Posted in Curriculum, High School

Say YES to Home Economics

If you don’t know, I’m a trained chef by profession.  I went to The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York right out of high school and worked as a chef for many years before I got married and started a family.   I LOVE all things food.   As you can imagine, Home Economics in 7th grade was a big influence on me – it was the first time my passing interest was put in an academic context.

We learned about the cookies we made, and we learned about how to make them better for next time.  I was shown how to crack an egg and peel a potato, and I was allowed to use a knife and the oven.  (I grew up in a home without an oven, strange but true, so this was HUGE!)  I was hooked.  I happen to also love the rest of it:  budgeting, sewing, childcare, etc.

Home Economics (rebranded as Consumer Sciences) has fallen from school curriculum in favor of STEM, and fights against the band, choir, and art for a school’s limited resources.  In our measurement-obsessed society, schools have little enthusiasm for subjects that doesn’t prep kids for standardized exams.  Let me say up front, that there aren’t any college credit options for high school home economics, and unless you’re going to major in home economics (excuse me, consumer sciences) you won’t find many college classes either.  It’s a shame, really.   Home Economics, in my opinion, is an acquired skill.   I didn’t always manage my home as well as I do today but know plenty of adults who must have missed home economics altogether.

I think FUN is to blame.  If a curriculum is too fun or too inviting, gets in the way of important things, like transcripts, college admission, and test prep.

Real home economics teaches basic life skills that will carry a person through their entire life, but they also give expose our teens to activities that may not have come up in our activities of daily living.  I realize making a batch of muffins and sewing a placemat don’t feel as important as more time in World History, but I don’t think it’s an “either-or” position, I think it’s an “and” position.  I think World History is important, and, I think home economics is important.

Poor home economics.  I don’t define a home economics credit as making frozen pizza and volunteering in the church nursery.    Those are valuable experiences, but let’s get into the heart of home economics.   Did it take you years to learn how to live on a budget (are you still learning?).  Do you have to eat out a lot or buy convenience foods because you never learned to cook from scratch?  Do you toss a shirt because it’s missing a button or become stained?  These small skills pay off in a small way once you live in a dorm, a little more when you’re in your first apartment, and a lot once you’ve started a family.  These skills pay off immeasurably if you’re going to be a homeschooling family living on one income for 20 years.

What is home economics?  Many will answer “life skills” and that’s not untrue, but to me, there is a difference between being able to keep your family alive and being a skilled home economist!  In my opinion, home economics are a deliberate attempt to learn and then master skills of the home.  I realize that some of the skills will fall into the category of “feminine” and may not appeal to your sons,  but that’s ok, we all have had to learn things that aren’t our favorite.  There may be many independent years where your son will thank you for teaching him to cook and do his laundry.

What’s covered in a basic Home Economics course?

It varies by curriculum designer, but in general, the more of this the better:

Finances and Budgeting (income, expenses, saving, credit, budgeting)

Household Care (interior cleaning, laundry, repairs)

Automobile Care (routine maintenance, pumping gas)

Basic Sewing and Mending (Fix a button, patch a hole)

Shopping and Storage of Food (refrigerated, frozen, and non-perishable)

Basic Lawn and Garden (Mowing, weeding, planting, pest control)

Basic Home Furnishings (selecting furniture, painting a room, hanging curtains)

Safety (CPR, First Aid, child-proofing, personal protection, over the counter medication)

Child Care (feeding, changing diapers, supervising, nurturing)

Organizing (a place for everything, everything in its place)

Entertaining (special cooking or baking, decorating, guest lists, etiquette)

Parent Mentoring

I think homeschool parents have an advantage when it comes to teaching and modeling good home economics.  Why?  Because we’re always teaching our children!  It doesn’t start or stop with the clock.  So while it’s common sense to teach these skills to our teens, I like to be a little more diligent about it by making a list of “must know” and tackling it with my husband.  A list is good because if you have many children like I do, it helps you remember who knows what and who doesn’t.  It also helps you really consider the skills familyyou’d like your teens to take with them when they leave home.  My kids watched a lot of lawn mowing before they were allowed to do it themselves, and many years of practice before they were “good” at it.  Many skills lend themselves beautifully to parent mentoring, but you may also want to use a formal curriculum or course.

When I started looking for a formal home economics curriculum, I was pretty disappointed.  My go-to and favorite review site Cathy Duffy Reviews doesn’t have a section for home economics, but I’ve done my own homework.  In addition to these high school programs, I’m going to list a few more “grown-up” options that are fantastic.  For example, I love the ServSafe Food Handler course!  In addition to it providing a real career credential they can add to their resume, your teen will learn a ton about basic kitchen sanitation – something everyone should know.   If you have a favorite to add, I’d love to know about it!

High School Textbook-based

Alpha Omega Home Economics Lifepac (10 workbook course – Christian)

Christian Light Publications (10 workbook course – Christian, for females only)

Landmark’s Freedom Baptist (1 book – Christian, for females only)

Abeka Family and Consumer Sciences (1 book – Christian, cooking only)

McGraw-Hill Catalog (over 200 books to choose from- Secular)

Foundations in Personal Finance, Dave Ramsey, (Christian/ Secular)

Online Learning

Home Economics Kitchen Skills, free online course, Plain and Not So Plain (Christian)

Household and Personal Management, free online course, Plain and Not So (Christian)

Foundations in Personal Finance, Dave Ramsey, (Christian / Secular)

ServSafe Food Handling Certification $15 food safety course includes certification.

Alison Diplomas, free open courses in Childcare, Caregiving, Nutrition, and many others. Can be taken individually or for a diploma.  These are not for college credit.  (Secular)

Life Skills for Young Men, Plain and Not So Plain (Christian)



Posted in Curriculum, Dual Enrollment, High School, Self-Paced Learning, Straighterline

Straighterline and my 10th Grader’s Spring Semester

Almost as an afterthought, when my 12th grader started using Straighterline this past semester, I decided to enroll my 10th grader- for just one month.  My goal was for them to share the textbook I’d just purchased for my older son.  Efficiency is always an important part of our budget.  They’d share the text, learn lessons together (mostly) and we’d assess after the first class.  (NOTE:  In our second month, Straighterline’s policy for books changed, and a free edition of an eBook was included with each course’s tuition, so we ended up not spending anything on books after the first month!)

You can read about the basics of using Straighterline in your homeschool, or how to choose your courses in my previous posts.  For this post, I just want to provide a brief overview of what my son did, what we spent, and his outcome.  As you’ll see, the first month was so successful (earning 9 college credits) that I decided to continue for the duration of the semester (Dec-May).  You should know that he dedicated about 1-2 hours per day to his Straighterline course Monday-Friday as part of his regular school schedule.  He was able to complete his other homeschool courses (Chemistry with Lab, Consumer Math, and Building Thinking Skills) during another 1-2 hours each day.

As you read the schedule, I list each course and credit earned in the month that I purchased it, not the month he completed it.  Some courses were completed in a week, others in a month, and others took longer still.  As an example, Nutrition and American Government, courses he’d already taken in homeschool, took him only 1 week each, but writing-intensive courses like English Composition I & II took him about 7 weeks each.

As I write this, he enters his final month of school with Straighterline and me. We take a summer vacation, so I’m ready to wrap things up with our kids by Memorial Day.  He has completed everything except Chemistry and English II.  He has 3 more papers to write for English II and hasn’t started their chemistry course.  Since he’s been doing Chemistry with Lab all school year with me, I expect Straighterline’s General Chemistry I to go smoothly and take about 2 weeks.  Writing, for him, is a long and arduous process.  I expect he’ll struggle through until the very end.

Grades:  His grades have been fine.  Straighterline requires a minimum passing score of 70% for their courses, and he’s finished most of his courses in the mid-80’s.  His best course grade was English Composition I (93%) and his lowest course grade was Introduction to Psychology (79%).  Final course grades issued by Straighterline are based only on quizzes and exams (except composition and lab courses) so testing acumen is important if you want to score well.  Since these credits will only appear as “credit” on his college transcript, the final grades aren’t important to his GPA.  While I used his Straighterline courses to inform the grade I awarded him on his high school transcript, in most cases, the grades I gave him differed slightly.  (NOTE:  Since Straighterline is not a college, you never have to disclose any grades or credits earned/not earned through them.  Dual enrollment, on the other hand, requires full disclosure on college applications)

Breakdown of Costs & Credit

Month Class Cost Discounts Applied Credits Earned
December Membership

Introduction to Religion


Business Ethics





-$20 coupon

-$20 coupon

January Membership

Cultural Anthropology

Medical Terminology

Introduction to Nutrition





February Membership

English Composition I

English Composition II




March Membership

Environmental Science

American Government

Introduction to Psychology





-$49 coupon 9
April Membership

Chemistry I

Introduction to Business




-$50 coupon 6
May Membership $99
IMG_3442 $1376

-$139 coupons



The total we spent over 6 months was: $1237

Total credits earned:  39 

Breakdown average per month:  $206/month

The average price per credit:  $32/credit

What I liked best about his semester:

  • I obviously liked that he earned college credit since he’s isn’t eligible to use dual enrollment in our state until next school year.  This gave him a great head-start.
  • I liked that the course rubric (point break down) is spelled out clearly, so, at any given time, he (I) knew exactly how many points he needed to pass the class.  This eliminated a LOT of testing anxiety because in most cases, he’d already earned enough points to pass
    the course before ever taking the proctored final exam.  While the exam is required, passing is not, so his testing anxiety wasn’t nearly as high as when he attempted (and failed) his first CLEP exam last year.
  • I like that they added free eBooks in the tuition of each course.  This helped me make sure I had the book on day 1 of each class without waiting for books to arrive.
  • I like that I can pay for my son’s classes with Paypal.  This allowed me to use sales from books I’d sold through the College Credit Marketplace swap Facebook group.
  • I like Straighterline’s video lesson format.  Since a couple of their courses didn’t have the video lesson format (Microbiology and Statistics) this can also be classified as what I didn’t like!
  • I liked that my son could do all of his courses without my help (after the first one!)

What I liked least about this semester:

  • I didn’t like finding a totally different format (reading only!) in the Microbiology course.  This was a huge disappointment.  There’s a reason that course is only $25.
  • Some courses had WAY TOO MANY quizzes, or the quizzes were WAY TOO LONG.  I can think of several instances where the quizzes were over 50 questions and covered 4 or more chapters in the text.  Both my sons hated these.  Obviously, since the quizzes are open book (I make them look up every answer on every question on every open book quiz- that’s low hanging fruit people!) these took a long time.
  • This seems to contradict what I just said, but other quizzes were too short.  Nutrition, for instance, was full of 10-question quizzes.  As you can imagine, missing a few questions really makes a difference between an A and a C!  The “sweet spot” according to my teens is the 20 question quiz.  I tend to agree.
  • Written assignments are not graded by teachers, they are graded by “graders.” Graders are anonymous people who you’ll never meet, and can never have
    a conversation with.  While they attempt to give good feedback, the loop is broken because the student can’t communicate with the grader!  In one instance during English I, my son turned in a paper that was kicked back for being off-topic.  It was clearly on-topic, so we had to submit a support ticket, which escalated to a course administrator, and finally resulted in his paper being accepted and graded.  The process is clunky and frustrating when compared with the other courses that don’t have graders (tests are automatically graded instantly).
  •  My son worked fast- and you have to because you’re being
    billed $99 per month.  So, there is a constant sense of playing “beat the clock” in a course. Since we were aware of the structure ahead of time, I adjusted his homeschool schedule and was prepared to pull back on his other work if necessary, but for me, the feeling was a little inconsistent with my normal approach to courses- allowing plenty of time for marinating.  When I asked my son, he said he liked finishing courses quickly instead of spending all semester studying something……so mark this up to personal preference.
  • ProctorU.  I really, really, really don’t love ProctorU.  ProctorU is the third party webcam proctoring service that is part of each final exam.  Your teen logs in, the webcam clicks on, ProctorU opens your final and then testing begins.  Initially, I didn’t like the feeling of the webcam experience, but my kids thought this wasn’t an issue at all.  But, the issue that we had at least 3 times (between about 24 courses with 2 teens) was technical issues getting logged in.  If there is any log in trouble, they route you to tech support, but if you don’t start your exam within the 15-minute window, you have to reschedule it and pay $5.  So, as you can imagine, this is really really frustrating because you have to reschedule your test!  Finals must be scheduled 72 hours in advance (or pay a rush fee).  2 of the 3 times Straighterline covered the $5 reschedule fee for us (I didn’t ask the first time because I didn’t think to) but it’s really inconvenient when you’ve planned your homeschool schedule around taking a proctored exam.  The room has to be private, quiet, and free of things that could be used for cheating.  In our home, the room that meets these criteria is our dining room, so keep that in mind too.  One final ProctorU comment, you’ll need identification for each test.  If you don’t have a driver’s license, they’ll ask for 2 forms of ID.  My son used his passport and driver’s permit.

    EDIT TO ADD ONE MORE THING!!  I can’t believe I forgot to share this earlier when I posted, but English 1 and Psychology are considered actual AP courses – so his high school transcript will list both “AP English Composition” and “AP General Psychology!”   But no, he won’t bother with the exams, he doesn’t need them.

Posted in AP Advanced Placement, Curriculum, High School, Science

A Little Bit About Physics

Physics is often the “last” science a student takes in high school- if at all.  Let’s face it, it’s too much math for most people, because, well, physics is math!  

Navigating physics gave me fits for years until I read a recent post from SolarKat over on InstantCert.  For those who want to study physics, he shares some great advice and gave me permission to share it here with all of you.

“I would encourage a LOT of math. Physics, at its heart, is math. Plus, if your student decides he wants to go further with physics, he’s likely to need Calculus 1, Calculus 2, Multivariable Calculus, Differential Equations, Linear Algebra, and Statistics. Ideally Numerical Methods, too.”

Ok, wow!  That’s a lot to digest.  Let’s take it down a few levels and look at physics as a subject.  (In my case, I wanted this explained to me like I’m a 10-year-old so this might be a little too simple for some of you.) In short, “real scientists” tell you that physics must be calculus-based.  When asking more about the differences, this was the reply:

“in algebra-based physics, you let the partition of finite difference and summation goes to 0, you will get a calculus-based physics. Nothing else more than that.”


Huh?!  Ok, that’s not like I’m a 10-year-old.  So, after more digging, I’ve reduced physics into the absolute simplest terms that I could understand.  If you need more depth, the physics forum referenced above is excellent.  But, I think this says it all:

“To really understand physics, I think you have to understand calculus, but calculs largley came from physics so they are intertwined. Just about all physics equations are dervied with some help from calculus.”


There are essentially 2 types of introductory physics

Physics 1 (Mechanics)

Physics 2 (Electromagnetics)

Both types will fall into either

Algebra-based (non-science)

Calculus-based (science)

So, as you navigate the high school physics options and the college credit options, my recommendation is to take into consideration your teen’s long-term college and career goals.  If your student will major in any of the liberal arts or career fields (even pre-med) then algebra-based physics will meet their needs!  If your student is headed into any of the hard sciences, engineering, or math, then you’ll want to start them on the proper path (calculus-based) after they’ve studied calculus.

The MOST IMPORTANT takeaway I can offer you is to know which type of mathematical base is being used in the class before you sign up your teen, and choose based on their long-term study plans.

For your science major teen:  wait until after calculus 1 to begin the study of physics.

For your non-science major teen:  study physics anytime or after algebra 2.

AP Physics (Credit by Exam) 

  • AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism (Calculus-based)
    AP Physics C: Mechanics (Calculus-based)
    AP Physics 1: Algebra-Based (Mechanics) formerly called AP Physics B
    AP Physics 2: Algebra-Based (Electromagnetics) formerly called AP Physics B


Popular High School Physics Curriculum

  • Conceptual Physics (Algebra-based)
  • Saxon Physics (Algebra-based)
  • DIVE Physics (Algebra-based)
  • Exploration Education Physical Science Course (Algebra-based)
  • Novare Physical Science: A Mastery-Oriented Curriculum (Algebra-based)
  • Robinson Curriculum (Calculus-based)
  • A.C.E. Physical Science (Algebra-based)
  • BJU Press Physics (Algebra-based)
  • Apologia Advanced Physics (Algebra-based)


Free Physics Curriculum/Classes


College Credit Options for High School Students

  • AP exams:  anyone can take an AP exam.  Use your favorite algebra-based or calculus-based physics curriculum to prepare for the AP exam.  AP exams are worth advanced standing or college credit at most colleges.   2017 AP exam dates
  • Saylor Academy Physics 1 (Calculus-based)
  • Saylor Academy Physics II (Calculus-based)
    • Both of the Saylor courses offer a $25 college credit exam at the completion of the course.  The type of college credit awarded is ACE credit, and not well accepted by colleges, but is guaranteed transfer through their direct partner colleges or the Alternative Credit Project arrangement.
  • Straighterline General Physics 1 with Lab (Calculus-based)
    • Straighterline awards ACE credit for successful completion of the course.  ACE credit is not well accepted by colleges but is guaranteed transfer through their partnership agreements with 100 colleges or Alternative Credit Project.
  • Dual Enrollment:  contact your local community college to see if your teen is eligible for college enrollment as a high school student.
  • CLEP Exam:  only about 25% of the CLEP exam Natural Sciences contains algebra-based physics 1 & 2.  (another 25% chemistry, and 50% biology)  There is no CLEP exam specifically for physics.
  • DSST Exam:  50% of the DSST Physical Science exam contains algebra-based physics 1 & 2.  (the other 50% is chemistry).  There is no DSST exam specifically for physics.



Posted in AP Advanced Placement, CLEP, Curriculum, Distance Learning, DSST, High School, Self-Paced Learning

The Great Courses

In 2008, I was struggling through a college Anatomy & Physiology course when I turned to youtube for some help.  I stumbled upon a video by Dr. Anthony A. Goodman – it blew me away.  Not only did he help me understand the information, but I dug until I found the rest of his lectures- they were that good.  As it turned out, they were eventually pulled from Youtube for copyright violation (oops) but I found the source: The Great Courses

Here’s the short of it:  The Great Courses are usually (not always) college-level learning taught by well respected and highly regarded professors.  These are not worth college credit when taken alone, rather they are used in your homeschool as a high school curriculum.  You could then marry the program with other test prep material if you desire to finish your teen’s program with AP, CLEP, or other exam credit.

Format:  Individual Great Courses are available on DVD, CD, Audio, or you can stream their whole Plus catalog on demand through their new Great Courses Plus program (monthly subscription).   While I am not a Plus subscriber, the Plus program looks amazing!  It will appeal greatly to those of you who use technology in your classroom or are already comfortable with products like Amazon Prime, Apple TV, mobile device based streaming, for entertainment.  This product fits into that category perfectly.   Plus program subscribers also have the option of purchasing hard copies at a deep discount (70% off).  

This promotional link gives you 1 month free:

The Great Courses Plus – One Month Free

CLEP & AP Friendly?  I asked our membership if they thought the Great Courses alone were “enough” to prepare their teen for an AP exam or CLEP exam, or if it served as the main curriculum and they followed up with CLEP/AP prep.  This is what they had to say:

Jude Barrier Dickson writes…” I don’t think any TGC {The Great Courses} is enough for an AP or CLEP exam. This is NOT to say they are not valuable, and be sure to know we use them extensively, but I find the best practice for exams are flash cards of info, presented as they would be in an AP or CLEP test.”

Wendy G.  writes… “Lots of CLEP and AP here and I also don’t think TGC would alone be enough, we just use them as supplemental.”

Selecting TGC for Your Homeschool

Since no single course stands alone as your curriculum and test prep, this small selection is representative of the types of courses I believe would enhance your homeschooling for college credit program.  I’ve deliberately selected courses from the Plus list since they are all also available for DVD purchase if you choose.  (Not all DVDs are available to stream)

SCIENCE: The Great Courses Plus

AP or CLEP Biology Program:  Biology The Science of Life, The Joy of Science, Understanding Genetics, and What Science Knows About Cancer.

AP or CLEP Psychology Program:  Mysteries of Human Behavior, Biology, and Human Behavior, Understanding the Brain, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

AP or CLEP Chemistry Program:  Chemistry our Universe, Chemistry 2nd Edition, Nature of Matter, and Organic Chemistry.

HISTORY: The Great Courses

AP or CLEP American History Program:  History of the United States 2nd Edition, Experiencing America, World War II, and Decisive Battles of History.

DSST Civil War Program: American Civil War, History of the United States 2nd Edition, and The Life of Abraham Lincoln

ECONOMICS: The Great Courses

AP or CLEP Economics Program:  An Economic History of the World, The Economics of Uncertainty, and New Global Economy.

OTHER: The Great Courses to Consider

DSST Cultural Anthropology Program:  Customs of the World and Cultures of the World.

AP or DSST Environmental Science (Human Cultural Geography): Understanding Cultural and Human Geography, The Science of Energy, and Fundamentals of Sustainable Living.

AP or DSST Statistics and Probability Program:  Big Data How Analytics are Changing the World, Probability Made Clear, Mathematics of Games and Puzzles, and Game Theory.

AP Music Theory Program:  Music and History, Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas, Mozart’s Chamber Music, Greatest Orchestral Works, and Great Solo Piano Works.

CLEP Humanities Program:  Understanding Opera, History of European Art, Masterpieces of the Ancient World, How to Look at and Understand Great Art, The World’s Greatest Churches, The Louvre, and Understand Great Music.


If your family has used The Great Courses in your homeschool, let me know your favorites, and I’ll add them to this page!  Contact Jennifer

Posted in ACE, AP Advanced Placement, CLEP, Credit by Exam, Curriculum, Distance Learning, Self-Paced Learning, Sophia, Straighterline

Fine Arts

Fine Arts for College Credit

Most general Associate of Arts and Associate of Science (2 year) degrees have at least 1 “Fine Arts” requirement (3 college credits), and you can usually fill that in high school.

Exception:  if your teen is headed into a fine arts college, a music conservatory, or other highly specialized area of fine arts education, you’ll want to check with target colleges before accumulating a lot of college credit in high school.  Specialized art/music colleges sometimes have a policy against accepting transfer credit of any kind, but may allow your teen use Advanced Placement exam scores to boost their admissions application. 

The list of acceptable “Fine Arts” courses will differ slightly by institution, but the following courses will do the trick most of the time.  colors3

  1. Literature
  2. Music Theory
  3. Music Performance
  4. Art History
  5. Studio Art
  6. Humanities

Ways to Fill a College Fine Arts Requirement in High School

Dual Enrollment (contact your local Community College for information)

  • Dual enrollment has the highest probability of transfer assuming the target college accepts transfer credit.  Dual enrollment credit earned in high school is not considered “transfer credit” by most schools, but does carry a grade as part of the student’s permanent record.

Credit by Exam (CLEP, AP, DSST, Saylor, ECE/Uexcel)

  • Credit by Exam (CBE) acceptance varies dramatically.  CBE credit earned in high school is not considered “transfer credit” and generally does not carry a grade (pass/fail only).

Non-College ACE Credit (Straighterline, Sophia, Shmoop, Study, ed4credit, Propero)

  • ACE Credit is generally not accepted except when a partnership exists.  Some companies, like Straighterline, have credit-transfer-guarantee partnerships with more than 100 colleges.  ACE credit earned in high school is not considered “transfer credit” and generally does not carry a grade (pass/fail only).

Credit by Exam

(last update:  04/07/2017)

Advanced Placement (AP) Art History (6 cr.)

Studio Art (6 cr.)

$93 Official AP Page
DSST Art of the Western World (3 cr.) $80 + local proctor fee (~$20) Official DSST Page
CLEP American Literature (3 cr.)

English Literature (3 cr.)

Analyzing & Interpreting Literature (3 cr.)

Humanities (6 cr.)

$80 + local proctor fee (~$20) Official CLEP Page
Excelsior College Exam (ECE / Uexcel) Introduction to Music (3 cr.) $110 + $60 local proctor fee Official Uexcel Page
Saylor NONE $0 + $25 webcam proctor fee Official Saylor Page


Non-College ACE Credit Courses

(last update:  04/07/2017)

Shmoop American Literature (3 cr.)

The Bible as Literature (3 cr.)

British Literature (3 cr.)

Contemporary Literature (3 cr.)

Drugs in Literature (3 cr.)

Holocaust Literature (3 cr.)

Introduction to Poetry (3 cr.)

Literature in the Media (3 cr.)

Modernist Literature (3 cr.)

Shakespeare’s Plays (3 cr.)

Western Literature (3 cr.)

Women’s Literature (3 cr.)

$87.68/mo. subscribe

Unlimited courses

Shmoop Introduction to Humanities (3 cr.) $199/mo. subscribe. Limit 2 courses per month
Propero (Pearson) Literature (3 cr.) $330 per class Propero
Sophia Visual Communications (3 cr.)

Introduction to Art History (3 cr.)

$329 per class Sophia
Straighterline NONE $99/mo. subscribe + $59 per class Straighterline
Ed4Credit Literature (3 cr.)

Film Appreciation (3 cr.)

$195 per class Ed4Credit
Davar Academy (NCCRS approved, not ACE approved) NONE $70 per class + $25 web proctoring  Davar


Posted in business, Curriculum, High School

Entrepreneurship in High School

     Welcome everyone, this is a very special post because it’s appearing in 2 blogs 3 blogs!  In addition to appearing here on the Homeschooling for College Credit page, I also have the honor of sharing it at 5 Major Steps, the page owned by my friend LeAnn Gregory.    She and I share the sense of urgency to prepare our teens for the next chapter of their lives, but our blog audiences are very different.   My readers are mainly homeschooling families who are strategically injecting college credit into their homeschool curriculum.  LeAnn’s readers come from a variety of school settings and are working to make wise choices about what to study in college and where to attend.  As if that weren’t awesome enough, my long time CLEP-friend and homeschool teacher Cheri Frame published my 3-month curriculum in her blog Credits Before College.  Regardless of which blog brought you here, where your children attend school, and what direction they’re headed, thank you for reading today!  ~Jennifer

Entrepreneur:  A person who organizes,  manages, or owns an enterprise, especially a business.


My 4 sons (currently ages 12, 16, 18, 22), have all run simple businesses and shown strong entrepreneurial drive from a very early age- with no prompting from me AT ALL.  I have, however, done my best to encourage this behavior because my husband and I support the idea of self-employment.   I think most parents are led to believe that they should always encourage entrepreneurism in kids and teens, however, the idea of “working for yourself” is really a philosophical position, and may not mesh well with the principles you’ve chosen to emphasize in your children.   So, before we continue, it’s a good idea to think about how your family really views entrepreneurism.  Is it something to be discouraged or encouraged? Do you support the idea of your son or daughter building a business, or would you rather they worked for someone else’s business?  Doe the insecurity of starting a business bring out your own passion? Or fear?

The fact is, that if everyone were an entrepreneur, we’d have no real economy.  We’d have no small, medium, or large companies of any kind.  Think about the two entrepreneurs who founded Google: Larry Page and Sergey Brin.  Though two men started the company, Google employs 72,000 people!  These employees earn a nice living, are highly educated, and are part of a global company that changed the world.  So clearly, we need entrepreneurs AND we need employees!  As we go forward, know that neither path is “better” than the other.  If your teen doesn’t have an entrepreneurial drive- so what?!  That’s fine!  In today’s post, we’ll look at ways to encourage the teens that DO have that drive, and I’ll provide you with some high quality (free) resources you can use  at home.  At this point in your teen’s life, you may already have a feeling about whether or not they desire to become an entrepreneur.  If you’re not sure, here are some clues:


  • Wants autonomy over their saving and spending of money.

  • Takes pride in earning their own money.

  • Likes to find the best deal on something they want to buy.

  • Makes deals and trades from a young age with siblings or friends.

  • Looks for ways to profit from deals and trades.

  • Finds their own solution to problems so they can get what they want or need. (movies, car, phone, sneakers, etc.)

  • Has their own ideas for running a small business (walking dogs, mowing, babysitting).

  • Follows through on their ideas for businesses or earning money.

  • Doesn’t require pushing or encouragement to earn money.

  • Doesn’t require pushing or encouragement to start a business.

  • Strategizes and sets goals to get the things they want.

  • Views themselves as capable of starting a small business.



Do any of those traits sound familiar?  I remember when my sons were very young, seated around their car track rug.  They each set up their own car lot and dealership.  After hours and hours of serious negotiation, each had negotiated and traded for their own selection of cars.   I don’t think they ever “played cars” on the rug by driving them around,  for them, it was all business- all the time.  Sometimes the negotiations were heated, but I always let them work out the deals. I was the parent, but I stayed out of their business.  In other words, I listened and corrected any bad behavior (rudeness, mean words) but I always stayed completely out of trading and deal making.  Afterall, I get that nobody wanted the ugly blue one with the wobbly wheel, or the slow purple one with a flower one hood…but they had to end up in someone’s lot, so trading was usually serious business.  I never minimized the importance of my kid’s learning business through play.  Kids learn early on whether or not it’s ok to ask for what you want, negotiate, trade, escalate a deal, make compromises, close a deal, and leave the table with dignity.  How we respond sends the message loud and clear.  Negotiating was how my kids played cars.

Trading and deal-making is the game.


     A byproduct of letting your teen spend (waste) their money, is that they learn how to spend money wisely.  In our house, we have some family rules for giving and saving, but what’s left is 100% theirs to spend (waste) as they choose.  I realize this is probably a big counter-intuitive parenting tip, but when you control the teen’s spending, they never feel the sting that comes from poor planning or lack of budgeting.  Natural consequences are the best teacher, and when your teen has to choose between a night out with friends or buying a new pair of jeans, they’ll have the opportunity to develop their “wisdom muscle.”  If my teen spends $10 on something that they later regret, that’s an inexpensive life lesson: I don’t have to say a thing.  Life was their teacher. I’ll happily let them squander $10 so they later don’t misspend $10,000.   Let’s face it, adults don’t have nearly as much trouble saving as they have learning how to spend money properly and carefully.  Learning about budgeting when you’re 5 is better than when you’re 15, but learning at 15 is SO MUCH better than when you’re 25, 35, 45, 55…. you’ve heard the ages of Dave Ramsey callers, right?

My older teens have successfully worked hard, saved, and spent their money on the thing they each wanted.  Besides their own small businesses, they are old enough that they’ve also held paying jobs as employees (lifeguard, dishwasher, server, etc.)  My older two love nice cars, and set that as their goal.  From selecting, negotiating, buying, registering, maintaining, insuring, etc. their cars are 100% their responsibility.   Taking responsibility has given them tremendous pride of ownership in how they operate and care for their vehicles.

matt's car 1
(Matt’s Mustang). Just so no one thinks his mom paid for his car!
One of several cars purchased by Jennifer’s sons WITH CASH.  (Alex’s Jeep)


Teaching your teens about money, business, and entrepreneurship is a fun and valuable opportunity that gives them important skills throughout their life!  For 10th grade, I cobbled together a fun homeschool curriculum based around the popular TV show Shark Tank, and an free online courses from MIT.

NOTE: the free MIT courses are open access, do not issue grades, won’t give you access to a teacher, and are considered “personal enrichment.” The do offer a very expensive verification credential, but I’ve never bought one because even with the credential, college credit is not awarded.  

We followed this outline loosely- in other words, every day included a little bit of


reading, a little bit of the class, a video or two, and an entry into their business journal.  I’ve intentionally left it loose to allow flexibility.  I’ll leave it up to you, but I also required a “lab” in which my son had to start and operate a small business for the semester.  He chose to custom paint and sell skateboards.  It was a lot of work, and he learned a great deal.  I highly recommend incorporating a business venture if possible.  If they create a business, have them keep track of their challenges and progress using a simple notebook/journal.

College Credit:  0

High School Credit (for homeschoolers):  1/2 Credit

Length of Time:  1 semester (3 months)

Month 1

Daily Lessons

MIT Entrepreneurship 101 online course

Reading List

  1. Disciplined Entrepreneurship, Bill Aulet  (MIT Professor teaching the series)
  2. Cold Hard Truth, Kevin O’Leary (Shark Tank)


  1. Shark Tank (Airs weekly on ABC, or available on
  2. Economics U$A (videos 1-9)

Month 2

Daily Lessons

MIT Entrepreneurship 102 online course

Reading List

  1. Display of Power, Daymond John (Shark Tank)
  2. Driven, Robert Herjavec (Shark Tank)


  1. Shark Tank (Airs weekly on ABC, or available on
  2. Economics U$A (videos 10-19)

Month 3

Daily Lessons

MIT Entrepreneurship 103 online course

Reading List

  1. How I win at the Sport of Business, Mark Cuban (Shark Tank)
  2. Use What You’ve Got, Business Lessons Learned from My Mom, Barbara Corcoran


  1. Shark Tank (Airs weekly on ABC, or available on
  2. Economics U$A (videos 20-28)


In closing, let me leave you with a final suggestion- Foundations in Personal Finance is the high school curriculum written by Dave Ramsey.  It specifically emphasizes the principles he teaches adults, but with a teen-friendly approach.  This isn’t an affiliate link, I’m in no way associated with this product, I just happen to believe it’s fantastic. Foundations in Personal Finance High School Curriculum You can view the first chapter here: video.



Posted in CLEP, Credit by Exam, Curriculum

Used Book Buying Guide

Do you need to buy the current edition CLEP prep book?  Nope!  Why?  Read on…

All CLEP exams are worth college credit because they have undergone review by ACE.  ACE is the third-party review organization that colleges use to decide if a class or exam is “worth” college credit or not.  When ACE reviews an exam, they always assign a date range for that review.  In order for an exam to be refreshed, revised, or updated, it must undergo a new review.  When a new review happens, the ACE Database is updated!

So, the list below shows the current exam date ranges for each of the college-credit eligible exams.  Exam date changes are very important to test takers, so that’s one of the many things I track closely.

It is possible for CLEP to do a revision today, but while it undergoes review, they’ll have to continue to use the current exam.  Once the revised exam “passes” for credit, the database is updated, and the new exam goes into effect.  Therefore, we don’t usually know about an edition change until the database is updated or unless CLEP (College Board) puts out a press release.  So, be aware that this can happen anytime.

All date ranges and the history of date ranges are available by searching the ACE Database.

2 Parts of CLEP Prep

  1. The curriculum.  As a homeschool parent, you’ll likely want your teen to learn the material before taking a CLEP exam.  Let’s say your teen is learning American Government and American Literature this year, and you’d like her to try the CLEP tests.  The curriculum that you use for those subjects can be any brand, published any time, and new or used.  The curriculum is your choice.  You’ll want to visit the Official CLEP Website to be sure your curriculum covers similar content as they’ll be tested on, but in general, you can use anything you like.

  2. Test prep.  The test prep material dates are very important.  Test prep isn’t teaching new information, rather it is telling your teen what topics from their class will be on the test, and the distribution (percentages) they’ll need to know.   When exams are revised, not only can the topics tested change, but the distribution can change.  Knowing if a topic makes up 2% or 32% is a big deal.   In this case, you’ll always want to be sure the test prep books were published since the exam revision!

Based on the current exam edition of American Government, any test prep book written after 7/1/01 will be accurate.  For American Literature, however, the test prep book needs to have been written after 3/1/15 to be accurate.  Again, curriculum can be older, but test prep materials must match the current exam version.

American Government  7/1/01- 11/30/18

American Literature  3/1/15 – 11/30/18

Analyzing and Interpreting Literature  3/1/15-11/30/18

Biology  7/1/01- 11/30/18

Calculus 10/1/12 – 11/30/18

Chemistry 7/1/01- 11/30/18

College Algebra 1/1/07 – 11/30/18

College Composition (essay) 7/1/10 – 11/30/18

College Modular (no essay) 3/1/15 – 11/30/ 18

College Math 3/1/15 – 11/30/18

English Literature 3/1/15 – 11/30/18

Financial Accounting 1/1/07 – 11/30/18

French Language 3/1/15 – 11/30/18

German Language 3/1/15 – 11/30/18

History of the United States I 7/1/01- 11/30/18

History of the United States II 7/1/01- 11/30/18

Human Growth and Development 11/1/06 – 11/30/18

Humanities 3/1/15 – 11/30/18

Information Systems 10/1/12 – 11/30/18

Intro. Educational Psychology 10/1/12 – 11/30/18

Intro. Business Law 5/1/02 – 11/30/18

Intro. Psychology 10/1/12 – 11/30/18

Intro. Sociology 10/1/12 – 11/30/18

Natural Sciences 7/1/01- 11/30/18

Precalculus 10/1/12 – 11/30/18

Princ. of Macroeconomics 10/1/12 – 11/30/18

Princ. of Microeconomics 10/1/12 – 11/30/18

Princ. of Management 3/1/15 – 11/30/18

Princ. of Marketing 10/1/12 – 11/30/18

Social Science and History 3/1/16 – 2/28/19

Spanish Language 3/1/15 – 11/30/18

Western Civ.I 7/1/01- 11/30/18

Western Civ. II 7/1/01- 11/30/18

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