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

$2000 Bachelor’s Degrees in NC

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

-Jayne L., North Carolina homeschooling parent.

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

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

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

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

You have to plan ahead

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

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


High School (Grades 9 & 10)

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

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

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

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

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High School (Grades 11 & 12)

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

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

or

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

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

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

-Yvonne, Homeschooling for College Credit North Carolina Facebook Moderator

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

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

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

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

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

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

-NC Homeschooling Parent

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

FALL 11th GRADE

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

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

 What’s on the AA or AS Pathway?


 

Off Pathway- On Degree

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

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


 High School and College Graduation

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

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

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

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

Tuition Cost for AA / AS Degree:  $0



Onward to the Bachelor’s Degree

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Distance Learning Programs at Promise Schools (2018)

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

Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC

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

The University of North Carolina, Pembroke, NC

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

Elizabeth State University, Elizabeth City, NC

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

Tuition Cost for AA / AS Degree:  $0

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

Tuition Total:  $2,000


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

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

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

  –Denise W., NC homeschooling parent


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

– Jennifer Brauns Anthony, NC homeschooling parent


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

-Jackie P., NC homeschooling parent

Posted in Dual Enrollment

Dual Enrollment Colleges

Like homeschooling, there is no “one policy” for our entire country – A family in North Carolina enjoys free dual enrollment, while their friends in South Carolina pay a hefty fee- so if your state doesn’t provide an affordable option for your teen and you want them to take college courses in high school, you may want to look outside your state. 

Many colleges offer “distance learning” dual enrollment opportunities to any teen- you don’t have to live in that state!  (The schools on this all do)  In addition, you’ll want to be sure to use wisdom about choosing courses that will transfer into your teen’s future target college.  The #1 criteria colleges use for transfer credit is Regional Accreditation -every college on this list is Regionally Accredited, which is to say they meet the minimum standard.  There is no “higher” accreditation than regional, but a college ultimately decides for itself whether or not to accept transfer credit.  If you’d like to dive deeper into transfer credit, this transfer guide will help

Also, schools review and revise their policies from time to time, so if you notice a mistake, let us know.  We strive to keep this list up to date!  

Finally, comparing options can be frustrating, so if you’re not already in your state’s Homeschooling for College Credit Facebook group, I would highly recommend it so you can communicate with other families in your state.  That’s the best way to find out what’s available locally before you have to go outside your area.  The best resource we have is the collection of our shared effort.


Bluefield College (Bluefield, Virginia)

Type of school:  Private 4 year regionally accredited Christian college

Delivery: on campus or online

Called:  Dual Enrollment

Assessment scores required:  No

Cost for out of state:  $175 per course ($58 per credit)

Books: additional cost

Course offerings:  selected courses

NOTE:  Residents of UT, NY, WI, KY, RI, NJ not eligible

Meg G, a parent from our FB group, has this to say:  “My son is in his second year of Dual Enrollment on the Associate’s in General Studies track at Bluefield, and he is also a senior in high school. He earned 27-semester credits at BC last year. During his first year at BC, Bluefield was great, but now in his second year, we’ve discovered some negatives… PROS: 1.) Inexpensive 2.) No testing required for admission, and no testing required for English and Math courses.  3.) Challenging coursework but doable. 4.) Small class size and professors are accessible. 4.) 8-week terms which is perfect for holding my sons’ attention and interest. 5.) Accepts CLEP, DTTS, and ACE credits. 6.) Christian college but does not push their philosophy on students.  CONS: 1.) VERY INFLEXIBLE about course substitutions. (My son got closed out of most of his required classes this fall, and BC would not allow him to substitute one of THEIR OWN literature courses for the literature course that he needed.) 2.) Will not accept courses from other colleges unless they match exactly the course that they offer. 3.) They (the registrar) often lose paperwork and do not reply back quickly…At least that’s what our experience has been.”


Bryan College (Dayton, Tennessee)

Type of school:  Private 4 year regionally accredited Christian college

Delivery: On campus or online

Called:  Dual Enrollment

Assessment scores required:  Yes

Cost for out of state:  $166/credit.  TN students receive a special grant scholarship reducing tuition by 99%.

Books: additional cost

Course offerings:  selected offerings

NOTE:  Allow dual enrolled students in the study abroad program


Liberty University (Lynchburg, Virginia)

Type of school:  Private 4 year regionally accredited Christian college

Delivery: Online

Called:  Dual Enrollment

Assessment scores required:  No

Cost for out of state:  $182/credit.

Books: additional cost

Course offerings:  selected offerings

NOTE:  Students must be in 10th grade or higher (no age restriction)


New Mexico Junior College (Hobbs, New Mexico)

Type of school:  Public 2 year regionally accredited community college

Delivery:  on campus or online

Called: Concurrent Enrollment

Assessment scores required:  Yes

Cost for out of state:  $64 per credit (1-11 credits) $768 flat rate (12+ credits)

Books:  additional cost

Course offerings:  access to full catalog


Troy University (Troy, Alabama)

Type of school: Public 4 year regionally accredited university

Delivery: Online

Called:  Accelerate

Assessment scores required:  minimum score of 20 on the ACT, 950 on the SAT, or recommendation letter from a high school counselor.

Cost for out of state:  $169/credit.

Books: additional cost

Course offerings:  selected offerings

NOTE:  Students must be in 10th grade or higher (no age restriction)


Oral Roberts University

Type of school: Private Christian 4 year regionally accredited university

Delivery:  online and on campus

Called:  ORU Advantage

Cost for out of state:  $250 per class

Books:  additional cost

Courses offered: choose from list

NOTE:  No age requirement, no entrance exams


Brigham Young University

Type of school:  Private LDS 4 year regionally accredited university

Delivery:  Independent study (start/finish any time)

Called:  BYU Independent Study

Cost for out of state:  $188 per credit

Books: additional cost

Courses offered:  choose from Independent Study Catalog (550 classes)

Note:  AP Courses also available


 

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 the school year 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 (100%) 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, Dual Enrollment, High School

Predicting Credit Placement

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

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

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

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

  1. Accepted Credit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The following subjects are usually classified as LIBERAL ARTS

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

The following subjects are usually NOT classified as LIBERAL ARTS

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

Student Success / Study Skills / Intro to College / Orientation

Posted in Dual Enrollment, Free Tuition

Dual Enrollment Advice from Parents

I recently as the parents on Homeschooling for College Credit’s Facebook page to share their experiences with dual enrollment, and any advice they might have for parents considering it for their teens.

Dual enrollment is enrolling in a college credit course, usually through a college, and counting it also as a high school course.  Popular dual enrollment courses include English 101, College Algebra, United States History, and others.

Parent comments: 
Mark Mandel We are wrapping up Maecroeconomics with certell and have applied for dual credit through Colorado. It’s pretty cool program and well recommended.
Karen SidurFirst class just finished. We are trying to sign up for another but are waitlisted. They don’t make it easy that’s for sure.
  •  Jennifer’s comment:  at most colleges, dual enrollment students are the bottom of the pecking order, and preference will go to the college’s regular students.  My only advice is to try and register the first day you’re allowed, and even consider a second college to use as your “back up” provider.
Sarah Burns Weiser My daughter is finishing 7 credits at Messiah College. Very positive experience but expectation of a high level of writing skills. She had excellent preparation from a co-op class she had taken so it was ok, but would be a shock for people not prepared for the writing. The other students and professors were very welcoming and inclusive.
Heather JonesMy DD14 completed college algebra at the local CC. She was already familiar with the content, but had to learn time management and how to do quality work even when bored. I’m thrilled we could rent the textbook, rather than buying it, and hope to rent for future classes.
Kristy Hassler Huddle For us it was a huge success. It was his first semester and he did extremely well.
Mary Lynn StimpsonMy daughter just finished her 3rd semester of community college for dual enrollment (they call it concurrent enrollment at her college). She did really well and will graduate in may with her high school diploma and her associate’s degree at the same time. I highly recommend it if it’s not too stressful for your child. I don’t think the courses were much more difficult than high school courses. It’s much more economical than a 4 year college (which I hope she will transfer to complete her bachelor’s).
  • Jennifer’s comment:  Good point about dual enrollment having more than one name.  I’ve found dozens of different names, and usually, a state tends to call it the same thing.  For instance, if you’re in Georgia, your state calls all dual enrollment “Move on When Ready” and if you’re in North Carolina, it’s called “Career and College Promise.”  If you can’t find “dual enrollment” for your state, it might be called something else.
Lori Trentanelli17 yr old just finished Intro to Japanese. Big success, especially for a person who took her time sampling various foreign languages. She organized a study group, which plans to continue meeting.
Teresa CavenderI have 2 dual enrolled high schoolers.
On campus is much more engaging than online.
Spread out heavy reading/writing courses.
Apply/register early.
Get as much face time with professor (even with online courses, if possible).
Don’t get overwhelmed with the process /paperwork from registering. It boils down to a few documents, but the email and explanation can seem daunting!!
Don’t pass it up. It will save you THOUSANDS of dollars in the end. Like getting a scholarship without the essay. Lol!
  • Jennifer’s comment:  Thousands! That’s right.  In a handful of states, dual enrollment opportunities are FREE tuition, in a couple you even get free books and fees.  If this applies to you, the can mean your costs for 2 years of college = $0
  • For students that have to pay dual enrollment tuition, you’re paying the community college rate, which is typically 1/4 to 1/3 the cost of a typical 4-year college rate. In addition, your teen is living at home, so the living expenses associated with 2 years in a dorm are eliminated.
  • A far-reaching benefit, but for those edu-nerds like myself, an important one:  you get a better return on investment (ROI) when you complete college credit in high school.  Every credit your teen earns early puts them in the industry one year sooner.  For students in high-paying professions like nursing, medicine, engineering, etc. that means an extra 1-2-3+ years of full salary ahead of their peers.

Karen Dutton Realize that your child will be in regular college classes with adults, and that topics, assignments, and discussions will not be altered because of your child’s age, so they should be both academically and emotionally ready. The average age of a student in classes at our community college is 25. The student needs to be able to handle interactions with the professor on their own as you probably won’t have access.

Leah Johnson Stanford Daughter currently in her first semester of dual enrollment. We settled on online due to local university doesn’t allow until senior year and local cc have no price break for homeschoolers. She is taking Eng 101, American Government, and Fine Arts this fall. So far positive, but the work load is intense. Best advice watch due dates and work ahead when possible. My daughter is getting assignments turned in early to allow more free time to have extra study time to prepare for tests.

Lori Andersson Dual enrollment was the best decision we ever made. My high schooler will be nearly finished with his AA by the time I issue his high school diploma, and every core class he takes, I also count toward high school credit.

Lisa Tatum Ga is very de friendly for homeschoolers. We get free tuition and free books. Most colleges also waive the additional fees. My son has taken 7 de classes so far.

 

 

Parents and teens have to decide which subjects make sense, and choose carefully.  You can’t duplicate credit, so taking US History as a dual enrolled student means you can’t also get AP credit for US History – you have to choose.

Posted in AP Advanced Placement, CLEP, Credit by Exam, Dual Enrollment, Foreign Language, Self-Paced Learning

Foreign Language for College Credit

ANY non-English language can be tested for college credit, even if English is your second language. For those starting early enough and developing fluency, foreign language exams as a whole offer the largest return on investment of ANY college credit exam option!  A high score earns up to 16 credits (NYU-Foreign Language Proficiency) and costs as less than $6 per college credit (ACTFL written).

If a student completes French 101 and French 201 for college credit through dual enrollment, the French CLEP or AP exams would probably not provide any new or higher credit since they duplicate the effort.  Check with your dual enrollment college for clarity.

ADVANCED PLACEMENT: Languages – Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Latin, and Spanish. Tested on – reading, writing, listening and speaking (this is the only exam that tests ALL 4 AREAS, making it the hardest exam of the bunch). Credit awarded: 0-16 based on language and score (only Chinese is worth 16, most max out at 8). Some colleges award zero credit, but award “advanced standing” in the language. The score is reported on an official College Board transcript. Cost $92 AP Exams

ACTFL WRITTEN: Languages- Albanian, Arabic, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish. Tested on- reading and writing only (no listening or speaking). Credit awarded 2-12 based on the score. The score must be recorded on your ACE transcript. Cost $105 Written exam

ACTFL ORAL: 50+ languages. Tested on- listening and speaking only (no reading or writing). Credit awarded 2-12 based on the score. The score must be recorded on your ACE transcript. Cost $$50-159 Oral Exam

CLEP: Languages- French, German, and Spanish. Tested on- reading, listening, and speaking only (no writing). Credit awarded 6-9 based on the score. Note – students who took this exam before October of 2015 may be eligible for more credit since that version was worth 6-12 credits at the time. The score is reported on an official College Board transcript. Cost $80 CLEP Exam

NYU-FLP: 50+ languages (see list below). Tested on – reading, writing, and listening (no speaking). Credit awarded 12-16 depending on the score. The score is reported by letter to your designated recipient. This exam is not ACE evaluated, but many colleges will still award college credit. In cases where no college credit is granted, the score report can still verify proficiency with employers/resume. Cost $300-$400 NYU Exam

American Sign Language is frequently used by parents as their teen’s high school foreign language, however, at this time I know of no way to roll that into college credit without taking it through a college.  If you’re looking for an ASL course, I have been told that the Rocket Sign Language course is an affordable option.

NYU-FLP CLEP ACTFL oral ACTFL written Advanced Placement  
Yes Yes No Yes Yes Reading
Yes No No Yes Yes Writing
Yes Yes Yes No Yes Listening
No No Yes No Yes Speaking
12-16 6-9 2-12 2-12 0-8 Number of credits possible
$300-$400 $80 $139 $70 $92 Cost
$25.00 $8.88 $11.58 $5.83 $11.50 Cost per Credit Max Score

NYU-FLP language list:

Afrikaans, Albanian,Arabic, Armenian, Bengali, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Cantonese, Catalan, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek(Modern), Gujarat, HaitianCreole, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Ibo, Icelandic, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Lithuanian, Malay, Mandarin, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese(Brazilian), Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Tagalog, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Vietnamese, Yiddish, Yoruba

 

Curriculum

These curriculum options would fulfill the homeschool high school language requirement/credit, and you could choose to follow the year(s) with a credit by exam option above.  Remember, that you cannot duplicate credit, so dual enrollment already awards college credit, these resources would either supplement a dual enrollment program, provide strictly high school credit, or be used for an entirely different language.

  • FREE ONLINE:  A free product you can use in your homeschool and is super easy is Duolingo. I did an experiment on Facebook using Duolingo every day for a year.  While I didn’t become fluent, it was easy to use and my teens enjoyed it too.  Duolingo  It is very much like Rosetta Stone in my opinion.  They currently offer about 20 languages.
  • DVD & STREAMING:  Many DVD course options, as well as streaming options, are available through The Great Courses (DVD) and The Great Courses Plus (streaming).  I’ve recently learned that you can even stream your Great Courses through your Roku.  The Great Courses offer many courses, but through the (cheaper) streaming option you can access:  Latin 101, Greek 101, and Spanish101.
  • ONLINE COURSES:  A large company that provides many online foreign language courses (including sign language) is Rocket Language.  They have monthly plans as well as one-time purchase options.  Specializing in Spanish is Synergy Spanish which seems to have a really good feedback rating as well.
  • SKYPE LESSONS:  In March 2017, I shared contact information for a college student teaching foreign language instruction in Spanish, Russian, and Arabic via Skype.  You can reach out to him if you’d like to investigate his services.  Russian, Arabic, and Spanish for College Credit
  • UDEMY:  An open online marketplace for people to teach classes.  You can find a ton of very inexpensive courses taught by many instructors.  Read about Udemy

 

Military Career Tip (extra pay!):  According to Defense Pay Regulation, Volume 7A, Chapter 19,  Military members who have received training in a foreign language and are assigned to a job requiring foreign language skills receive a monthly Foreign Language Proficiency Pay. It depends on upon the level of proficiency maintained. Additionally, other military members who are proficient in a language that the Department of Defense considers to be critical may also receive this monthly pay, as long as they maintain proficiency in the language.

Posted in Curriculum, Distance Learning, Dual Enrollment

The Great Books (48 UL Credits)

UPDATE:  The Western Civilization Foundation’s Courses expired with ACE on 06/2017.  These courses are currently NOT worth college credit.  If this changes, I will update the page. 


It’s not cheap*, it’s not fast, it’s not easy – but it is a homeschooling for college credit option! The Great Books program consists of eight semesters (four years) of online classes meeting 2 hours per week, September-May, discussing the reading from one of the great classics of Western civilization – Great Books – done that week.  The structure follows a typical 4-year high school set up, but you’d have to provide everything else (Math, Science, etc.)
*While researching this program, I found a FREE online open resource for K-12 Great Books study.  I don’t think it is enough to stand alone as a substitute for this program, but it certainly contains enough resources to DIY a program!  The Great Books Free Resources
The curriculum contains LOTS of reading and writing. You must be 14 to enroll, but interestingly, there is no upper age limit. No other entry requirements listed. Regarding the program, I reviewed a parent-submitted Sample Schedule and it freaked me out just a little.  My Master’s program was less work.  No, really.  I expect the majority of students in the program are also devoting a great deal of time to learning Latin.
Who will like this kind of program?  I think this program is most like Classical Conversations in approach (very classical, Latin, very academic, the Trivium approach) but without the group meeting requirement.  The online option means you can do it from anywhere it in the world that has an internet connection.  That appeals to many families, especially those that are turned off by the meeting requirements of Classical Conversations.
How many books?  Depending on the reference you check, it’s about 150.  To give you an idea of the type of books, here are the first 20 (listed chronologically on Wikipedia)
  1. HomerIliad; Odyssey
  2. The Old Testament
  3. Aeschylus – Tragedies
  4. Sophocles – Tragedies
  5. HerodotusHistories
  6. Euripides – Tragedies
  7. ThucydidesHistory of the Peloponnesian War
  8. Hippocrates – Medical Writings
  9. Aristophanes – Comedies
  10. Plato – Dialogues
  11. Aristotle – Works
  12. Epicurus – “Letter to Herodotus”; “Letter to Menoecus”
  13. EuclidElements
  14. Archimedes – Works
  15. ApolloniusConics
  16. Cicero – Works (esp. Orations; On Friendship; On Old Age; Republic; Laws; Tusculan Disputations; Offices)
  17. LucretiusOn the Nature of Things
  18. Virgil – Works (esp. Aeneid)
  19. Horace – Works (esp. Odes and Epodes; The Art of Poetry)
  20. LivyHistory of Rome
Here’s the big deal…the end result is 48 UPPER-LEVEL college credits (ACE).
Upper-level college credit is REALLY, REALLY, REALLY HARD TO GET while homeschooling in high school.  In fact, it’s the hardest type of credit to get.  (Reading The Great Books, also pretty hard.)
What can you do with 48 upper-level credits in humanities/liberal arts/religion/literature?  In theory, that credit exceeds the requirement for a major at any of The BIG 3 colleges. I have not *yet* met anyone who finished this program and submitted their credit for evaluation.  If you have, tell me about it.  Based on past behavior of the Big 3, this is the type of credit they always accept, so I put it in the “excellent” transfer-ability category when earning a Liberal Arts/ Liberal Studies / Humanities / Literature  / Religion degree.  When applying to a traditional or elite college, the likelihood of transfer is limited to small.

If you’re not interested in The Great Books as the foundation of your high school program, but like the idea of a college degree, there is an ENTIRE college degree option built around the Great Books.  Thomas Aquinas College (California) holds Regional Accreditation (the golden standard) and is very homeschool friendly.  Their degree in Liberal Arts is typically considered preparatory for graduate study in medicine, law, education, etc.

If your student studies Latin, be sure they attempt the Latin exam options for college credit.  Foreign Language for College Credit