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

$2000 Bachelor’s Degrees in NC

“My son is taking all his classes for 12th grade at the community college, he will be graduating in May with both his high school diploma from our homeschool and associates degree from our local community college” 

-Jayne L., North Carolina homeschooling parent.

The topic of today’s post is targeted toward our North Carolina families, but the takeaway isn’t that you should relocate to North Carolina, it’s that in almost every state there are strategies you can build around the resources you have available to you.  I know many non-NC adults who “hacked” their education and earned AA or BA degrees for pennies on the dollar (I’m on that list!)  For the motivated, there are a lot of ways to save money, but this post is my deconstruction and then reconstruction of the resources in NC, assembled in a way that maxes out the benefits available to parents.

I like to point out that I volunteer at our county’s library as a college planning expert.  Several times per year I give homeschooling for college credit presentations, championing the educational benefits available to those in North Carolina .  10 times out of 10, a parent will tell me they had no idea these resources were available to their teen, and that their teen could complete a degree this way instead of earning an academic scholarship, or taking on a lot of student loan debt.  Nevermind the opportunity to oversee the process while their teen is still living at home instead of sending them away to college and hoping their college advisors are good stewards of your teen’s time and money.

In short, make it your mission to find the programs in your state, and build a ladder that takes advantage of each and every one- then share that ladder with others.  The more brainpower we have working the problem, the greater we all benefit!

College costs:  Tuition, books, fees, meals, housing, and transportation.  No matter what your teen is doing, they have to live somewhere and eat something.  Sure, they can do that on campus and in a cafeteria, but my advice is that they live and eat at home.  I also like to rent textbooks or buy used editions whenver possible.

You have to plan ahead

Starting in high school, the homeschool parent has the option of bringing college credit into their high school -but since each parent acts as their teen’s guidance counselor, sometimes they don’t know what they don’t know.  Parents are great at high school planning, but may not understand dual enrollment planning.  In high school, the Career and College Promise advisor can help you with dual enrollment, but they aren’t great at helping with degree planning.  In community college, the advisors can help you with your AA/AS degree, but they aren’t great at helping you plan your BA/BS.  At a 4 year university, the advisors can help you earn your BA/BS, but they can’t go back in time to correct the inefficiencies from 1-2-3-4 years earlier.

There is no ONE PERSON IN THE SYSTEM that can advise for your teen from 10th grade through college graduation.  You have to take on the role of guidance counselor – Each employee has their niche, but the only common thread is YOU!  No one cares about the efficiency or cost or time or completion of your teen’s college degree more than you.  There are a lot of moving parts in the process.  BUT,  with a bit of planning and adjusting as your teen advances, they’ll get out the other end with a degree.


High School (Grades 9 & 10)

So, first things first, grades 9 & 10 must be academically robust enough that your teen can test into College Algebra and into College Composition.  In North Carolina, our high school students all have access to a state-wide dual enrollment program called Career & College Promise.  Each of the 58 community colleges has programs (called Pathways) available to your teen, some starting in 9th grade, but most start in 11th grade.  To complete the $2000 Bachelor’s degree, your teen needs to start taking courses in their AA Transfer Pathway or AS Transfer Pathway in fall (August) of 11th grade.

What age?  In NC, dual enrollment isn’t based on age, it’s based on grade.  The homeschool parent gets to decide when their teen is ready for 11th grade.

For teens headed to a 4-year college, taking advantage of the AA Transfer Pathway or the AS Transfer Pathway is a tuition-free way to earn unlimited college credit in high school. (you read that correctly- unlimited)  This is the key component of the $2000 Bachelor’s Degree.  In NC, students choosing one of the Transfer Pathways must meet placement test benchmarks.  If your teen doesn’t meet the benchmark, they can still take college classes, but they won’t be able to follow the plan in this post.  Your teen must take the Accuplacer exam in the middle or end of 10th grade.  If they don’t earn a high enough score, they can retest, but they can’t start until they hit the benchmark. Unlike an SAT or ACT, you can take an Accuplacer anytime you want and as many times as you want- the first time is free.  Simply call your closest NC Community College and schedule it with the testing center.

(Note:  if your teen has already taken the PSAT, SAT, Pre-ACT, ACT, Compass, Asset, PLAN, or NCDAP, your teen’s score may already be high enough to meet this benchmark- ask your local community college’s Career & College Promise coordinator for more help.) 

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High School (Grades 11 & 12)

Grade 11 (FALL) is when your teen must begin their pathway courses.  Your teen will have access to 3 semesters as an 11th grader (fall, spring, summer) and 3 more as a 12th grader (fall, spring, summer).  A pathway consists of about 30 credits and will fit inside of their associate degree, which will fit inside a bachelor’s degree.  Use this for visual reference:

AA Transfer Pathway (30) –> AA Degree (60) –> BA Degree (120)

or

AS Transfer Pathway (30) –> AS Degree (60) –> BS Degree (120)

No matter which community college you use for Career and College Promise classes, the pathway requirements are set at the state level, so “where” they take their classes doesn’t change the process.  Note that your teen is allowed to take pathway classes at any college, it doesn’t have to be your closest campus.  And, the entire AA and AS pathway can be completed online as a distance learning student – so they don’t need to go to campus to take their courses!

“We used two different community colleges and almost a third. One had stronger English and math instructors while the other’s strong suit was history and sociology. The third – CPCC – has a phenomenal online program.”

-Yvonne, Homeschooling for College Credit North Carolina Facebook Moderator

An important point when planning your teen’s courses, it is possible to complete the full AA or AS degree in high school, however, your teen can’t take courses “off-pathway” until they’ve done the entire pathway.  That means, no matter how much your teen wants to take a second psychology course, they won’t have access to the college catalog until every course on the Transfer Pathway has been “checked off.”  The goal is to get off-pathway as efficiently and quickly as possible.

Pathway courses can be completed using community college courses, AP exams for college credit, or CLEP exams for college credit.  Not all NC community colleges apply exam credit the same way- shop around!

If you’re aiming for the most efficient schedule, your teen should enroll accordingly:

  • FALL 11th GRADE:  12-15 credits (4-5 pathway classes)
  • SPRING 11th GRADE:  12-15 credits (4-5 pathway classes)
  • SUMMER between 11th/12th GRADE: 3-6 credits (1-2 pathway/degree classes)
  • FALL 12th GRADE:  12-15 credits (4-5 degree classes)
  • SPRING 12th GRADE:  12-15 credits (4-5 degree classes)

Parents often consider ways to use CLEP or AP exams to either lighten a teen’s course load or accelerate the pathway/degree process.  Keep in mind that CLEP and AP exams cost just under $100 each, so there is an added cost to using these, however, the benefit may be worth it to your family in other ways.  When CLEP and AP credit is earned inside an AA or AS degree that will be used at an NC public university, the exam credit is locked into the transfer agreement and won’t be thrown out – even if the NC public university doesn’t normally award CLEP / AP credit.

“My son took and passed 7 CLEPs during 9th & 10th grade. The AA pathway consists of 11 courses the student must complete before moving on to other classes, his CLEPs knocked out 6 of those classes.  I HIGHLY recommend keeping a spreadsheet to track what your child’s CLEP exams will come in as and what classes they have to complete on the pathway so that you can plan each semester accordingly.”

-NC Homeschooling Parent

If you think 4-5 courses per semester may be too much for your teen, consider enrolling them in the “short” versions of each course.  Most courses come in 2 schedule options, 8 weeks or 16 weeks.  By using 8-week options, you can “stack” 2 courses into a single time slot.

FALL 11th GRADE

  • ENG111 (weeks 1-8)  3 credits
  • ENG 112 (weeks 9-16) 3 credits
  • SOC210 (weeks 1-8) 3 credits
  • PSY150 (weeks 9-16) 3 credits
  • MAT161 (weeks 1-16) 3 credits

Observe that this student is taking 15 credits, but at any given time will only be taking 3 classes at a time (English 1, Sociology, and College Algebra) for 8 weeks, and then (English 2, Psychology, and College Algebra) for 8 weeks.

 What’s on the AA or AS Pathway?


 

Off Pathway- On Degree

At some point in the 11th or 12th grade school year, your teen will be eligible to go “off-pathway” and start checking boxes toward their associate’s degree.  It’s important for me to emphasize that even if your teen can’t finish their entire associate’s degree in high school, that they keep plugging away and finish their degree before matriculating into their target university.  In order to get that “transfer guarantee” offered by our state, your teen must complete the full degree.  Even just one credit short means that their target university will evaluate each and every class, AP, and CLEP exam- which could mean credit being lost in the transfer.  You don’t want that! This whole plan is based on the protected right we have to get a full and perfect transfer.

While working a degree plan, the community college advising team should be included in course selection and guidance with your teen.  You’ll want to be sure that each course brings your teen one step closer to their degree, and that there are no missteps.  Double check that your teen is following the correct degree plan:  AA or AS TRANSFER DEGREE.  Degrees with other titles (Associate of Applied Science, Associate Degree in Nursing, etc.) can transfer too, but the planning is not as cut and dry as AA/AS, and the nuances of planning go beyond the scope of today’s post.  If your teen is pursuing anything other than an AA or AS, they need to check in with their college advisor each and every semester before choosing classes.


 High School and College Graduation

If you worked the plan, your teen will be ready for their high school diploma (issued by you) and will walk across their community college stage to receive their associate’s degree.  Double win!

Having completed the AA/AS degree, your teen will apply to our public universities as a transfer student.  If your teen doesn’t finish the degree and only has accumulated college credit, your teen must apply as a freshman.  Transfer students in North Carolina who hold a full AA/AS degree don’t have to take the SAT exam or meet the “high school entrance” course requirements.

The entire process of exiting a community college with an AA/AS degree and transferring into a public university is HEAVILY REGULATED and standardized by our state.  It’s called our Comprehensive Articulation Agreement, and the contents are public information.  This is a huge advantage because you can learn everything there is to know about the process- just like an academic advisor.  In fact, traditional high school guidance counselors do not advise students on coordinating high school and college graduation simultaneously – it’s beyond their scope of practice.

Don’t be suprised if you encounter the occasional College Admissions Representative who doesn’t know or understand the Comprehensive Articulation Agreement policy as well as you do.  What you’re planning to do is extraordinary.

Tuition Cost for AA / AS Degree:  $0



Onward to the Bachelor’s Degree

To take full advantage of what NC has to offer, you’ll want to tap into their newest program that goes into effect FALL 2018 called North Carolina Promise Program.  The Promise Program has selected 3 colleges in NC that will allow your teen to enroll for a tuition cost of $500 per semester.  This means, your teen can complete their last 2 years of college (4 semesters) for only $2000.  Note that even if your teen doesn’t choose a Promise school, their AA / AS degree is still a guaranteed perfect transfer- but you’ll pay tuition at the rack rate.

You should budget in costs of textbooks (renting or buying used is often a big cost saving) as well as fees.  Most colleges have hidden fees or insurance costs.  You can find these out in advance, and use them as you calculate costs.  EVERY COLLEGE DIFFERS in their fees, so be sure to check all three.

Through NC Promise, the state will significantly reduce student tuition cost at three UNC system institutions – Elizabeth City State University, The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, and Western Carolina University – beginning in Fall 2018. The plan will increase educational access, reduce student debt and grow the state’s economy.  -NC Promise

To keep costs to a bare minimum, you’ll have to address housing.  If you’re fortunate enough to live within commuting distance (Pembroke, Elizabeth City, or Cullowhee) you can avoid the cost of student housing (between $2,000-$4,000 per semester!) by keeping your teen at home.  For two years of housing, this impacts your overall budget by $8,000 – $16,000!  Add in meals, and the “housing question” is no small decision.

What if you don’t live near one of the 3 campuses?  2 of the colleges (UNC-P and WCU) offer a selection of degrees that can be completed as a distance learning student!  Of the the three, WCU offers the most online programs, UNCP is a close second, and ECSU offers next to no distance programs. While not “every” major could (or should) be completed as a distance learner, but some of the degrees are offered both ways- so distance learning allows your teen to live at home, avoid transportation costs, and save travel time to and from campus.

What about stigma?  Distance learning won’t bring a stigma that came with the older correspondence colleges, degree mills, and shady for-profit schools of the late 90’s and early 2000’s.  Distance learning is now mainstream!  In 2018, over 98% of all public colleges and universities participate in distance learning technology (offers one or more courses in a distance learning format), and in almost every case, no distinction is made on the transcript or degree- in other words, the degree from either of those three state schools is identical whether earned online or on campus.

What about fees?  All colleges add in fees, the million dollar questions are “what kind of fees- and how much are they?”  Some fees you can control, for instance, a parking pass isn’t required if you’re not attending classes on campus, at Western Carolina University that saves you $350 per year.  Elizabeth State also has an $80 laundry fee you won’t have to worry about, but bouncing a check will cost you no less than $25 at each school.

Fees that you should expect include Technology Fees ( about $300/year), Activity Fees (about $600/year), and in some cases, you’ll have a Health Insurance Fee if your teen doesn’t already have health insurance through a parent.  Note that fees for residential (staying on campus) students and distance learning (not staying on campus) are usually different.  Be sure you’re looking at the correct classification.  Also note that with a completed AA/AS degree in hand, your teen isn’t subject to “freshman fees.”


Distance Learning Programs at Promise Schools (2018)

NOTE:  As of this writing, the Promise Program is in progress to launch- you won’t find accurate tuition and fees listed… yet.  I’m even seeing rack rate tuition. Stay tuned.

Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC

  • Birth-Kindergarten Teacher
  • Business Administration
  • Criminal Justice 
  • Emergency and Disaster Management
  • Engineering Technology (Off-site/Hybrid Program)
  • Innovation Leadership and Entrepreneurship
  • RN to BSN (Nursing)

The University of North Carolina, Pembroke, NC

  • Criminal Justice
  • Sociology
  • Interdisciplinary Studies (Applied Professional Studies, Applied Information Technology, Criminal Justice, or Public and Non-Profit Administration)
  • Business Administration (Finance, Management, or Marketing.) 

Elizabeth State University, Elizabeth City, NC

Elizabeth State makes it harder for students to earn a degree via distance learning because they only separate out a list of courses the student can complete online.  I believe that they expect all students to attend on campus as a rule and that online learning allows for exceptions.  Based on what I could cobble together on their website, none of their degrees can be fully completed as a distance learning student.  This may change if their enrollment increases as a result of the Promise Program.  I’ll keep you updated.  Majors offered at Elizabeth State.

Tuition Cost for AA / AS Degree:  $0

Tuition Cost for BA / BS Degree:  $500 per sem x 4 

Tuition Total:  $2,000


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If you’re homeschooling for college credit and live in North Carolina, you’ll want to get the inside scoop by joining our NC HS4CC Facebook group!  Readers from other areas of the country can find their state’s Facebook group here.

In closing, even if you don’t take advantage of the new Promise program, every homeschooling teen in NC can take advantage of the AA/AS option.  More encouragement from the North Carolina Homeschooling for College Credit Facebook group:

“My daughter graduated in 2016 with her AA, she transferred to UNCC, moved into her major after taking 2 classes that were needed for it over the summer, and will be graduating with her BS in May ’18 and early admitted to a master’s program and will be graduating that May ’19.”

  –Denise W., NC homeschooling parent


“My daughter transferred to Chapel Hill with her associates in liberal studies. She does have to take three semesters of foreign language and one life fitness class as part of the general requirements to graduate from Chapel Hill, but her Associates fulfilled the rest of the requirements for general ed and she is on track to graduate in two years.”

– Jennifer Brauns Anthony, NC homeschooling parent


“Western was great on transferring my daughters credits even before she committed to attend (which she did not) and if you had a AA or AS completed you were automatically in as a junior”

-Jackie P., NC homeschooling parent

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 the 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 startup 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.


If you’d like to hear from someone much smarter than I am, the founder of Univerity of the People, Shai Reshef, gives a TED talk about how higher education is changing “from being a privilege for the few to a basic right, affordable and accessible for all.”

 

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, 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 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

Let’s 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 equivalent.
  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 the 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 for 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

Posted in College Admission, Credit by Exam

2017 Survey of College Admin

Sometime I like to share articles that help you see inside the big picture of higher education – how it works and what they think. I just read the report from Insider Higher Education this morning (link follows)- they looked at the 2017 survey that asks college leaders (Chief Academic Officers/Provosts- the big bosses) about the state of higher education on their campus today.   I realize you may not be interested in reading the entire thing, but there are 4 quotes I wanted to pull from the summary. If you only have 2 minutes, skip straight to number 4.
1.  “Seventy-three percent also say that their institution relies ‘significantly’ on non-tenure-track professors…35% expect more reliance on adjunct faculty.”
WOW! Ok folks, this is huge. Let me break this down for you.  Tenure (not without problems) really means having a teaching position for life.  Coming from a community college where there are almost zero tenure faculty, even I was shocked by this number. Colleges and universities that have tenure faculty have typically stood out as being the creme de la creme.  Thnk: flagship universities and Ivy League.  These professors are integral to the college’s “brand” and for some fields, it’s the reason students choose a specific university.    But wait, there’s more….
There are other categories besides tenure and non, so if they rely less on tenure, who is doing the teaching?  Certainly they mean just regular -full time faculty?  Uh, nope.  Over 1/3 of them are going to use more adjunct faculty.
What is adjunct?  That’s the academic term that means “temp hire.”  Adjunct work 1 semester at a time, teaching classes the full timers can’t or don’t want to teach.  As it stands, community colleges already have the highest number of adjunct faculty.  I’m not going to slam adjunct work – I did it for 14 years in the community college system, but if you’re paying a premium dollar for tuition, you may be getting the same teacher who is also teaching 6 other sections at 3 other colleges in your town.  (Adjunct earn on average only $1500 per semester per course taught).   As a temp, there are extreme limitations to that teacher’s commitment to the student (that they will never see again) their ability to interject quality into the curriculum (they have no power) and their desperation to be hired back next term (be extra nice to the students – students like A’s).
2.  “45 percent of provosts believe that liberal arts education (across institutional types) is in decline.”
I suspect that’s because students with a strictly liberal arts preparation are having a hard time repaying their enormous student loans while earning low paying jobs. There is a push (rightfully) that college graduates should be employable upon graduation.
My first degree (Associate of Occupational Studies) was to get a job – plain and simple.  I went to culinary school to learn culinary arts so I could become a chef.  Simple.  Everything else is not so simple.  Later, when I earned an AA in general studies and a BA in Social Science (liberal arts), I realized how starkly different a liberal arts education and vocational education were.  My BA didn’t give me “work place skills” I studied social psychology, anthropology, history, and other social sciences.  Interesting, but not job skills.  If I wanted a job in social science, I’d have to earn a PhD so I be hired by a university that would then pay me to teach students studying social science who would then have the option of earning a PhD so they could teach social science to students….  [I’ll give you a minute to let that soak in….]
So, if a vocational education is job training, why do people earn BA degrees in liberal arts? Well to be “educated” of course.  Everyone knows vocational education isn’t real college (heavy sarcasm).  BUT, here’s the rub.  The highly educated but underemployed segment is growing at a HUGE rate.  This is the group that can’t repay their student loans, and the group that is getting expensive colleges in major hot water.  (To be fair, vocational colleges whose students can’t get jobs are also in hot water).
3.  “Eighty-five percent of provosts report that their institutions use student evaluations when judging faculty members for tenure, promotion or raises.”
Do students know that they hold this kind of power?  Bad reviews on Rate My Professor can make or break a career.  I remember in 1997, our college adopted a new philosophy called “Continued Quality Improvement” or CQI.  In short, we could no longer call students students, we were now to think of them as a “customer” and our focus was to shift toward customer service.  Having been a college student as a teen and as an adult, I can tell you there is a stark contrast between my experience as a youth and that of an adult.  While I liked having more power (don’t laugh), we also know what student-driven success looks like.  It looks like an “A” or else.
4.  “This year, 91 percent of provosts at public colleges and universities said they favored awarded credit through CBE”
THIS!  CBE is “competency based education” which is to say a college awards credit for competency rather than time spent in a classroom.  This looks like CLEP, AP, DSST, prior learning assessments, and others.  If you read nothing else in the article, pan down and read the section titled Competency Based Education.  Frequently, at least a few times per month, someone asks me what I think of fewer colleges accepting CLEP or awarding credit for AP.  Huh?  Those number have soared over the past decade (I keep records of such things).    As you read the article, you’ll see 2/3 of all public colleges report awarding credit for some type of CBE, while only around 1/3 for private.  I think that’s reasonable.   Private colleges have a brand development dilemma that gets in the way – but that’s not because of CLEP, those same private colleges also don’t accept much transfer credit either.  It’s just the nature of their business model.
So, one more bit of good news, even with 2/3 currently participating in CBE, those that don’t were asked if they were exploring the idea.  49% said yes.
Posted in College Admission, SAT

SAT: Stressing About Testing

“A class of children sit revising for make-or-break exams to get them into the college of their choice. It’s the sort of scene that could be seen in high schools across the world but for one important difference: The pupils have intravenous drips hanging over their desks. The image is taken from footage that claims to reveal the controversial use of the drips to boost pupils’ ability to study at a school in Xiaogan, Hubei province, China.” Full story

Homeschooling parents have a special kind of anxiety about standardized testing. In many cases, the very principle of using a standardized course of study is exactly why parents removed their kids from group schools in the first place. The notion of individualized pursuit of academic excellence is the opposite of seeking standardization and consistency. Parents I talk to are completely comfortable marching to the beat of their own drum… until somewhere around middle or high school.

Around middle / high school the homeschooling parent’s anxiety goes up, and parents worry about their kids “measuring up” against the kids who have taken standardized tests on a regular basis. Why? PSAT, SAT, ACT, AP, and a few others in the alphabet soup of measurement are introduced into the homeschool for the first time. Remember, most states don’t require homeschooled kids to take standardized tests, in fact, my own kids didn’t take a test until we moved to a “test required” state in 2012. My oldest was a senior in high school with 21 college credits before he ever had to “fill in a bubble.”

The irony of parent’s anxiety, is that homeschooled teens usually kick-butt when it comes to standardized testing. I think most of us have heard the stats- generally homeschooled teens score somewhere in the 80th+ percentile on standardized grade-level tests, and in the upper quartile on college entrance exams . The “why” behind those stats are for another day, but for most parents, those stats aren’t comforting reassurance- they’re added pressure from the homeschool community that demands a higher standard. Above average is average. But what if your teen really is average? What if your teen has passions and talents that aren’t part of what is tested on the SAT? What if your teen is just a regular student who will probably score in the 50th percentile in most subjects? They have no chance, right?

Well, you might be suprised and relieved to know that SAT scores are not an accurate predictor of success in college – and yet, they continue to be a source of stress and fuss among high school parents and students. Homeschool parents know, but should be reminded, that academic success is multi-dimensional. College success is multi-dimensional. Additionally, happiness, health, and success in life as a grown up is more than a high school test score or grade.

As you consider standardized testing options for your teen, know that college entrance tests are currently optional. Unlike achievement tests that may be required of k-12 homeschool students in some states, the PSAT, ACT, and SAT for college entrance are not required exams. Choosing to take an exam is an opportunity for your teen to demonstrate college readiness. As such, whether or not your teen decides to take one of these exams depends on 4 key factors: Homeschool exit strategies, target colleges, availability, and their strengths/weaknesses.

Homeschool Exit Strategies

What are the options after high school? The most popular options include: college, military, apprenticeship, mission work, vocational training, gap year, or entering the workforce. While it feels like “everyone” goes to college, the current data tells us about 67% of high school graduates will enter college directly. We also know that of that set, only 60% will graduate in 6 years or less. From that, we can infer that many of the students who entered college directly may have been more successful taking a different approach:

if 1000 students graduate high school: 330 do not head to college while 670 do.

Of those 670 who start college, 402 graduate in 6 years or less, while 268 do not graduate college ever. The simple math tells us that of the initial 1000 high school graduates, only 402 follow the direct timeline from high school graduation to college graduation. That leaves the majority -598 students- in different categories. This set had a different exit strategy or changed strategy at some point in the 6 years after high school graduation. National Center for Educational Statistics

As you consider exit strategies for your teen, remember that one size does not fit all. For teens not heading directly into college following high school graduation, or choosing a different path, standardized exams are probably unnecessary.

Target Colleges

If your teen has a few target colleges picked out, simply visit the college’s website to see if and which exam(s) they prefer. (Try looking in their “Admissions” tab) If your teen doesn’t have target colleges picked out, read on…

There is a growing trend away from requiring ACT/SAT exams for admission.  You might be surprised to know that The National Center for Fair and Open Testing maintains a database of over 900 bachelor-degree-granting-colleges that do not require standardized exams for admission, are “test optional” or “test flexible.” See full list. In addition to the bachelor’s degree colleges above, there are 1,200 community colleges in the United States, most of which provide open enrollment admission – that is to say admission is granted without test score benchmarks. In most cases, colleges use a placement tool (Accuplacer and Compass) to determine level for placement, not whether or not you can earn admission.

since not all students graduate high school ready for 100 level college courses, the community college provides the courses necessary to meet that deficiency instead of denying admission.

Two advantages of taking a placement exam at your community college over traditional standardized tests are (a) student can schedule it whenever they want – even into adulthood, and (b) typically there is little or no cost.

For colleges that require SAT or ACT exams for admission, you may find that this only applies to freshman applications. For students entering college after military service, after mission service, as a transfer student, after earning an associate’s degree, or those over the age of 21, the SAT/ACT exam requirement is typically removed.

Availability

Standardized exams require advanced scheduling and travel to a testing center.  In short, homeschooling families that spend a lot of time traveling, stationed overseas, or other location-based limitations will have to take that into account.

Strengths and Weaknesses

The purpose of a standardized exam is for your son or daughter to demonstrate their candidacy to a specific college. As such, you’ll want to take stock of their strengths and weaknesses when choosing the right exam rather than trying to score well on both exams. Remember, both ACT and SAT have undergone changes over the past few years, so be sure your teen is using current study material as they prepare. Since the last SAT revision, the differences between the Reading, English, and Math sections are very minor. The significant distinction is that ACT includes science, while he SAT does not.

If your teen’s strengths are in athletics, music, ministry, or if they have weaknesses that interfere with strong testing ability, the standardized test may not be the right choice for your family. While it’s true that some teens will be required to take a standardized test to pursue specific colleges, creative and resourceful parents should not be intimidated or fall to peer pressure that may not be in the best interest of their family.