complain about.

The report and summary go on to argue that when students attend full time vs part time, that they’re more likely to complete a degree (this shouldn’t shock anyone) so we should encourage all students to attend full time!  This was the best-dressed marketing effort I’ve read this year.  Of course, colleges want your student to attend full time, of course, they do.  You don’t need an economics lesson from me to tell you why community colleges want to increase their enrollment or why 4-year colleges think you should skip community college and head right to their front door.

EVERYONE is fighting for your student and the dollars they bring. EVERYONE wants enrollment.

So, what does this mean for homeschooling families who want to know where the community college fits into their high school?  I want to point out some reasons that I think the community college is worth your consideration.  This isn’t an apologetics piece, but it’s not a criticism either- it’s simply my thoughts and opinion on how to use the community college in high school and after graduation.


 

For homeschooled high school teens:

  1. DUAL ENROLLMENT.  It’s the community college is the most likely college to allow dual enrollment participation for your teen.  While a few private colleges offer this option, but those programs tend to have competitive admissions or restrictive summer programs.  Community college dual enrollment allows full semester enrollment that awards college credit alongside the high school credit awarded by the parent.
  2. VARIETY:  Dual enrollment through the community college is broader than that of a 4-year college, and includes liberal arts as well as career and trade occupational courses- reflective of the kinds of degree programs offered at the college.
  3.  NON-CREDIT:  The community college closest to you offers a nice catalog of non-credit options.  These are perfectly compatible with homeschooling and can be used as a full curriculum.  Best of all, non-credit options do not require the student to “apply” to the college, rather they simply “register” for the course.  Examples you’ll probably find locally include full sequences of foreign languages, computer programs, and even those that lead to licensure or certifications (property management, real estate, nursing assistant, EMT, and others)  The entrance requirement is usually “age 16” however exceptions can sometimes be made.
  4. TUITION BREAKS:  Some states have community college (or public 4-year college) funding that allows high school students to take courses for free or reduced tuition.  Call your local community college to see if your state has this program.
  5. DISTANCE LEARNING:  Community colleges have really embraced distance learning and a number Homeschooling for College Credit families use community colleges from all over the country.  In other words, you can live in any state and take advantage of the super-low tuition offered through New Mexico’s community college system (about $40/credit).
  6. TESTING CENTER:  If you’re looking for a CLEP or DSST testing center, it’s probably at your community college.  Typically, community colleges have lower proctoring fees than the 4-year colleges.
  7. TRANSFER-FRIENDLY:  Universities in your state almost always all dual enrollment and summer credit earned in high school to transfer to their university.  If they don’t, it’s probably because they don’t accept transfer credit as a general policy, not because of the community college.
  8. PRESERVING FRESHMAN SCHOLARSHIPS:  Credit earned while enrolled in high school almost never counts “against” freshman status, leaving your teen eligible for freshman scholarships.  Typically, the credit earned during high school is applied once the student is already enrolled and sometimes after completion of the first semester.  In other words, they enroll as a freshman, and after 1 semester may be bumped to a sophomore or junior.
  9. HIGHER LEVEL COURSES:  If your teen finishes calculus or French 4 by sophomore year in high school, you’re probably going to have a hard time locating a suitable higher level course.  For those students, it makes sense to enroll in the community college and access no only college credit, but classes at a higher level.

For homeschool graduates:

  1. OPEN ENROLLMENT:  The community college will enroll your homeschool graduate.  The entire “college application process” can be removed from your equation, and your teen can simply register for classes.  In the case of not meeting a certain benchmark for a certain class, the community college will provide a pathway to make it happen.  For instance, if your teen never finished Algebra 1, never took the SAT, and struggles through math, they can still enroll.  There are no essays, interviews, SAT scores, letters of reference, etc.  The college welcomes all students and places them in the level they need, even if the level is lower than “college level.”
  2. TRANSCRIPT ACCEPTANCE:  You can be sure that your homeschool transcript will be accepted at your community college.
  3. LAST MINUTE ENROLLMENT:  Applying a year ahead of enrollment is great if you have a target college in mind, but community colleges allow application and enrollment even through the first week of classes- assuming there is space.
  4. ENTRANCE TESTING:  The majority of community colleges offer their own entrance test at no charge.  This test, taken on your own schedule, is to assess writing, reading, and math level.  There is no way to “fail” this test, though doing well is obviously better for your student.  Students who have taken high school tests like ACT or SAT can sometimes use those in place of entrance testing.
  5. CLEP/AP/DSST AWARDS:  The majority of community colleges award college credit by exam for CLEP, AP, and DSST.  While policies vary, it is unusual that they would award little to nothing (if that’s the case, pick a different community college).
  6. ACCREDITATION:  Community colleges are all regionally accredited, that is the gold standard.  Note that not all 2-year colleges are community colleges and not all 4-year colleges are regionally accredited!
  7. ARTICULATION:  About half of the states have articulation agreements in place, which are formal contractual agreements between the community college and the state’s public colleges.  These agreements guarantee transfer of certificates, diplomas, degrees, or courses.  It’s also worth emphasizing that about half of the states don’t have articulation agreements, but if yours does, this is a huge bonus.
  8. GED / HIGH SCHOOL EQUIVALENCY: If your student wants a GED, prep courses and advisement are available (almost always for free) through your community college. Most community colleges offer the exam as well.  In addition, some of the new high school equivalency exams are worth 10 college credits.
  9. CERTIFICATES:  Unlike a 4-year university, community colleges have “bite-sized” programs that issue certificates or certification after as few as 1 class.  These are usually directed toward job training or a specialization (forklift certification, graphic design, etc.)  Sometimes, the classes inside of a certificate will transfer into a larger diploma or degree at the same college.
  10. TERMINAL DEGREES:  The term “terminal degree” means that the degree has an ending point, in other words, there is not education beyond the terminal degree.  Often, you’ll hear a Ph.D. referred to as a “terminal degree” because there is no degree higher, but at a community college, Associate of Applied Science and Associate of Occupational Studies are also terminal degrees.  These degrees are not intended to transfer to a 4-year college, the degree is the highest training in that industry, and at the completion of the degree, the student enters their career. Besides an AA or AS degree, almost every degree at the community college is a terminal degree.
  11. STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICES:  Unlike 4-year colleges, a community college sees a huge population that needs special support.  Whether it’s simple tutoring or accommodating a diagnosed disability, the community college is excellent at serving this segment of our population.
  12. AGE LIMITS:  Community colleges serve students from age 10-100 and attending classes on campus will likely expose your teen to people of all ages.  While the 4-year colleges serve the traditionally aged student (17-22), it’s not unusual to see a huge age range in any community college classroom.  We have Homeschooling for College Credit families with very young teens taking classes (as young as 12) and as a teacher, I’ve had retired senior citizens in my classes- they were some of my best students!
  13. COST:  Community college is almost always the lowest cost option for traditional college attendance.  The average cost of tuition at a community college is $100 per credit, so an average course (3 credits) will cost you roughly $300 plus books.  While this is a lot more expensive than some of the methods we talk about here (CLEP, AP, DSST, Straighterline, Saylor, etc.) those cost saving methods are alternatives that aren’t good options for everyone.  On your basic English 101 taken on campus with an instructor, your community college is likely to be your most affordable option.  As such, you should know community colleges WANT you to stay local.  They often hike the prices beyond belief when you are out of the district or out of state.  If you can’t attend your local community college, all cost promises are off the table.
  14. PELL GRANTS = FREE TUITION:  A Pell Grant is a financial need-based grant given to eligible students who have filled out the FAFSA financial aid application.  Grants don’t have to be repaid, so if your student qualifies for a Pell Grant, it will absolutely go the farthest at your community college.  Some quick math- a full Pell Grant award in 2017 is $5,575.00  That means, if your teen qualifies and attends college full time, they should receive $5,575.00  If you divide that by the number of credits you’d complete as a full-time student in 1 year (30), you’ll get $185.83.  That means, that your student’s Pell Grant will pay full tuition if your college’s per credit rate is under $185.83!  (know that the average in-state 4-year university charges about $300 per credit, and the average private 4-year university charges about $1100 per credit!)

Referenced:  Center for Community College Student Engagement 2017 National Report

 

Posted in CLEP, College Admission, High School

We just saved $96,780

I have to share my correspondence with one of our Minnesota members. She has graciously agreed to let me post it here:

“With CLEP and PSEO (dual enrollment), I just calculated we are saving $96,780 at the University of Northwestern St. Paul.

1/3 of that is in CLEP alone: 32 credit hours, which is about $30,260. Then, two years free through dual enrollment which is another $30,260 X 2 =$60,520.  

We are saving far more money by CLEPping and dual enrollment than we could get in scholarships.  -Carol Lang Frisk


She’s not exaggerating, I pulled the numbers to share with you.  

It’s -seriously- phenomenal.  Read on…


2017–18 Tuition & Fees 

The University of Northwestern St. Paul

  1. Tuition……………………………………………..$30,260
  2. Room………………………………………………….$5,570
  3. Meal Plan……………………………………………$3,700
  4. Technology Fee……………………………………..$260
  5. Health Services Fee……………………………….$124
  6. Activity Fee……………………………………………..$150
  7. Personal Expenses** …………………………..$2,120
  8. Books & Supplies** ………………………………..$600
  9. Transportation**…………………………………….$620

TOTAL …………………………………..$43,404

 

It’s worth noting that the green items with ** indicate variable expenses you can control to some degree.  (Does anyone else think the college has under-estimated the cost of books?)  So, to be fair, let’s round down to $40,000 per year- just the cost Carol’s family will be BILLED.  

Without smart planning, Carol and her daughter may have wandered onto campus and signed up for a $160,000 degree!  Thankfully, she’ll found a way to bring that cost down closer to $40,000.


Secondary savings and benefits gained by Carol’s plan:

  • In addition to reducing tuition cost, this family will cut items #2- #9 on the list by at least two years!  She won’t have to pay the meal plans, health services fees, technology fees, etc. if she’s not there!

  • A scholarship, while saving cost, doesn’t save TIME.   Injecting college credit in high school is extra work, but it is saving this student a full 2 years off the TIME it takes to finish her degree.  

  • Graduating 2 years earlier than her peers puts her into her career 2 years earlier, thus accelerating her ability to earn a supporting salary.

  • If entering the workforce isn’t in the immediate future, she has time to travel, volunteer, serve, or attend graduate school while her peers finish their undergraduate degree.

  • If she does take out a student loan, she’ll begin repayment 2 years earlier than if she attended a full 4 years- which saves 2 years worth of interest.

  • The average in-state public college costs about $40,000 for 4 years- they’ve found a way to attend a private college for the same price.

  • Using CLEP exams allowed Carol to choose appropriate homeschool curriculum that aligned with their family values while earning college credit. 

  • Using CLEP exams allowed Carol’s daughter to move quickly through subjects she easily understood, and spend more time on those that gave her trouble. 

  • Using CLEP exams and dual enrollment allowed Carol’s family to make credit accumulation a “pay-as-you-go” situation, which is ultimately the most affordable option for many parents.


How much did they spend?  What exams did she take?


 

Carol shared that her daughter earned 45 CLEP credits, but this college only awards credit for 32.  Here’s her list, cost, and reward:

16 credits Spanish CLEP ($100)   This college awards up to 16 credits for the Spanish CLEP exam but requires the student to pass a second college based test for verification.  This will give her credit in Spanish I, II, III, and IV.  (note: most colleges award up to 9 credits)

4 credits World Religions DSST ($100)  DSST is nearly identical to CLEP.

4 credits College Composition CLEP ($100)

4 credits Western Civilization CLEP ($100) 

1 credit Here’s to Your Health DSST ($100) 

3 credit (CLEP) to be determined ($100)

TOTAL INVESTMENT:  $600


Parents who inject CLEP exams into their homeschool by using it as a “final exam” don’t really have that much extra added cost- they’re buying curriculum anyway, so the risk is in paying for an exam.  Currently, CLEP exams cost $80 but a testing center typically charges about $20 for proctoring services, so it’s safest to budget $100 per exam.

Since exams usually award 3-6 credits, the $100 investment is well worth the risk!  You’d have to fail the CLEP exam 5 or 6 times before it’s more expensive than the college class.


Have you thought about using CLEP or DSST to help offset college costs for your teen?  If so, what’s your strategy?  Do you have tips for getting the biggest bang for your buck? Share them below!


Reader D.M. sent me this lovely note:

“Hi. I just wanted to share a story with you. I have struggled to get my almost 15yo daughter interested in taking CLEP exams. This has recently changed! She is now obsessed with preparing. What has changed? She started the Dave Ramsey financial curriculum and I forwarded the blog post you wrote about Carol Lang Frisk. She is now hoping to take and pass three exams this summer. I hope this inspiration continues!” 

Posted in College Admission, High School, Self-Paced Learning

Trending: Non-College Learning

Old-School, MOOCs, Coding Bootcamps, and now MissionU

Depending on the age of your teens, your techno-savviness, and how closely you follow educational trends, some of this may already be old news…. but, hold onto your chalk, the landscape of higher education is changing, and it’s happening FAST!

Higher Education in the USA hadn’t changed much for centuries.  That’s no exaggeration.  First, we had Harvard (1636), and then about a hundred years later we had a few public universities, and then almost two hundred years later we got our first community college (Joliet Jr. College in Illinois was founded in 1901).  If you were a young person growing up at that time, the line between a college educated man and one who wasn’t was clear and thick.  If you were “smart enough” and “had means” you applied to college.  Remember that during the early 1900’s it wasn’t even expected that you’d graduate high school, so college was an exceptionally high aspiration for that time in history; college was an enormous privilege.  

In fact, it wasn’t until late 1960’s that we hit a national high school graduation rate of 50%!

Even at the turn of the new millennium, fewer than 25% of adults held a bachelor’s degree…. but, close to 80% held a high school diploma with some amount of college.  Wow! What a huge spike!   Since I’m not an academic researcher, I won’t pretend to know all of the influences that contributed to that spike, however, if you’re near my age, you were raised by baby boomers and undoubtedly heard the same message I did:

“Go to college so you’ll get a good job.”

The message was loud and clear, so much so, that people in my generation headed to college in very large numbers.  If you’re in my generation and didn’t go to college (so you’ll get a good job) you’ve still probably told your own children zillion times that they must go to college (so they’ll get a good job) and it should be pursued at all costs.  It’s deeply ingrained!  But is it still the right advice?


The reason for the quick history lesson is to demonstrate the growth pace of higher education from 1600’s to 1700’s (like a turtle) and then to the 1800’s (same turtle) and then to the 1900’s (same old tired turtle).  From 1900 to 2000 our turtle gets spunky, but from 2000 to 2017?  He’s pretty much got a jet engine strapped to his back.

When old-fashioned correspondence courses were replaced by computer-based distance learning around 2000, everything changed.   Within only 5 years- the industry computermanaged to get a handle on delivering legitimate and accredited courses through roughly 98% of all public colleges and universities, and by the end of the first decade, you could even attend public K-12 online.   For our children, the “go to college” message is very strong, but our children are more resourceful and capable of attaining an education than we could have ever imagined.  With access to information only a click away, our teens expect education to be free, streaming, and shareable.  They expect technologically capabilities that remove inefficiencies – and there are more than a few inefficiencies in the “traditional” college experience.

Some estimate that just under half of all college students will take at least one online course during the completion of their degree, but millions will take courses that are both free and do not offer college credit.  MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) have tapped into the deep desire for education without the inefficiencies of going to a building somewhere to learn.  Coursera, a large provider of MOOCs, had educated over 5 million students by 2013.  Wrapped into the MOOCs providers are all of the “brand name” university partners you could ever dream of:  Stanford, MIT, Harvard, etc.  Students have access, the courses are free, the courses are streamable, and the courses are shareable.  If the course is poor, the student simply drops and chooses something else.  If the course fills a need for the student, they can dive in and “binge-watch” an entire semester in a weekend!

Students who’ve grown up in the world of non-traditional education (homeschool), with instant access to free content, and a solid awareness of how to access ANYTHING they want to learn, technology is part of their world in a way that hadn’t existed before Placeholder Imagethis millennium.  Is it so impossible to accept that this generation of teens has a different understanding of what education means?  When my children & teens want to know something, they usually Google it.  (YES!  I still taught them how to use an encyclopedia.)  When they’re stuck on an algebra problem, it’s Khan Academy that patiently explains and demonstrates with perfect clarity who to solve the equation.  It’s Professor Martyn Poliakoff at The University of Nottingham who taught my teens about elements of the Periodic Table.  Frankly, our students can access experts in every field through their computer, something unimaginable even 20 years ago.

It’s no surprise that non-college-based learning has developed at an astounding rate.  It’s also no surprise, that there are wrinkles in the cloth.  While a few bad apples spoil the bunch, a uniquely new trend is the “coding boot camp.”  These programs are not affiliated with colleges, eliminate liberal arts and other “college” courses, and get right to the training.  In short, it’s a fast program meant to train coders and get them working asap.  Coding boot camps are almost never longer than 6 months, and graduates of good programs find (high paying) jobs quickly.  It’s hard to argue “go to college, get a good job” confused.jpgwhen colleges graduates are leaving college after 4-6 years with $35,000-$200,000 in student loans and a staggering unemployment rate.  Less than 20% will graduate in 4 years, and about 50% will leave with the debt but not a degree.  The average cost of a coding boot camp lasts about 4 months, costs about $15,000 and graduates can expect to walk into jobs paying around $80,000.  To recap, by the time my high school senior leaves for college in the fall, his classmate may have already finished boot camp and moved to Silicon Valley.

“Go to college so you’ll get a good job.”

Did I mention things are changing at lightning speed?  In an article by CNN Money earlier this week, a new “university” that isn’t really a university at all, just entered the playing field and may be a game-changer.  MissionU has merged the concept of coding boot camp (fast-relevant teaching) with significant industry input  (Spotify, Uber, Caper, Lyft, Facebook, Chegg founders built the curriculum) and the debt-free mentality into a new program that launches later this year.  MissionU is a “learn now, pay later” concept that takes a percentage of your salary once you graduate, but only if you earn more than $50,000 per year.  Students who graduate but do not meet that threshold will never have to pay anything.  The concept, in my humble opinion, is brilliant, because it forces educators to put their money where their mouth is.  This is a significant shift towards a model of shared responsibility.  The school is sharing the responsibility of the student, in essence, they promise to deliver a product “or your money back.”

The traditional college experience is filled with snake pits and makes little to no effort to help students and parents navigate the system.  In fact, colleges offer dozens of majors that lead to high debt and unemployment- it’s on you not to choose one.   I’ll stop short of speaking too harshly because students and parents should take more responsibility before dropping a quarter of a million dollars on their education, but I’ll just finish by saying that colleges are not financially motivated to help your student avoid those mistakes, and it is very hard to get good advice that holds your teen’s best interests at heart.

In closing, the purpose of today’s post is to warn parents in my generation, that what we “know” and “trust” to be true about the “best” and “most direct” path to a rewarding career looks different than when we were pondering our own path.  Our trust and confidence are based on a foundation that is shaky and being redesigned before our eyes.  To say that the education industry has been disrupted is an understatement- it’s completely being revolutionized.  In fact, I can’t even begin to imagine where we’ll be in 6 years when my youngest sets out on this journey for himself.  I’d like to leave you with 3 tips to help you navigate this process:

  1. Work backward.  Start with a target career, and then build a plan to achieve the skills and credentials to practice that career.  The most common mistake is choosing a college before a career plan is devised.  Until you know the exact pathway required (including licenses, certifications, degrees, etc.) to practice the career, you may be wasting valuable time and money.
  2. Constant retraining is expected.  Years ago, one trained for a career and their value as an employee came from their years of experience.  In today’s market, constant retraining is expected.  As such, it doesn’t make sense to invest “everything” in an undergraduate degree that serves to “check the box” while more education, certifications, and credentials will all be expected to remain current and competitive.
  3. Be open minded.  As we’ve seen in the past 17 years, the educational landscape has changed significantly, and the only thing we can be sure of is that more change is coming!

students

Posted in College Admission, Dual Enrollment, High School

Predicting Credit Placement

College subjects are not treated equally. In this post, we’ll predict where your teen’s English 101 or Management CLEP should fall once they go to college.  This is important because choosing college courses for your teen to take while in high school can be a little overwhelming, and this piece of the puzzle will help you tremendously.

This list is a general guide to help you understand where your teen’s college credit accumulated in high school might fall once they go to college.  Note:  if your teen is already enrolled in college or is certain of the college they’ll attend, disregard this list and ask the college directly.  This is a guide for those 1 or more years away from enrollment.

If you want to read a one of my earlier posts  about how courses become accepted for credit,  see my post on Linked in called “Will it Transfer?” Jennifer on LinkedIn

Lets proceed as if the credit has been accepted into the college.  A typical FILTER process  looks something like this:

  1. Accepted Credit

    • All credit that has been accepted starts here.  This may include CLEP, AP, dual enrollment, or transfer credit.  Courses must be 100 level or equalivent.
  2. Degree Distribution Directive

    • In every degree, there are some directives that are vague- it may ask for “6 credits in social science” or it may be specific “3 credits Psychology and 3 credits US History.”  In every case, credit is first evaluated to see if it meets one of the directives for the degree.  Once a slot is full, credit overflows to the next filter below.
  3. General Education Elective

    • The number of general education electives vary by college, but can be as many as 30 or more.  General Education Electives are made up of courses also known as LIBERAL ARTS.  It is unusual for a non-liberal arts course to count as a General Education Elective, but this can vary by school.  Once GE Electives are full, credit overflows to the next filter below.
  4. Free / Open Electives

    • Not all colleges or degrees have openings called Free or Open Electives.  If yours does, this is a “catch all” category that includes all overflowed credit as well as credit that was accepted by the college, but but didn’t fill any of the requirements of the degree.  Non-liberal arts courses that don’t meet the earlier filters all overflow here.  Some degrees deliberately allow for a lot of free electives to encourage adult students to return to college.

TIPS for 4-YEAR BACHELOR OF ARTS/ SCIENCE degree seekers:  As you see in the filter process, accumulating a lot of non-liberal arts credit before you’ve selected a school or degree can be risky later – as a rule of thumb for high school students who plan to earn a 4 year degree, take no more than 1 non-liberal arts course for every 2 liberal arts courses.  This ratio will make for optimum transfer.

Tips for ASSOCIATE OF APPLIED SCIENCE degree seekers:  It’s likely that your degree will require no more than 15 general education courses.  If possible, your best bet is to no accumulate more than 6 credits in any one liberal arts category.  For instance, no more than 6 credits of history.  The majority of your degree will consist of degree-specific courses, so you don’t need a lot of liberal arts/gen eds.

Tips for ASSOCIATE OF ARTS  seekers:  Most of the AA degrees consist entirely of liberal arts courses.  As such, choose only courses from the liberal arts list.


The following subjects are usually classified as LIBERAL ARTS

Social Science
Art / Fine Art
Advanced Writing
Communication
Dance
Film
Foreign Languages
Journalism
Literature
Music
Philosophy
Photography
Religion
Speech
Theater
Astronomy
Biology
Chemistry
Environmental Sciences
Geology
Mathematics / Statistics
Meteorology
Physics
Anthropology
Archaeology
Economics
Geography
History
Political Science
Psychology
Sociology

The following subjects are usually NOT classified as LIBERAL ARTS

Automotive / Engine / Body / Machine
Allied Health / Dental
Aviation
Business / Accounting
Computer Technology
Data Processing
Education
Electronics
Engineering/Engineering Technology
Finance
Fire Science
Health Education / PE / Fitness
Health Services /  Medical Assistant
Home Economics / Culinary Arts
Insurance
Library Science
Management / Business /Human Resources
Marketing / Sales / Advertising / Graphic Design
Nursing / Nursing Assistant
Operations Management
Radiologic Technology
Radio-Television
Real Estate
Recreation / Coaching / Sport / Leisure
Rehabilitation Services / Counseling
Secretarial Science / Administrative Assistant
Social Work / Counseling
Technical Services / Repair

Student Success / Study Skills / Intro to College / Orientation