Posted in Uncategorized

We’re on Facebook!

Hey!  Did you know that Homeschooling for College Credit is on Facebook?

We have 2 great ways for you to connect-

First, be sure you’re following our main FAN PAGE.  This is where you’ll get a daily post in your newsfeed about resourceful high school planning.

Second, be sure to join your state’s Homeschooling for College Credit Group.  This is your opportunity to connect with other families in your state and get the specifics about your state’s dual enrollment programs, early college, CLEP testing, and college admissions.  Locate your state’s direct link here.


Posted in Uncategorized

Congratulations Class of 2017

Ladies and gentlemen of the class of 2017, wear sunscreen
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it
The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists
Whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable
Then my own meandering experience, I will dispense this advice now

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth, oh, never mind
You will never understand the power
And the beauty of your youth until they’ve faded
But trust me, in twenty years
You will look back at photos of yourself

And recall in a way you can’t grasp now
How many possibilities lay before you
And how fabulous you really looked
You are not as fat as you imagine

Don’t worry about the future or worry that know that worrying
Is as affective as trying to solve an algebra equation
By chewing bubble gum
The real troubles in your life are apt to be things
That never crossed your worried mind
The kind that blindsides you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday

Do one thing every day that scares you, sing
Don’t be reckless with other peoples’ hearts
Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours, floss
Don’t waste your time on jealousy
Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind
The race is long and in the end, it’s only with yourself

Remember compliments you receive, forget the insults
If you succeed in doing this, tell me how
Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements, stretch
Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what to do with your life

The most interesting people
I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives
Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t
Get plenty of calcium
Be kind to knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t
Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t
Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the “Funky Chicken”
On your 75th wedding anniversary
Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much
Or berate yourself either
Your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s

Enjoy your body, use it every way you can
Don’t be afraid of it or what other people think of it
It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own, dance
Even if you have nowhere to do it but your own living room
Read the directions even if you don’t follow them
Do not read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly

Brother and sister together will make it through
Someday a spirit will take you and guide you there
I know you’ve been hurting, but I’ve been waiting to be there for you
And I’ll be there just helping you out, whenever I can

Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for good
Be nice to your siblings, they are your best link to your past
And the people most likely to stick with you in the future
Understand that friends come and go
But a precious few, who should hold on

Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle
For as the older you get, the more you need the people
You knew when you were young
Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard
Live in northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft

Travel, accept certain inalienable truths
Prices will rise, politicians will philander, you too will get old
And when you do, you’ll fanaticise that when you were young
Prices were reasonable, politicians were noble
And children respected their elders

Respect your elders, don’t expect anyone else to support you
Maybe you have a trust fund, maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse
But you’ll never know when either one will run out
Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re forty
It will look eighty-five
Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it

Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of
Wishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off
Painting over the ugly parts and recycling for more than it’s worth
But trust me on the sunscreen.


CREDIT:  Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen) by Baz Luhrmann, Quindon Tarver


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

Community College in the News

NPR Want to Finish College?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


For homeschooled high school teens:

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

For homeschool graduates:

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

Referenced:  Center for Community College Student Engagement 2017 National Report


Posted in Uncategorized

Jennifer’s Books

EFFECTIVE August 1, 2017, all of Jennifer’s books have joined Kindle Matchbook!!  This means, that if you purchased a paperback (even in the past) you’ll be able to pick up the Kindle version for $0.00 free!  Kindle versions can be read on any electronic device, even your home computer.

CoCompletely FREE Collegesmpletely FREE Colleges (2016 Edition) Paperback

Completely FREE Colleges (2016 Edition) Kindle

Completely FREE Tuition (in progress) Working draft chapters (free)

College tuition costs are rising faster than the rate of inflation. Parents and students are struggling to afford a college education without being crushed by student loan debt. After scouring 39,000 college websites, digging through all the fine print, and interviewing experts, Jennifer uncovered THOUSANDS of regionally accredited colleges and universities that won’t charge you a penny in tuition…if you’re willing to do what it takes.

audio_book-coverHomeschooling for College Credit (2012 Edition)

Homeschooling for College Credit (2012 Edition) Kindle

Homeschooling for College Credit (2012 Edition) Audio (listen to Chapter 5 instantly)

Homeschooling for College Credit (2nd Edition) Working draft chapters (free)

Selected as a Homeschool Legal Defense Association Recommended Resource.

High school can be the most productive years of your child’s academic career. Perfectly suited to the homeschool family, this book has everything you need to build a successful high school curriculum that earns college level credit at home. Jennifer shows you how to become an amazing high school guidance counselor for your family.  Even if you’ve never been to college, this book will turn every parent into a well-versed home school guidance counselor!

2017 Book Lists & Learning Guides

The following books lists are my “recipe” for building a complete homeschool course that also aligns with the current version of this CLEP exam. Like any recipe, each person usually does it a little differently- but these are the best books, video, and test prep materials I know of!    Each list is carefully chosen for conservative homeschool families that want to offer a full and rich high school curriculum that finishes strong with a college credit exam option. In addition, you can be sure that the content is perfectly aligned with a current version of the college credit exam.

**Books sold separately**

The Learning Guides (written by me) are to be used with your books (not written by me).  You can use the book lists without the Learning Guide.

Each Learning Guide consists of 60 lessons, which are designed to be used 5-days per week for a 12 week semester. The student will complete approximately 75+ contact hours in this course, resulting in ½ high school credit at the honors level. After a full semester of exceptional and rigorous curriculum, your student can attempt the CLEP exam as their “final exam.”

Each Learning Guide is written so any high school student can work independently; checking off each daily task as they go. Your student will know exactly which pages to read, what to study, what to write, what to watch when to take their practice tests, and what they need to learn for their college credit exam.

These book lists will work for the current CLEP exams through 11/30/2018.  Learning Guides will go OUT OF PRINT on 02/28/2018

1) CLEP Official Study Guide 2016 ISBN 1457304619
2) Teaching the Classics DVD with Case (4 disks) ISBN: 978-1-62341-094-0
3) Teaching the Classics Workbook ISBN: 978-0-9845496-4-1
4) Spark Chart Literature Terms ISBN 1411470737
5) Spark Chart Poetry Terms ISBN: 1411470486
6) Child’s Anthology of Poetry ISBN: 0062393375
7) The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain ISBN: 099658482X
8) Analyzing and Interpreting Literature Learning Guide by Homeschooling for College Credit ISBN-10: 1533260869

1) CLEP Official Study Guide 2016 ISBN 1457304619
2) The Complete Idiot’s Guide to American history, 2nd edition ISBN: 9780028638508
3) Visions of America: A History of the United States, Combined Volume 2nd Ed. ISBN 9780205092666
4) Pocket Constitution (Text from the U.S. Bicentennial Commission Edition) by Delegates of the Constitutional Convention ISBN 0880801441
5) John Adams by David McCullough ISBN 0684813637
6) Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin ISBN 0743270754
7) REA CLEP US History 1 ISBN 0878918965
8) US History 1 Learning Guide by Homeschooling for College Credit ISBN 1533070814


1) CLEP Official Study Guide 2016 ISBN 1457304619
2) The Complete Idiot’s Guide to American History, 2nd edition ISBN: 9780028638508
3) Visions of America: A History of the United States, Combined Volume 2nd Ed. ISBN 9780205092666
4) REA US History 2 ISBN 0878912738
5) An American Life Ronald Reagan ISBN 978-1451628395
6) Truman, David McCullough ISBN 0671869205
7) US History 2 Learning Guide by Homeschooling for College Credit ISBN: 1533072744

Posted in Uncategorized

Introduction: Completely FREE Tuition (Working Draft)

I wrote Completely FREE Colleges (1st ed.) in late 2015. You can still get it in paperback or Kindle through Amazon, but for the second edition, I’ve found more deals!

(1) Each chapter of this book will appear here as an open resource for you to read in working draft form.  I’m undecided about pursuing a paperback version when it’s finished, but even if I do, I’m committed to making the content available here for you to use and share.

(2)  I’m adding 2 new chapters!  Chapter 13 will give you a good starting point for finding free tuition scholarships, and Chapter 14 will cover the world of Massive Open Online Courses.  I’d left MOOCs out of the first edition, but some of them are now college-credit eligible, so it’s time to bring them in.

(3)   You’ll find a few graduate degrees in the new edition.

(4)  I’ve revised my filter to allow a few non-regionally accredited (but still accredited) colleges into the mix.  They’ll be well-identified.

Here is the breakdown of the chapters, and how I’ve structured the book.  I hope you find it well organized and intuitive.  I’ll begin uploading chapters soon, but don’t have a schedule just yet.  Stay tuned!free college pic

Posted in Uncategorized

ALEKS has problems…

You may wonder what all the fuss is about ALEKS math, and why I keep posting updates.

If you’ve never heard of ALEKS, you can get caught up to speed in a few minutes by reading my post here:  ALEKS Math…going, going,  At the time, we were sure ALEKS was expiring (credit “expires” when companies don’t renew or are denied renewal from ACE), but they kept getting short renewals – not in the 2+ year increments you commonly see by healthy companies, but in these short 30 day increments.

Thirty day extensions left a lot of us confused about whether or not our teens could finish in time to get college credit- if they’d receive a regular renewal, or none at all.  Mainly I felt hopeful that whatever paperwork or process that ALEKS needed sorted out, was probably being sorted out, and ACE was giving them the benefit of additional extensions- good faith.  In fact, ALEKS even sent emails to their subscribers indicating things were being worked out.   To read some of the highs and lows, you can read a summary of my comments regarding their extensions here ALEKS follow-up & shut-down.

Every time I post about ALEKS, I’m sure it will be my final post…. but 2 days ago, they received another 30-day extension.  I’m fortunate to have a little birdy at ACE share his bread crumbs with me from time to time, and while he won’t give me 100% confirmation, I’ve had my suspicions about what the hold up was for some time.  Why?  Because ALEKS has loopholes.  Loopholes that everyone else has closed.  Loopholes that resourceful people can’t help but uncover in a short period of time.

What I can say on my own, is that there are a few issues ALEKS probably has to work out if they want their extension to continue after this month.   In other words, if “I” were in hired to identify problems with ALEKS MATH, and come up with solutions, these are the issues I would address immediately:

  • User’s identity / integrity is too weak.  In short, if I signed my cat up for an ALEKS account, there is never a follow-up process to check that my cat is who he says he is. A solution, used by most other ACE-Evaluated programs, is to require a government issued ID (or two) for verification.  The ID can be shown through the webcam to a live proctor.
  • Assessments aren’t proctored.  Like the user identity issue, there is never a verification that the assessment is being taken by the student.  The solution is to require ID verification before every assessment.
  • Assessments aren’t closed book.  The trouble here, is that there are a large number of sophisticated websites which allow you to copy and paste entire math formulas into a box, and the entire solution is generated.  You don’t have to know how to solve a single question on any ALEKS assessment if you can locate one of these websites.  A solution is to use a lock-down browser during all assessments.  This prevents the student from having a tab open that holds a calculator.
  • Assessments aren’t timed.  The trouble with an untimed assessment is that it allows users to complete their initial assessment over a number of days or sessions instead of one session.  Requiring assessments to take place in a single, timed session with a proctor is a common practice for other ACE-Evaluated programs.

Why the big deal over assessments?

Let’s get to the elephant in the room.  If you sign up for ALEKS, your first assessment (untimed, unproctored, open book) determines your starting point for the course.  If you happen to hit over 70% on your first try, you don’t have to take the course- you instantly have received college credit!  Passing one test isn’t unlike other credit by exam options (AP, CLEP, DSST, etc.) but all of those exams are proctored, timed, and have verified your identity.

What if you don’t hit 70%?  ALEKS intends for you to begin the course.  Your assessment gives you the appropriate starting point, and after lots of math, you’ll be issued a new assessment.  But that’s not what you have to do.  

At any point, you simply assign yourself a new assessment and begin again.  There is no waiting period, in fact, there is no criteria for retake at all- you simply push the button and begin.  (AP has a 12 month waiting period, CLEP and DSST have 90 days).

As you can see, the issues with ALEKS math are real.  Even though the thoughtful parents here are supervising and monitoring their teen’s progress, the flaw is in the lack of integrity of the system, not in an individual’s integrity. When the system lacks integrity, fewer schools will allow the credit in transfer.  Fixing these loopholes would help all of us resume earning college credit through this otherwise wonderful math curriculum.


Posted in Uncategorized

Testing, testing, 1…2…3…

Are we live?  Did it work?  If so, I am happy to announce the new Homeschooling for College Credit Website!  In the past, posts were generated through the Facebook platform and sent to our sister social media sites, but now that we have a shiny new website, all posts will generate from one place!  And can you say “searchable archives?”  Whoo hoo!