Posted in CLEP, Resources, Self-Paced Learning

Modern States for CLEP & AP

Modern States is a new, totally free, mini-curriculum that is aligned specifically to CLEPwindow exams.   Their AP catalog is really just a collection of MOOCs that they’ve assembled in one place.  Still, a great resource.  I want to tell you how much I love them, but instead, I’ll tell you that I like them, but I have problems with their marketing.

Modern States Official Website

When you visit their site, you’ll notice their tagline “Freshman Year for Free.”  Before we go forward, I want to help you understand what Modern States is, and what it isn’t – as much as I want to promote this new opportunity for parents and teens, I can’t understand why they aren’t more transparent – the nuances of college credit aren’t easy to grasp, so to be less than clear does everyone a disservice.

Their website:

“Take tuition-free, high quality courses online from top institutions for college credit.”

In my opinion, this statement is really misleading because you’re not taking courses from a top institution for college credit.  You’re taking courses developed by Modern States for you to learn independently.  In the case of the AP courses, you’re simply taking an open courseware course.

Make no mistake, you are not an enrolled student at a college when you take courses through Modern States.  Further, the courses themselves do not award college credit in any way.  There is no direct ACE credit (as is the case with Saylor, Straighterline, or Studycom) and you must also pass a CLEP exam that is accepted by your receiving college in order to earn college credit.  In short?  It’s CLEP prep.

As a CLEP-prep resource?  It’s great!  These mini-courses are meant to fit into your busy (homeschool) schedule.  Estimated completion at 6 hours per week is 4 weeks.  A big benefit to parents is that they can either offer this as an accelerated course, or there is enough time in the school year to use this as a “final quarter” course that follows a traditional homeschool curriculum.  It really depends on the subject, and how important it is to you that your teen get a full-robust experience.  Doing Modern States alone will not provide enough contact hours, homework, writing, research, etc. to merit counting as a full course for most parents.  On the other hand, not every subject needs depth, so in that case, you would be fine.

You have to dig- but once you get into the site and visit their FAQ page, allllll the way down at the bottom you’ll get the real truth.  There is nothing to be ashamed of, I’m not sure why this isn’t on the front page?

“How does it work?

Modern States offers free, high-quality online courses taught by college professors that prepare you for virtually all of the major AP and CLEP exams, which are well-established and widely-accepted. Solid performance on the exams (each participating college decides what scores you need for credit) can earn you college credits and enable you to save tuition dollars. You can take one course or many; if you do well on eight exams, you can potentially earn Freshman Year for Free.”

Did I mention the cost?

It’s free.  As in, totally no cost at all. You will, however, have to pay for your CLEP exam, any proctoring fees, and any transfer fees to your college if applicable.

But wait….there’s more.

Modern States is currently running a voucher program.  In short, if you complete the entire Modern States course as outlined in their instructions, you can receive a voucher to pay for your CLEP exam!  The program was initially open to the first 500 people, but they’ve extended time and time again.  My contact with them recently suggested there was “no indication of ending the voucher program anytime soon.”  So, there is plenty of time for you to sign up.   Modern States Voucher Program


 

Their catalog as of today:

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CLEP

American Government

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CLEP

American Literature

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CLEP

Analyzing and Interpreting Literature

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CLEP

Biology

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CLEP

Calculus

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CLEP

Chemistry

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CLEP

College Algebra

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CLEP

College Composition

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CLEP

College Mathematics

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CLEP

English Literature

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CLEP

Financial Accounting

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CLEP

French Language

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CLEP

History of the United States I

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CLEP

History of the United States II

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CLEP

Introduction to Educational Psychology

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CLEP

Human Growth and Development

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CLEP

Humanities

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CLEP

Information Systems

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CLEP

Introductory Business Law

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CLEP

Introductory Psychology

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CLEP

Introductory Sociology

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CLEP

Natural Sciences

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Passing the CLEP and Learning with Modern States

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CLEP

Precalculus

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CLEP

Principles of Macroeconomics

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CLEP

Principles of Management

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CLEP

Principles of Marketing

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CLEP

Principles of Microeconomics

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CLEP

Social Sciences and History

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CLEP

Spanish Language

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CLEP

Western Civilization I: Ancient Near East to 1648

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CLEP

Western Civilization II: 1648 to the Present

AP Courses

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AP

AP Biology – Part 1: The Cell

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AP

AP Biology – Part 2: Genetics

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AP

AP Biology – Part 3: Evolution and Diversity

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AP

AP Biology – Part 4: Ecology

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AP

AP Biology – Part 5: Review and Exam Preparation

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AP

Calculus 1A: Differentiation

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AP

Calculus 1B: Integration

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AP

Calculus 1C: Coordinate Systems & Infinite Series

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AP

AP Calculus BC

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AP

AP Computer Science A: Java Programming

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AP

AP Computer Science A: Java Programming Classes and Objects

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AP

AP Computer Science A: Java Programming Data Structures and Loops

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AP

AP Computer Science A: Java Programming Polymorphism and Advanced Data Structures

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AP

AP English Literature & Composition – Part 1: Stories

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AP

AP English Literature & Composition – Part 2: Poems

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AP

AP English Literature & Composition – Part 3: Plays

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AP

AP Environmental Science – Part 1: The Living World

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AP

AP Environmental Science – Part 2: Populations

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AP

AP Environmental Science – Part 3: Pollution and Resources

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AP

AP Environmental Science – Part 4: Exam Review

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AP

Introduction to AP Human Geography

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AP

Introductory AP Microeconomics

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AP

AP Italian Language and Culture

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AP

AP Macroeconomics

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AP

AP Physics 1 – Part 1: Linear Motion

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AP

AP Physics 1 – Part 2: Rotational Motion

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AP

AP Physics 1 – Part 3: Electricity & Waves

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AP

AP Physics 1 – Part 4: Exam Prep

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AP

AP Physics 2 – Part 1: Fluids and Thermodynamics

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AP

AP Physics 2 – Part 2: Electricity and Magnetism

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AP

AP Physics 2 – Part 3: Optics and Modern Physics

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AP

AP Physics 2 – Part 4: AP Review and Exam Preparation

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AP

AP Psychology – Course 1: What is Psychology?

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AP

AP Psychology – Course 2: How the Brain Works

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AP

AP Psychology – Course 3: How the Mind Works

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AP

AP Psychology – Course 4: How Behavior Works

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AP

AP Psychology – Course 5: Health and Behavior

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AP

AP Psychology – Course 6: Exam Preparation & Review

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AP

AP Spanish Language and Culture

 

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

100 Employer / Employee Scholarships

Last week, I wrote a nice long post demonstrating some of the financial and real-world benefits of Working During College.  At the end of that post was a list of companies that would pay your teen’s tuition while they went to college!

In today’s post, I want to share a list of 100 companies that frequently offer scholarships to their employees or children of employees!

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.

My teen wants a job that isn’t on this list

Working is great, no matter how you slice it, but rather than browsing and hoping to find your teen’s employer, be proactive and talk to them about seeking employment at a company that offers educational benefits through scholarships or tuition reimbursement.  That’s being smart and planning ahead.  A summer job isn’t supposed to be a permanent career that’s deep and rewarding. It’s a nice way to earn some spending money, learn responsibility, develop a work ethic……. and possibly earn a scholarship!

What’s the difference between tuition reimbursement and a scholarship?

Tuition reimbursement generally requires continued employment with the company while you go to school.  When you’ve finished a course, the company writes you a check to reimburse you for the tuition you paid.  Tuition reimbursement can sometimes pay for a full degree, but often has a service requirement or other obligation in exchange for the educational benefit.

Scholarships are awards given to a student for achievement.  Often, these are one-time awards.  Scholarship amounts vary by employer, but it’s not unusual to see scholarship awards for $500 – $2,500.  Typically, a scholarship is a one-time award without further obligation.

I’m seeing a few names that are also on the tuition reimbursement list.

That’s right!  Many companies consider investing in an employee’s education as a very important part of their mission.  According to the Society for Human Resource Management (the largest HR organization in the world), as many as 91% of large companies maintained or increased their educational benefits since 2014.  In contrast, as few as 4% offer any kind of student loan forgiveness program.  In short:  plan to find these benefits before you start college and resort to borrowing.  Among millennials, as many as 1/3 reports falling behind on their student loan payments.  Ouch!

  1. A&W
  2. Abbott Laboratories
  3. Adobe Systems
  4. ADP
  5. Aetna
  6. Alcoa
  7. Amazon.com
  8. American Airlines
  9. American Cancer Society
  10. AT&T
  11. Baxter International
  12. Biogen Idec
  13. BMW Group
  14. Bosch
  15. Build A Bear
  16. Burger King
  17. California Grape Grower
  18. California State University Bakersfield
  19. Capital One Financial
  20. Carmax
  21. CenterPoint Energy
  22. Chevron
  23. Chobani
  24. Citigroup
  25. Community Bankers Assoc. of Illinois
  26. ConocoPhillips
  27. Costco
  28. CPS Energy
  29. Cracker Barrel
  30. CVS Pharmacy
  31. Darden Restaurants
  32. DirecTV
  33. Dish Network
  34. Dominion Resources
  35. Duke Energy Corporation
  36. DuPont
  37. Edison International
  38. Express Scripts
  39. Exxon
  40. GameStop
  41. General Electric
  42. General Mills
  43. Genzyme
  44. H&R Block, Inc.
  45. Harley Davidson
  46. Hewlett- Packard (HP)
  47. Home Depot
  48. Humana
  49. Hyundai Motors
  50. IBM
  51. Intel
  52. J Crew
  53. JetBlue Airways
  54. Kentucky Fried Chicken
  55. L.L. Bean
  56. Land O’ Lakes
  57. Long John Silver’s
  58. Lowe’s
  59. Marathon Petroleum
  60. Mayo Clinic
  61. McDonald’s Corporation
  62. Meijer
  63. Morgan Stanley
  64. Mutual of Omaha
  65. National Roofing Contractors Assoc.
  66. Nordstrom, Inc.
  67. Nucor
  68. Oshkosh
  69. Pacific Gas & Electric
  70. PepsiCo
  71. Pfizer Inc.
  72. Phillips 66
  73. Pizza Hut
  74. Rockwell Collins
  75. Roller Skating Association
  76. SAS
  77. Servco – HI
  78. Southwest Airlines
  79. Starbucks
  80. State Farm
  81. Subway Restaurant
  82. Sunoco
  83. Taco Bell
  84. Texas Instruments
  85. Tj Maxx
  86. Uline
  87. Union Pacific
  88. United Technologies
  89. US Bank
  90. USDA
  91. Valero Energy
  92. Verizon
  93. Vermont Grocers Assoc. Member
  94. Wakefield Healthcare Center
  95. Wal-Mart
  96. Walgreens
  97. Walt Disney
  98. Wells Fargo
  99. Whole Foods
  100. Yum!
Posted in High School, Resources, Transcripts

Transcript Resource Page

It’s only the most important homeschool document you’ll ever create!  I have a few favorite resources that I know you’ll love.  If you want to read my thoughts,  Homeschooling for College Credit, Chapter 7 is dedicated to the creation of transcripts specifically for families earning college credit in high school.

GPA Calculation

My favorite 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.  

Alternative GPA calculator if you use weighted grades  GPA Calculator

Transcript Template

My favorite ready-made transcript template is by How To Homeschool  You can create a pdf document that can be printed or saved, all totally free!  Uses a standard 4.0 grading scale. 

DIY Your Own Transcript

I’ve made my son’s transcripts using Microsoft Word and Open Office.  I’m happy to teach you how to do it too in this free online course I created just for you!

Build it! Homeschooling for College Credit Transcript using MS Word

 

Transcript Services

If you want to use an online template that looks really official, HSLDA offers a transcript service.  Note that they won’t write your transcript for you, rather you enter your data in their system and they store it for 12 months.  While I have not personally used it, I know many who have and were very satisfied with the product.  HSLDA Transcript Service

Transcript Writing Help

HSLDA has a nice section of samples, videos, and tutorials that can walk you through a lot of the basics.  HSLDA Transcript Help page

Not my Favorite

Transcript Pro Software& DVD $189.00

I balanced sharing my negative opinion vs. not saying anything at all, but I opted to share my opinion for this product because of the cost.  The bottom line, if you shell out this kind of money, you’re going to be disappointed.  The full package is $189  ($49 base +$29 for the digital download and an additional $79 for the DVD +$29 for the printable syllabus).  I purchased this program in 2017, but the new version they are selling (version 4) was written in 2009.  Unfortunately, the DVD only teaches you how to use their software, so unless you’ve purchased that too, there is very little for the parent to learn.  The software is locked, and you’ll need a password to open it.  Once open, you can make a total of only 8 transcripts.  You can buy another 8 attempts for $49 more.  Their software operates offline, so no updates to their product are available, and you’ll have to save your files to your computer.  Again, computer technology since 2009 has changed significantly, so it’s a shame that they haven’t moved their product to a web-based platform.  As a result, you’ll not be able to use the program if you have Mac or a mobile device.  It only works (properly) on Windows 98 or Vista, and there isn’t a mobile app, so you’ll need a desktop computer. My advice, this is an extraordinarily expensive product for something that you can do for free on a dozen websites.

Suspicious Colleges

 This article appeared in Inside Higher Education on September 11, 2017.  While the student was NOT a homeschooled student, the article stresses that “anyone” can create a homeschool transcript and pose as a homeschooler.  (Imagine that? For years homeschoolers couldn’t get into college and now students want to pose as homeschoolers!  We’ve come a long way baby!) Still, I suspect that stories like this may become more frequent, and my advice to you is to maintain a file of curriculum content – books, titles, writing samples, workbooks, catalog course descriptions, print out of certificates, etc.  Anything that might help you provide verification if it’s necessary.  It probably won’t be, but better safe than sorry.  That folder is for you – and won’t be part of their application package or written on their transcript, but don’t trust your memory, start a file today.

Revoked Admission, Inside Higher Education (Sept 11, 2017)

Homeschooled Student’s Transcript Might Be for a Cat

Revoked admissions offer by University of Rochester raises questions about lack of oversight of transcripts from homeschooled students. Experts see the real risk is lack of information about curriculum, not fraud.

September 11, 2017

When word spread that the University of Rochester revoked an admissions offer from a student who lied about her high school background, many were stunned by the story. The student had attended a private high school, but she submitted a transcript that said she had been homeschooled. Only when she boasted on social media that she was about to enroll at Rochester, and someone at her high school realized it hadn’t sent the university any information about her, was she caught.

The applicant who lied in this case was not a homeschooler, but someone who attended a private school. Many admissions officers — including those at Rochester — said the incident made them fear that they have limited ways to tell if a transcript from a homeschooled student reflects reality. With transcripts from public or private high schools, the documents are sent by the school. (And in cases where colleges allow students to self-report grades, the institution gets an official copy of the transcript when someone is admitted.)

Fake transcript for Home Acres Academy features Social Security number 123-45-6789 and weighted GPA of 4.0. Courses taken include English, civics, environmental science, Spanish, algebra, European history, biology, geometry, American history and chemistry. Activities include tree-climbing club and fishing club.Comments on the Rochester article suggested that anyone could create a homeschooler transcript, for a student real or imaginary and with grades real or imaginary.

So I tested that, creating a transcript for my childhood pet, a cat named Thomas. I paid $19 to an online service, which got me not only the transcript but a water mark for my faux home school (the name reflects my childhood neighborhood). I followed standard courses for the first three years of high school and added activities that reflected Thomas’s interests. The Social Security number listed (at right) might have been a clue that the student wasn’t real. No verification of any kind was required.

I wrote to Transcript Maker, the service I used, to ask about authentication, and the company wrote back to say that some parents take the transcript to be notarized, but the company provided no information on actual authentication, and asked no questions (except for my credit card number) as I created the transcript. In fairness to the company, its competitors appear to do the same thing — let anyone create a transcript, no questions asked.

What Is the Risk?

So if Rochester received a fake transcript, and one can easily create one, is that a major risk with regard to homeschooled applicants? The issue matters as the number of children being homeschooled has been going up. An Education Department report in 2012 found that the number of homeschooled students was about 1.8 million and increasing.

Tom Green, associate executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, said there is good reason for admissions officers to give scrutiny to homeschoolers’ transcripts, but the real issue isn’t complete fraud, as in the Rochester case.

“I always go back to the question of how often does someone really lie in admissions,” Green said. It may happen, but it’s “pretty rare,” he said.

The more common issue is doubt about whether the grades assigned in homeschooling “reflect what a student would have received in another environment,” Green said.

“The fact is that there’s no independent vetting, and that allows for” grading that may not be accurate, he said. This need not be malice, he said, but just the reality of grading without context or comparisons.

At the same time, Green stressed that over the years in admissions on campuses, he saw many homeschoolers who were well prepared to succeed in college.

Green said that colleges should treat a homeschooler’s transcript much the way they would a transcript from a public or private high school that hadn’t previously been represented in the admissions pool. In the case of a high school, an admissions officer would go online and do some research about the high school, the rigor of its programs and the range of grades awarded.

For a homeschooler, an admissions officer might ask for much more detail about the curriculum — what textbooks were used, what material was covered and so forth. (Some colleges suggest just that, encouraging homeschooled applicants to provide such details or others that can help evaluate a curriculum. Here are suggestions provided by American University and Princeton University.)

Green also said that he paid more attention to SAT or ACT scores with homeschoolers than with others, and that he would recommend that admissions officers do so, even in cases where colleges are test optional or intentionally limit the impact of test scores. Some colleges urge homeschooled students to submit SAT II (subject matter) test scores, even if these are optional for other applicants.

He said that when he compared test scores to homeschoolers’ transcripts, sometimes the test scores were consistent with what one would expect to see with a certain grade point average. But other times, he said, the test scores were well below what one would associate with the GPA reported on a homeschooler’s transcript. And that called for more scrutiny and, in some cases, rejection, he said.

Lori Dunlap is a homeschooling parent and advocate for homeschoolers. Her new book, Home Education to Higher Education: A Guide for Recruiting, Assessing and Supporting Homeschooled Applicants, was published in June.

Dunlap said she was concerned the Rochester incident would give homeschool transcripts a bad reputation, and she said it was important to note that the woman in that case was not in fact homeschooled.

She acknowledged that there is no verification for a standard homeschooling transcript, which relies on the instructor, typically a parent.

But Dunlap noted that many homeschool parents supplement their instruction with programs offered by museums or other institutions. So a homeschool transcript may include grades or certifications awarded by someone who is not the primary instructor or parent of the student.

Dunlap said that she advises homeschool parents to keep detailed records about the curriculum used and to provide information to colleges. In many cases, she said, the curriculum is more rigorous than what one would find at many public or private high schools.

At the same time, Dunlap said that colleges should not rely too much on standardized tests in evaluating homeschoolers’ applications. Some homeschool parents have their children take many standardized tests as a means of showing what their children can do.

But Dunlap noted that one motivation of parents for homeschooling is a belief that public schools spend too much time on testing. These parents, she said, very intentionally (and for educational reasons) try to minimize testing. This creates “an interesting friction” in evaluating homeschooled applicants, she said.

“If you have that same student with a much lower SAT score” than a transcript would suggest is appropriate, “the question is if the transcript is wrong or does this student not test well?” Dunlap said. Many homeschoolers are the latter, and should not be denied admission, she said.

Posted in AP Advanced Placement, CLEP, Credit by Exam, Resources, Tuition

Cost of Tuition in the United States

The current and historical cost of tuition in the United Sates is tracked and sorted for us to learn from.   The United States Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics keeps data on this kind of information, and much more!  (Psssttt, it’s one of my favorite sites to browse)

The costs below reflect averaged “rack rate” tuition for 1 year, which is to say the price stated by the college as their tuition rate.  Individual student’s scholarships or other grants are not reflected here, this is simply the price of tuition.   Note that public colleges generally have “in-state” and “out of state” tuition rates- this is because of the economics of a state-funded educational system, and out-of-state students will typically pay a significantly higher rate than in-state students.

Now, because this is the Homeschooling for College Credit page, of course, I’m also including the breakdown for several popular college credit exams that your teen can take – you’ll be able to see the TREMENDOUS cost savings as you get down to the bottom of the page.

“Cost of attendance”  is also collected, and includes OTHER expenses besides tuition.  Books, meals, dorms, etc. may all be estimated on your college’s website. As you dig deeper, you’ll want to sort out the costs that are variable and those that are fixed.  For instance, if a student lives at home, there aren’t many living expenses to add in, but a student living in a dorm will spend about $13,000 more per year. For the purposes of this post, we’re only talking about TUITION.  


Official Calculation as per-year

(Data Source:  National Center for Education Statistics: November 2016)

 

Less than 2-year (Diploma/Certificate)
Public Non-Profit 248 schools $6,505 in-state $7,288 out-state
Private Non-Profit 86 schools $13,433 N/A
Private For-Profit 1,616 schools $15,269 N/A
2-year (Associate Degree)
Public Non-Profit 1,016 schools $3,941 in-state $7,780 out-state
Private Non-Profit 178 schools $13,899 N/A
Private For-Profit 891 schools $14,864 N/A
4-year (Bachelor’s Degree)
Public Non-Profit 710 schools $8,141 in-state $18,341 out-sta.
Private Non-Profit 1,602 schools $26,355 N/A
Private For-Profit 700 schools $16,066 N/A

 


Unofficial* Calculation as per-credit

Less than 2-year (Diploma/Certificate)
Public Non-Profit   $217 in-state $243 out-state
Private Non-Profit   $448 N/A
Private For-Profit   $509 N/A
2-year (Associate Degree)
Public Non-Profit   $131 in-state $259 out-state
Private Non-Profit   $463 N/A
Private For-Profit   $495 N/A
4-year (Bachelor’s Degree)
Public Non-Profit   $271 $611 out-state
Private Non-Profit   $879 N/A
Private For-Profit   $536 N/A

Credit by Exam Calculation as per-credit

Credit By Exam
AP Exam $93  3 credit exam=

$31 per credit

6 credit exam=

$16 per credit

9 credit exam=

$10 per credit

CLEP Exam $80 3 credit exam=

$27 per credit

6 credit exam=

$13 per credit

9 credit exam=

$9 per credit

DSST Exam $80 3 credit exam=

$27 per credit

N/A N/A
ACTFL foreign language $70 (written) 12 cr. exam=

$7 per credit

 

 

 

 

Saylor Exam $25 3 credit exam=

$8 per credit

 

Unofficial* = calculated by dividing the yearly tuition by 30, the standard full-time load.