Posted in Dual Enrollment

College Writing: Boosting Word Count

If your teen is taking a college course that requires writing forum posts, essays, or research papers with specific word count (200 words, 500 words, 750 words, etc.)  I have a few tips that can help them meet their goal.

Note:  this is not a replacement for actually writing a paper!  There is no replacement for good content, but if your teen just finished a well-crafted paper and has fallen a few words short, these quick tips can help squeeze out an extra 25-30 words without generating new content or a lot of stress.

Get in the habit of…

  1. Taking out all contractions.  Every “won’t” and “haven’t” should be replaced with “will not” or “have not.”  If you’ve used 10 contractions, you can add 10 more words by replacing them!  (While many teachers won’t care, it is considered more appropriate in academic writing to avoid contractions anyway, so do this even if your word count is on point)
  2. Taking out numbers and replacing them with words.  This won’t work on dates or long numbers, but in cases where you’re using a simple 0-10 number (5 steps, 10 cases, 9 dogs) you should use words.  Notice in tip #1 above, I wrote the number “10” two times?  By replacing the number 10 with the word “ten” instead, I’ve added two more words to the word count.  (See? I did it with “two” also!)  Like the first tip, it is considered more appropriate to do this in academic writing, so while your teacher may not care, it’s still a good habit to get into.
  3. Add the phrase “according to ___(textbook/person)___” when making a statement of fact.  This introduction will lengthen a sentence.  Depending on the academic style requested by the teacher, you may or may not also add a citation at the end of a sentence – but using the above phrasing adds credibility as well as a few more words.
  4. Like tip #3, you can take apply this approach when stating your opinion.  “in my opinion” in front of any opinion statements not only adds three words, but it tells the teacher that you’re drawing an opinion.  Teachers like opinions, they demonstrate that a student is thinking about a problem.
  5. “In conclusion” is a great way to start the final paragraph.  It adds two words, and it helps the reader understand that the summary is coming.

If you’re scrambling….

  1. Every paper needs headers and footers.  If your paper is 3 or fewer pages long, this tip will add about a dozen words.  A header will have your name, the paper’s title, and date (or whatever your teacher asked for).  When you use a program like MS Word, you have the option of creating a header that will automatically appear on every page.  This is great when you’re writing a long paper, but if you’re trying to boost word count, you’ll want to avoid this feature.  Instead, type the header manually at the top of each page.  This keeps it in the foreground and will be included in the word count.  Automatically generated headers are in the background and not part of the word count.   The same is true for page number/footer.  Instead of letting the computer write “page 2” at the bottom using the automatic footer (background), writing it in manually adds word count (foreground).
  2. Add 2-3 more references.  Depending on the teacher’s grading software, the words that make up the references are usually counted by a computer.  The computer counter doesn’t always know the difference, which will allow the paper to pass through the automatic word count filter.  While some teachers will specify that word count excludes references, this isn’t always the case.  If your teacher is a stickler for details (and highly motivated), they’ll manually count the words in your references and subtract it from their computer’s word count.   I would suggest avoiding this tip if your teacher specifically tells you how many references to use, but if they don’t, then it’s reasonable to have 1-3 references per finished page length.  (2 page paper = 2-6 references)
Posted in Dual Enrollment, High School, Transfer Credit

Dual Enrollment Basics

Member question(s):  How does one go about starting dual enrollment?  I’ve seen posts of homeschoolers as young as 15 who are enrolled in dual credit classes, however, I am still not certain if there is an age limit for them to enroll?


This answer isn’t going to cover all of it, but it will give you the basics and get you pointed in the right direction.

First, let’s define dual enrollment:  it may be called something different in your state, but the general concept is that the student earns dual (double) credit for their work in one course. 

Example:  Your 12th-grade teen signs up at ABC Community College and takes English 101.  As the homeschool parent, you award them high school credit for their work (12th-grade English) and the college awards them college credit (English 101).  It’s double dipping!  2 birds with 1 stone!

Access to Dual Enrollment

There are several “levels” of dual enrollment access, and most of the time it depends on the state you’re homeschooling in. In the most restrictive states, there is no dual enrollment allowed for homeschoolers at all– you need a high school diploma/GED to take college classes. Keep in mind this is a standard college entrance policy, so this isn’t really doing anything wrong, but they are not lowering their admissions and granting access- so in other words, dual enrollment is a privilege being extended to students, allowing them to enroll in advance of meeting regular entrance requirements.  As such, not everyone gets this privilege.

Here are variations of privilege you’ll find as you search the public community college procedures in all 50 states:

  • It’s not allowed for high school students of any type.
  • It’s “allowed” if you’re in public/private school, but not homeschool.
  • It’s allowed for everyone, but you have to pay full tuition (Illinois).
  • It’s allowed, but the state tells you how many credits/courses you can take (Ohio).
  • It’s allowed, and the state provides a tuition waiver for reduced tuition.
  • It’s allowed, and the individual school decides if tuition is reduced. (South Carolina)
  • It’s allowed, and it’s free for all high school students. (Georgia, North Carolina)

Now, once you step outside of public community colleges, you’ll enter into the private school arena, where anything goes.  Private schools almost always charge full price tuition, however, some state programs extend their waivers to be used at private colleges (Ohio) but this is not the norm.  Even in states where dual enrollment has full access and is completely free (North Carolina) you won’t see this benefit extended to private colleges.

Age to Qualify

And yes, you guessed it, it differs greatly.  Most states that extend dual enrollment require the student to be in 11th or 12th grade.  Some exceptions exist, like our friends in Florida who can enter as early as 6th grade!  Expect the college to require a copy of your transcript and some type of test score- whether it’s the ACT, SAT, PSAT, or one of the college’s own tests (Accuplacer, Compass).  Not all states require test scores for entry (North Carolina, for example, only requires test scores for some programs) but it is generally the norm.

In every case, graduating high school ends your dual enrollment eligibility, and you’d switch over to a regular dual enrollment student if you continue at that college.  If you plan to attend a different college, you’d apply there as a regular incoming freshman.

Transfer Student vs Freshman Applicant

The word “transfer” has more than one meaning in college, which confuses the heck out of people, and rightfully so.

Parents want to know if their teen’s dual enrollment credit “will transfer” to a 4-year college later, and the answer is generally “yes.”  That definition of “transfer” is different than the definition of “transfer student.”

First, let’s talk about a transfer student.  A transfer student is a high school graduate that attended another college, accumulated some credit, and then applied to a different college.  While it “feels” like this includes dual enrollment students, (your teen did just graduate, they did attend a college, they did earn some credit, and they are applying to a different college) your high school graduate is not a transfer student as a result of accumulating college credit.  The distinction is when college credit was earned, and in the case of dual enrollment, it was earned pre-high school diploma.  Therefore, your student is not a transfer student.

This is always a hot question because transfer students don’t always have the same access to housing, scholarships, etc. as a freshman applicant.  As such, it’s a lazy answer for me to tell you “so check the college your teen is considering just to be sure.”  The problem with giving that canned answer is it undermines the parent’s confidence in using dual enrollment (which is amazing) and it implies that there are some colleges in both categories, and it’s a coin toss what will happen to their teen.  Let me put that fear to rest.

I would NEVER lie to you and tell you that I’ve looked up every college policy for dual enrollment every year for the past decade, and that and that I’m certain that you’ll never encounter an inconsistency from what I’m telling you- what I will tell you is that I spend a LOT of time digging into this question, and I’ve never found a single college that treats dual enrollment credit as transfer credit.  Not 1.  Ever.  So, while it’s true, that the unicorn may exist, I’ve never seen it.  Thousands of college policies, year after year, I’m still waiting to find an exception.  As such, if YOU find one, I want to know- I need to know! I want the readers to know.


A simple rule of thumb: 

classes taken pre-high school diploma:  dual enrollment

classes taken post-high school diploma:  transfer credit


Finding Dual Enrollment in Your State

Dual enrollment privileges and funding can change from year to year, and I don’t have a good resource list to share with you.  As fast as lists are written, changes occur, and lists are outdated (!)  Furthermore, when you do your own research, it isn’t enough to find out if your state offers dual enrollment, you need to find out if your homeschool student is eligible. Unfortunately, homeschoolers are not always eligible.

When I research dual enrollment, the BEST document that I start with was written by The Education Commission of the States and has a ton of good information.  (Start there)  It’s from 2015, and so it’s 2 academic years old at this point.  If an updated edition becomes available, I’ll post it here.  Here is the page for Alabama.  They have pages for each state:

Alabama
Program Basics
Statewide policy in place Yes
Definition or title of program Dual Enrollment
Where courses provided
  • At high school
  • At postsecondary institution
  • Virtual program
Postsecondary and/or secondary credit earned Both
Students may take developmental/remedial coursework for dual credit No
CTE component Yes. Students at two-year colleges may enroll in academic, career and technical or health science courses.

Local boards may elect to participate in the Early College Enrollment Program (ECEP), a dual enrollment program for career and technical education students in grades 11 and 12.

Students who do not have a minimum “B” average but who have demonstrated ability to benefit as documented by successful completion and placement identification on assessments approved by the department of postsecondary education are limited to pursuing career/technical and health-related courses.

Unique characteristics Private school and homeschool students may also establish dual enrollment agreements with postsecondary institutions.Students in grades 10-12 who do not meet the eligibility requirement of a “B” average in high school courses may be determined eligible to participate in dual enrollment “pending demonstrated ability to benefit as documented by successful completion and placement identification on assessments approved by the department of postsecondary education” (includes ASSET, WorkKeys, CPAT). Such students are limited to pursuing career/technical and health-related courses, and must have “a ‘B’ average in high school courses related to the occupational/technical studies, if applicable, which the student intends to pursue at the postsecondary level and” have an overall 2.5 grade point average.

The state department of education must work with districts with the lowest high school graduation rates to implement dropout prevention interventions. One of the interventions the department may implement is offering full course fee waivers to students eligible for free/reduced lunch who are enrolled in dual credit courses. The department must submit a written report to the legislature on the outcomes of dropout prevention strategies, and any planned modification of school system dropout prevention strategies and activities, based on the data compiled.

Homeschooling for College Credit Facebook State Groups

You should join your state’s group and try to connect with people in your state/community. This is how we can create the best and most up to the minute help for each other.  State groups range from small to large, active to quiet, so the best way to add to the body of knowledge is to invite others who may want to contribute to or benefit from discussing college credit options!  Find Your HS4CC State Group Here

No Dual Enrollment?

If you don’t have access to dual enrollment, you may be able to enroll your teen in a different state’s program.  The New Mexico Community College system is open to 11th and 12th-grade homeschool students, and their courses generally transfer back to your own state.  They are a popular choice since their system is the lowest cost in the country- about $50 per credit for out od state students.

Another popular option is DIY Dual Enrollment, which operates outside the college system entirely.  In this case, the parent provides curriculum and instruction, followed by a standardized exam like CLEP.  I have a lot to say about CLEP vs Dual Enrollment, so I made a short seminar for you on the topic:

 

Posted in CLEP, Credit by Exam, Dual Enrollment

Exceptional Potential

If your teen graduates high school with even one college credit, he’s ahead!  

That’s the message I want our members to remember, but for a few of you, your teens will have exceptional motivation, and for those students, there are amazing possibilities ahead!!  Completing a degree while simultaneously completing high school is not to be underestimated.  It takes a strong and consistent adherence to academics, resourceful and creative planning by the parent, and a cooperative relationship between the teen and the parent.  In addition to all of that, you need to find a school that will allow such pursuit.

In today’s post, I want to highlight a young man in Louisiana who did it!  He earned his high school diploma and Associate’s Degree this month at the same time.  What makes his story extraordinary, is that he didn’t start earning college credit until 12th grade!

Original story:  McNeese Spring Graduate

Highlights:

“Joseph is the first ever early admission and dual enrollment student who will complete an associate degree from McNeese at the same time that he is graduating from high school,” says Betty Anderson, director of community services, outreach and the dual enrollment program coordinator at McNeese.”

“Joseph purchased the Western Civilization II textbook, read it in two days and passed the CLEP test,” says Anderson. “Anyone who can read and master a college textbook in two days has great potential.”

“Dual enrollment also helped him improve his scores on college entrance exams. After his science courses, McKinney reports that his ACT science score went up “six points.” This, plus the boost in his math scores from taking McNeese’s calculus course, helped him to qualify for a McNeese Presidential Scholarship.”


 

As you investigate CLEP exams, know that they are one brand of a category called “Credit by Exam.”  Sometimes called CBE, credit by exam allows your teen to take an exam, and in exchange, their passing score is recognized as equivalent to college credit at a college or university.  The exam replaces your teen’s need to take that course, saving time, money, books, and 16 weeks of homework!

Before I ever used a CLEP exam in my own home, I took more than 20 myself- I wanted to see how hard they were, and if they were “real” ways to earn college credit.  In 2008, I earned an Associate Degree in General Studies by testing out of that entire degree (just to see if it could be done) and it really changed my life in so many ways after that.

Testing out of a whole degree may not make sense for most of you reading this, but it doesn’t have to.  Most community colleges and a good portion of universities award credit for successful completion of a CLEP, AP, or DSST exam (and a few others).  Even passing 1 exam in high school can make a big difference!

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

Microbiology

Business Ethics

$99

$49

$25

$69

-$20 coupon

-$20 coupon

9
January Membership

Cultural Anthropology

Medical Terminology

Introduction to Nutrition

$99

$49

$49

$49

9
February Membership

English Composition I

English Composition II

$99

$69

$69

6
March Membership

Environmental Science

American Government

Introduction to Psychology

$99

$59

$59

$59

-$49 coupon 9
April Membership

Chemistry I

Introduction to Business

$99

$59

$59

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

-$139 coupons

$1237

39

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 liked 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 liked 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 4 Straighterline courses are also accredited as AP Courses. These are the SAME COURSE that is in their catalog, but if you take it, you can list the AP designation on your homeschool transcript.  Courses that qualify as AP are:

  • English 1
  • Psychology
  • Microeconomics
  • Macroeconomics

And no, you don’t have to take the AP exam to list AP on your transcript.  You CAN of course, but if you’re sure that the ACE credit offered via Straighterline will do, you don’t have to.  Some of you may want AP scores for other reasons- so that’s fine, but we skipped them.

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

Community College in the News

NPR Want to Finish College?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

degree

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

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

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

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


 

For homeschooled high school teens:

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

For homeschool graduates:

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

Referenced:  Center for Community College Student Engagement 2017 National Report

 

Posted in Breaking News, Dual Enrollment, Free Tuition, Science, Self-Paced Learning, Straighterline

*FREE Straighterline Labs, AP, and $3/credit classes through 6/3/17*

If you currently have an active Straighterline account – I want to share an unexpectedly great deal I just discovered today!

As you may know, there is a current Straighterline code through June 3rd for $50 off (enter code Homeschool50 at checkout.)  I used it for #2 son, but not #3, because #3 won’t have time to complete another class before summer break and I hate wasting time just as much as wasting money.

On a whim, I called Straighterline and asked what would happen to a class that I purchased now but we didn’t get to use.  They told me it would sit in our account FOREVER.  I wasn’t sure she understood my question, so I clearly explained that we were closing our account for summer vacation.  She assured me that purchased courses are in our a=jumpccount forever, will never expire, and will never disappear when we close our account.  So, in the fall, if I reactivate his account, it would be ready and be waiting for him to pick up where he left off!

What that means:  Active members (those currently paying the $99/month fee) should purchase one of the following courses using the HOMESCHOOL50 code before June 3rd or before your account membership expires- whichever happens first.   This short list contains the least expensive SL courses, that when the code is applied, brings the cost down to $0 – $9 each!!  That price is not per credit, it’s for the ENTIRE course PLUS the required e-book/textbook. The code can only be used one time per account.


Free Straighterline Labs

The student must purchase the lab kit on their own!

  • Anatomy & Physiology I Lab (1 credit) $0
  • Anatomy & Physiology II Lab (1 credit) $0
  • General Chemistry Lab (1 credit) $0
  • General Physics Lab (1 credit) $0
  • Biology Lab (1 credit) $0

AP Classes

Straigherline is an approved provider of 4 Advanced Placement classes.  Completion of one of these courses allows you to list the course on your homeschool transcript as Advanced Placement.  Taking an AP exam is optional and the responsibility of the student.

  • Macroeconomics (Counts as an official AP High School Course) (3 credits) $9
  • Microeconomics (Counts as an official AP High School Course)  (3 credits) $9
  • Intro. to Psychology (Counts as an official AP High School Course) (3 credits) $9

College Classes for $3 per Credit or Less!

  • Introduction to Statistics (3 credits) $0
  • Accounting I  (3 credits) $9
  • Accounting II (3 credits) $9
  • Business Ethics (3 credits) $9
  • Business Law (3 credits) $9
  • Business Statistics (3 credits) $9
  • Financial Accounting (3 credits) $9
  • Macroeconomics (3 credits) $9
  • Managerial Accounting (3 credits) $9
  • Microeconomics (3 credits) $9
  • Organizational Behavior (3 credits) $9
  • Personal Finance (3 credits) $9
  • Principles of Management (3 credits) $9
  • Anatomy & Physiology I (3 credits) $9
  • Anatomy & Physiology II (3 credits) $9
  • Medical Terminology (3 credits) $9
  • Microbiology Lab (1 credit) $0
  • Pharmacology I (3 credits) $9
  • Pharmacology II (3 credits) $9
  • American Government (3 credits) $9
  • Cultural Anthropology (3 credits) $9
  • Introduction to Criminal Justice (3 credits) $9
  • Introduction to Philosophy (3 credits) $9
  • Introduction to Religion (3 credits) $9
  • US History I (3 credits) $9
  • US History II (3 credits) $9
  • Western Civ I (3 credits) $9
  • Western Civ II (3 credits) $9
  • College Algebra (3 credits) $9
  • PreCalculus (3 credits) $9
  • General Chemistry (3 credits) $9
  • Environmental Science (3 credits) $9
  • Introduction to Nutrition (3 credits) $9
  • Intro. to Psychology  (3 credits) $9
  • Introduction to Sociology (3 credits) $9

If you want help picking a class my post  Straighterline Dissected: What to Take should help a great deal!

 

 

 

 

 

Note:  Non-subscribers or inactive members can do everything in this post, but you’ll have to pay to restart your subscription fee ($99) so this is NOT a good deal unless you were already planning to enroll your student at this time. In addition, you should know about the pros and cons of using SL in your homeschool.  See this post to get started:  Straighterline Basics and explore manyStraighterline posts by clicking the Straighterline tab.   

Posted in College Admission, Dual Enrollment, High School

Predicting Credit Placement

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

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

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

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

  1. Accepted Credit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The following subjects are usually classified as LIBERAL ARTS

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

The following subjects are usually NOT classified as LIBERAL ARTS

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

Student Success / Study Skills / Intro to College / Orientation