Posted in High School, Math, Transcripts

Math Success 4 Math Averse

So, if you already feel yourself mounting a reaction to the title, this post isn’t for you.  Like anything you’re good at, you can’t imagine that other people can’t “become” good at it too… if they only had a better attitude, different curriculum, a better teacher, etc.  STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) are all the rage – most universities have watched their STEM-majors double in the past few years, so there is a ton of emphasis on not only high school math, but college-level math in high school.  Sure, with 10,000 hours it’s possible to become an expert in anything.  This is not that. Continue reading “Math Success 4 Math Averse”

Posted in Career Planning, College Majors, High School

Unlimited Time, Talent, and Resources

The motivational/inspirational quote always goes something like this:

“What would you do if you had unlimited time, talent, or resources?  Do that!” 

If you love that quote, you’re not alone. But you might not appreciate this post very much, and I want to talk to you about how time, talent, and resources fit into the homeschooling for college credit journey. Continue reading “Unlimited Time, Talent, and Resources”

Posted in College Admission, Debt Free Degree, High School, Scholarships

Stupid Girl – What Was She Thinking?

Nine out of ten families decide that their children are college material as early as the day they sign up for preschool. In 2014, a kindergarten play was shelved so the 5-year olds could prep for college.  We’ve created a sense of urgency around college admissions and attendance at all costs. Continue reading “Stupid Girl – What Was She Thinking?”

Posted in Distance Learning, Dual Enrollment, High School

What will they say?

When I started homeschooling 24 years ago, a lot of people had opinions about our children’s education. After you homeschool for a number of years, and it’s working well, you start to realize that non-traditional college options might be worth considering too.  After all, you’ve already discovered that “one-size-fits-all-education” is a myth, what if “one-size-fits-all-college” is also a myth? Continue reading “What will they say?”

Posted in High School, Resources, Transcripts

Transcript Resource Page

It’s only the most important homeschool document you’ll ever create!  No pressure.

hard-cover-book-mockup PSD 09

Be sure to read Chapter 7 of Homeschooling for College Credit (2nd edition).

Families who have a lot of college credit often worry about how to record credit earned through dual enrollment, CLEP, or ACE.  Our families also want to be sure they are assigning the proper letter grades, calculating their GPA accurately, and not missing any key essentials.

If you’re really starting from scratch, my advice is to read the full chapter, do a template on your computer (tutorial below if you don’t have one), and just dive in.  The other tools on this page will help you calculate GPA and fine tune your work, but getting something down on paper is really the first step.


FAQs

  • Length?  1 page
  • Titles?  Keep them simple.
  • Fonts and colors?  Resist the urge.
  • + and – grades?   Only if you like doing extra math.
  • To weigh or not to weigh?  When in doubt, do it both ways.
  • 1 college course taken at a college with a grade = 1 high school credit.
  • Brand names shouldn’t appear on a high school transcript.
  • Test scores (PSAT, SAT, ACT, CLEP, AP, etc.) shouldn’t appear on a transcript because it’s a FERPA violation.
  • Remember that the transcript is only one part of the application!

Homeschooling for College Credit Classes

Live Workshop

This live online workshop is taught by Jennifer Cook-DeRosa and is open to anyone. The focus is specifically helping families understand how different types of college credit should be presented on a high school transcript as well as the possible problems you’ll encounter and how to avoid them.  Scheduled a few times per year.  Live Events

Template Demo (Recorded)

This 30-minute recorded template building demonstration is taught by Jennifer Cook-DeRosa and is open to anyone.  The workshop is free and on demand – complete on your schedule. Using Microsoft Word or Open Office, the focus of this class is to build a template that you can use to create your own homeschool transcript.  Build it Now!


Other Transcript Template Resources

  • The “How To Homeschool” website allows you to create a pdf document that can then be printed or saved on your computer.  The only downside is that your info isn’t saved. Transcript template
  • Home School Legal Defense Association has a wonderful section about transcripts on their website. Some of it is public, and some requires a membership, but you can also purchase a transcript template from their site.  HSLDA Transcript Resource Page
  • FastTranscript has a special HS4CC promotional code that is good for 25% off the monthly The Essentials Plan which regularly costs $7.95. Use HS4CC at checkout.

GPA Calculation Tools

The easiest GPA calculator is Back2College   SUPER easy to use, I’ve used it for at least 5 years.  Totally free, but it is really just a calculator.  They use a standard 4.0 grading scale, so if you’re planning to use a different weighted grade scale, this isn’t the best site.  Also, you can’t save anything – it’s just to help you do the math.

Alternative GPA calculator if you use weighted grades  GPA Calculator

Not sure if you should weight the GPA or not?  Explore the pros and cons here.


Need advice?  Email Jennifer directly if you have a quick question.  (use form below)

Need editing or GPA help?  Experts are available for hire if you need your transcript edited, GPA calculated, or more technical support.  (use form below)

Mockups in Hipster Room (35)

Posted in Dual Enrollment, High School, HS4CC

Are 4 college classes too many?

If you’re using dual enrollment in high school, you’re probably faced with the problem of figuring out how many college credits vs high school credits your teen can balance and still pull good grades.  This is no small problem because college classes leave a paper trail!  In short- it’s part of their permanent record. Continue reading “Are 4 college classes too many?”

Posted in High School, Math, Transcripts

Math Success 4 Math Averse

So, if you already feel yourself mounting a reaction to the title, this post isn’t for you.  Like anything you’re good at, you can’t imagine that other people can’t “become” good at it too… if they only had a better attitude, different curriculum, a better teacher, etc.  STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) are all the rage – most universities have watched their STEM-majors double in the past few years, so there is a ton of emphasis on not only high school math, but college-level math in high school.  Sure, with 10,000 hours it’s possible to become an expert in anything.  This is not that. Continue reading “Math Success 4 Math Averse”

Posted in CLEP, High School

CLEP for 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th Grades

If you’re planning CLEP exams as part of your teen’s high school journey, you’re probably worried about selecting a first, or next, exam.  Should your teen take Natural Sciences or Chemistry?  Humanities or American Literature?  When is the best time to take Composition?  Since my goal is to help you become your child’s best guidance counselor, I’m going to give you the tools to make that call yourself!

Through my own testing journey, I’ve found that CLEP exams tend to represent one of two exam types:

CLEP Exam Types

  1. Individual subjects
  2. Cumulative subjects

 

CLEP Exam Types

How and when your teen prepares for any given exam depends first on the exam type.  This is actually a really big deal- and may make the difference between success and failure!

An individual subject is one that you can approach with no pre-existing knowledge about the subject, and learn it well enough to pass an exam.  A few examples of these exam types are American Literature or Sociology.  In both cases, you can start learning from scratch without any kind of disadvantage.

An example of a cumulative subject is one that does require prior knowledge.  Exams in this category include College Algebra or Spanish.  In the case of College Algebra, you can’t begin the study of the subject without previous math preparation (ideally completion of Algebra 2) and in the case of Spanish, you’ll have to learn Spanish before taking the exam.  In both cases, where you start is a significant factor in determining how fast and how easily you can learn the material.

Why should you care?  Because in order to choose the best time for your teen to take a specific course/exam, you need to know where it best fits into your homeschool program.

Some exams fall neatly into categories, others can go either way.  I’ve sorted them for you.  Exams in the “Decide for Yourself” category are multi-disciplinary or require at least familiarity with elementary content before approaching the subject at the college level.  Meaning they incorporate more than one subject.    The exam titles in the list are active links,  so you can click the title to explore the content decide for yourself.

Clearly Individual Subject Exams

Clearly Cumulative Subjects


 

Tips for Individual Subjects & Exam Prep

  • Learning creates the foundation of knowledge, test prep memorizes facts and figures.  Make a learning plan that includes both.
  • If your teen typically studies one subject at a time, estimate 1 month of learning and test prep for each subject.  (Monday-Friday about 3-4 hours per day = about 60 hours, or 1/2 high school credit)
  • If your teen typically studies multiple subjects at a time, estimate about 60 hours divided over the course of your block, trimester, semester, or unit that you use.
  • I’ve never met someone who told me they were over-prepared for their exam.  When in doubt, allow a little extra time.
  • Some subjects offer exams in 2 parts (US History, Western Civ., Economics) and lend themselves to a full year of high school study.  The mid-year point is a good time to take the first exam, end of year is a good time to take the second exam.
  • Keep in mind all CLEP subjects are 100/200 level college learning- that makes availability of resources abundant!!  Discarded textbooks, thrift store finds, and online MOOCs are excellent sources of learning material. Learning material doesn’t have to be current.
  • Exam prep material should match the current edition of the exam so your test prep matches what they’ll be tested on.
  • Group subjects together to build on knowledge (Psychology, Educational Psychology, Human Growth and Development all have some cross-over)
  • Start with a subject your teen likes.
  • If the reading level isn’t at or above the 12th-grade level, learning the content might not be enough to pass.  Study the subject now, continue to work on reading level, and take the test in a year or two when the reading level is higher.

Tips for Cumulative Subjects & Exam Prep

  • You’ll want to investigate what pre-existing knowledge is necessary to learn the subject.  For instance, Calculus requires first knowing Precalculus which first requires College Algebra which first requires Algebra 2 (high school).  The exam prep material assumes all preexisting knowledge is in place.
  • All college level sciences require a good foundation in high school level sciences.  For instance, college-level chemistry assumes knowledge of high school level biology and chemistry as well as algebra.  Starting from scratch for CLEP Chemistry will be exceptionally challenging without that base- but not impossible.
  • Both composition exams and the Analyzing Literature exam assume strong command of college-level language (reading and writing).  If you use standardized tests in your homeschool, your student should be testing beyond 12th grade Language Arts before you begin exam prep.
  • Foreign Language CLEP exams cover 2 semesters of college foreign language.  Your teen should have completed at least high school level 1 and probably 2 before attempting.

Now that you have a good understanding of if an exam will make up a subject in your homeschool, or if it will follow a year or more of study, you’re ready to make a schedule!

In short, only YOU can decide where CLEP exams make sense in your homeschool schedule.  It’s based on what they’ve done, and what they plan to do in the coming years.  In part, it also helps to know if you’re planning to use dual enrollment options, and whether or not they have zeroed in on a college major.  The more information you have, the more specific you can be – but being uncertain isn’t a reason to do nothing.  If you have a teen with the knowledge, a CLEP exam can be a wonderful “final exam” in the bank.  The exam scores can be held for 20 years before being used, so the risk/reward ratio really supports testing while its fresh in their mind.

This is only ONE sample of how a family might inject CLEP credit into their homeschool.

SAMPLE 9th GRADE SCHEDULE

9th Grade
Subject Area Semester 1 Semester 2 CLEP Exam
ENGLISH 9th Grade English 9th Grade English (N/A)
MATH Algebra 1 Algebra 1 (N/A)
SCIENCE Survey Science Survey Science (N/A)
HISTORY United States History United States History U.S. History 1

U.S. History 2

FOREIGN LANGUAGE Spanish 1 Spanish 1 (N/A)
ELECTIVE Typing Photography (N/A)

In this sample, we are laying a foundation for future exams in English, Math, Spanish, and Science….but we’re not there yet.  We are going to allow some foundational learning to happen first, and then we’ll inject college credit when our teen is better prepared.  Instead, in this year, we are using a full year curriculum for United States History, and taking the U.S. History 1 exam at the half-way point, and then U.S. History 2 at the conclusion of the school year.  These two exams work perfectly together!


SAMPLE 10th GRADE SCHEDULE

10th Grade
Subject Area Semester 1 Semester 2 CLEP Exam
ENGLISH 10th Grade English 10th Grade English (N/A)
MATH Algebra 2 Algebra 2 (N/A)
SCIENCE Biology Biology Biology CLEP
HISTORY World History World History (N/A)
FOREIGN LANGUAGE Spanish 2 Spanish 2 Spanish -maybe?
ELECTIVE Physical Education Health (N/A)

In this year, we continue to develop English and Math skills but are attempting two very big CLEP exams.  Both Biology and Spanish cover a full year of content, so we’ll play this by ear.  If our teen isn’t a solid “A” student, we may wish to eliminate the exams from our girl4plan or wait until later to attempt the CLEP.  Spanish is a tough call because if you’re only allowing 2 years of study, it’s now or never.  On the other hand, a 3rd or 4th year of Spanish would be ideal since we’re aiming for a high score (Level 2).  On the other hand, if we stop now, we have time to learn a second language.  As we go into 11th grade, we may have the added option of taking college courses through dual enrollment, which throws a monkey wrench into things a bit.  For the purpose of this sample, we’ll assume you’re only using CLEP.


SAMPLE 11th GRADE SCHEDULE

11th Grade
Subject Area Semester 1 Semester 2 CLEP Exam
ENGLISH 11th Grade English 11th Grade English (N/A)
MATH College Algebra with PreCalculus College Algebra with PreCalculus College Math

College Algebra

SCIENCE Chemistry Chemistry Natural Sciences

Chemistry

HISTORY Western Civ. I Western Civ. II Western Civ. I

Western Civ. II

ELECTIVE American Literature American Literature American Literature

Analyzing & Interpreting Lit.

ELECTIVE Music Appreciation Art Appreciation Humanities

We are experiencing major traction now.  In fact, while the CLEP exams all align perfectly to the subjects on the schedule, it may be too aggressive for all but the most motivated students.  I included them anyway so you could see how it fits together.  If you’ll take a moment to look at the SCIENCE row, the Natural Science CLEP exam would be perfect at the close of the 1st semester because that exam is 50% biology (taken last year) and 25% chemistry – a student with solid knowledge of biology and a cursory knowledge of chemistry can pass this exam without addressing the physics segment.  Chemistry, as its own exam, is difficult and should only be considered after a full year of robust chemistry study.  If I could also draw your attention to Humanities, that exam requires knowledge of music and art, but also a lot of the Western Civilization knowledge intersects with this exam, making it a perfect fit for this schedule.


NO SAMPLE 12th GRADE SCHEDULE

At this point, my advice is that you’ll select remaining courses and exams that align with a target college.  College policy, awarding of credit, and accepted exams should all make their way into the conversation when selecting a college.  It’s reasonable that a college might not take all your teen’s hard work, but if a college doesn’t accept most of it, you may want to reconsider!  An encouragement to choose wisely comes from my friend Carol.  She allowed me to share her story with you.   We just saved $96,780

And by the way, were you keeping count?  How many potential college credits does the 11th grader in the sample have?

60

Our teen also took a total of 13 exams (I included Spanish) over the course of 3 years. Since CLEP exams cost about $100 each, the total financial investment was about $1300.

Currently CLEP exams are FREE through Modern States – literally $0 no limit.

Since a family can pay as they go, it allows most people to budget and plan for a good portion of their teen’s college education well ahead of time!  Not to mention the savings associated with books, meals, dorms, etc. that happen later.

Assuming the sample student attends a college that accepts all 60 credits, our sample student will have 2 years completed toward their bachelor’s degree, may have already earned an associate’s degree.  (We still have 12th grade left, and can fill in courses for a degree if we want)

For those wondering about the cost savings, you may want to calculate your potential savings based on the kind of college your teen may attend.  In general, if a college credit costs $325, your teen earned 60 of them for $1,300 over 3 years instead of paying (or borrowing) $19,500.  Now THAT’S something to get excited about!


You might also like to read a few of my other posts about CLEP:
Posted in Blue Collar, High School, working

Blue Collar Homeschool

 


Today’s post features a homeschooling site (and Facebook group) run by a friend of mine and a long time friend to Homeschooling for College Credit- Cindy LaJoy.  Her page is called Blue Collar Homeschool, and I’m so excited to share it with all of you.

But wait, doesn’t the notion of “blue collar” conflict with earning college credit?  Heck no! In fact, injecting college credit into a homeschool program doesn’t mean you only focus on a certain type of education.  One thing I’ve learned by meeting thousands of parents my Facebook page is that trying to “define” what successful homeschooling looks like is a fool’s errand.

First, let me introduce you to Cindy and her homeschool family:

“We are “Team LaJoy”!  We believe that the family that works together AND plays together, stays together!  All of our kids have experienced public education, either in the United States or in orphanage schools overseas.  All love learning at home, and the cindyability to work at their own pace.  In our homeschool we have done a wide variety of experiential and traditional learning, with our kids doing such things as studying interior design, purchasing and refurbishing a home that was bank owned, learning about Profit and Loss statements as they help with our businesses, traveling the Lewis and Clark trail, building sheds, pottery, flying planes, and volunteering at the animal shelter, the library, the food bank, the homeless shelter and our local nursing home.  We have been out in the world, as well as dedicated to class around our kitchen table! “

Cindy is one of those fantastically enthusiastic people with a lot of passion.  When we first spoke, she told me her children had challenges.  The topic of our conversation wasn’t homeschooling,  but I underestimated HER challenges.  Her children include a mix of Dysgraphia, English as a Second Language, Central Auditory Processing Disorder, Gifted and Talented, suspected Dyscalculia, Sensory Processing Disorder, Developmental Delay, Executive Function Disorders, and Speech Impairments.

Moving into high school with our kids and thinking about their futures, it was easy to see that there was an underserved group, and that was families like us…families who had kids not destined for college, who had access to few resources that truly “fit” their child’s needs.  Few homeschool online groups speak to those parents of kids whose career aspirations do not include a degree, leaving us feeling inadequately equipped, and as if we are somehow underachievers.   I began to develop a passion for helping our kids see the wide variety of career possibilities, not at the sake of eliminating college, but for seeing there were even more choices.”

If I can take a moment to distract you from Cindy’s specific story, I want to caution you against making the mistake that professional guidance counselors make all the time. They “track” students into paths based on early test scores and grades.  In my own past, I was “guided” into food service from the moment I set foot in high school. My test scores were average, clearly not “college material.”  After learning about Advanced Placement (AP) I had to get special permission to take an AP course in 10th grade (which required my parent’s signature to go against professional advice).   My point is that it’s easy to default into the old idea that underachievers go to vocational school and “smart” kids go to college.  We have an entire population of kids with part of a college degree who are unemployable because they can read Latin but can’t put together an Ikea bookshelf.

We need “smart” kids in trades too!

If you’ve never heard of Mike Rowe, he’s the champion of blue collar.  His own liberal arts education (BA in Communications from Towson University) and career as an opera singer make him an unlikely advocate for the trades, but you might know him better as the host of Dirty Jobs.

My ALL TIME FAVORITE youtube interview is Dirty Job’s Mike Rowe on the High Cost of College (full interview below).  Mike Rowe explains how he thinks we’ve gotten off course by encouraging every child to attend a 4-year college.

 “if we’re lending money that we don’t have, to kids who really have no hope of paying it back, in order to train them for jobs that clearly don’t exist, I might suggest that we’ve gone around the bend a little bit.”  -Mike Rowe


If you want to incorporate some blue-collar classes into your curriculum, or maybe even help your teen select a career in one of the trades, I’m going to list a combination of resources that Cindy pulled together as well as a few of my own.  (and some of them are even for college credit!)

Apprenticeship in the USA

Considering a Gap Year? List of resources

High School Curriculum – electives

Research any career using REAL DATA

Vocational Schools and Training Resources

 

 

Posted in financial aid, High School, Resources, Scholarships, working

100 Employer / Employee Scholarships

 

Parents:  check with Human Resources immediately!  Scholarship application deadlines are sometimes a year in advance.

Who qualifies?

It depends.  In some cases, a parent’s dependents are eligible to apply, but in other cases, the teen must be an employee.  If you or your teen already work for one of these companies, simply contact your Human Resources department and ask for more information. Continue reading “100 Employer / Employee Scholarships”

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 they started to include the eBook with each course’s tuition, so we ended up not spending anything on textbooks after the first month!)

You can read about the basics of using Straighterline in your homeschool, and how I picked their courses in my post. Straighterline Dissected: What to Take

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.
  • 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 an AP course on your transcript.  Taking an AP course and AP exam are two separate things and you can do either or both if you like.   If you’re sure that the ACE credit offered via Straighterline will be counted by your target college, the AP exam won’t give you “extra” credit – you’ll only get credit for one, but if you’re unsure or just want to take the AP exam for some other reasons, you’ll want to make sure you do extra study for the AP exam and find a high school that allows homeschoolers to register. You’ll need to register no later than October of the year prior to testing. Read more about AP  Advanced Placement Exam (AP)

 

Posted in CLEP, College Admission, High School

We just saved $96,780

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

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

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

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


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

It’s -seriously- phenomenal.  Read on…


2017–18 Tuition & Fees 

The University of Northwestern St. Paul

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

TOTAL …………………………………..$43,404

 

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

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


Secondary savings and benefits gained by Carol’s plan:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


 

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

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

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

4 credits College Composition CLEP ($100)

4 credits Western Civilization CLEP ($100) 

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

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

TOTAL INVESTMENT:  $600


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

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


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


Reader D.M. sent me this lovely note:

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