American Council on Education #7–18
ACE (American Council on Education) is a third party credit evaluator that evaluates all types of learning that happens outside of a college, but that may be worth college credit. If you have a certification that may be worth college credit, it’s likely only because ACE evaluated it to be. On the other hand, just because ACE evaluates a course, doesn’t mean a college automatically accepts it. The limited
transferability of ACE credit must be emphasized.
What kind of learning gets ACE evaluated? Adult education, workplace development courses, certifications, and businesses specifically developing courses for the home-based student (teen or adult). If you’ve ever happened on a site that offers courses “for college credit” but it wasn’t a college’s website, it’s probably offering college credit via ACE. Many companies offer courses “for college credit” but credit evaluated for worth by ACE means it’s essentially all the same type of credit. ACE credit is ACE credit in the eyes of most colleges. ACE’s website advertises that “over 1,700” colleges participate with ACE, however, to be included on that list, a college might only accept 1 course, or they may have simply agreed to consider your
credit. The ACE list is inaccurate at best. I estimate that fewer than 200 accredited (regional and national) colleges will review and grant credit for ACE coursework. Still, if you’re not especially picky, you can pick up a lot of ACE credit for less cost than most other options.
Limited Transfer: Now, the limited transfer doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t ever participate in these courses. For some parents, using ACE courses simply provides a curriculum for their homeschool, and college credit isn’t really the objective. As an example, one of my sons studied cybersecurity by taking free online courses through Texas A&M University’s Extension program. There was no cost to us, and after he finished all 10 courses, I awarded him 1 high school credit in Cybersecurity, and ACE awarded him 6 college credits. When he eventually attends college, these may not “count” towards his degree.
If they do, that’s the icing on the cake, but we’d have used them anyway. For other parents, their teen plans to pursue a degree with one of the colleges known for its generous acceptance of ACE, so the risk of non-transfer is removed. Be aware, however, that most ACE credit is of “equal” likelihood of transferability. That is to say, company A’s ACE credit doesn’t have more transferability power than company B’s ACE credit. If you’re planning to use ACE credit, be sure to price shop. Some companies charge entirely too much money for this category of limited transfer credit. Also, a handful of business have created their own transfer arrangements with colleges. These are business arrangements as opposed to academic ones, so you’ll
want to contact a prospective college directly . . . just to be sure.
Now, there is another type of ACE evaluated credit that you may encounter, and that’s associated with non-traditional licenses and workplace learning. If your teen earned an FAA pilot’s license, ACE has evaluated that license to be worth college credit, you simply have to request it be added to your ACE transcript. Additional gems may include some CPR/first aid programs, management programs through McDonald’s restaurant, Jiffy Lube employee e-training, oral foreign language proficiency, Dale Carnegie courses, Microsoft certifications, SCUBA diving courses, and more. There are thousands of ACE-evaluated courses, and it’s worth browsing the list. (For teens and parents!)
If you have an ACE account from several years ago, you didn’t pay anything to set it up, you only paid when you requested official
transcripts be sent to colleges. However, that’s changed, and now there is a $20 fee to set up your account and 1 free transcript to be sent when you’re ready. If you were grandfathered in, you’d pay your fee when you send your first transcript.
Expiration dates: unlike college courses, ACE evaluated courses for college credit have expiration dates. A full-term evaluation lasts 3 years, others may be less. As such, every course and every company in this section does have an expiration date! When an expiration date is approaching, I usually announce that through my blog or Facebook, but you can look these up for yourself on ACE’s website. Expiration dates were left off of these courses because they are constantly changing— but before registering for any course in this section, make sure your teen can complete it before it expires. Expired courses either renew or become extinct. Extinct courses aren’t worth college credit.
Partnerships: Many of the programs in this section have formally written partnerships with specific colleges. When a partnership exists, the transfer into that college is usually guaranteed (you’ll want to confirm). In addition to guaranteeing transfer, a transfer agreement is very useful to homeschoolers because your teen can earn credit toward a college that may otherwise not grant them admission. For instance, if a college is only open to high school graduates, but has a partnership with one of the ACE companies in this section, your teen can complete their ACE courses in high school, and later after high school graduation, apply with them already complete. This gives your teen an advanced standing.
My second son used this “advanced standing” strategy in high school. He accumulated his college credit during 11th and 12th grade, as well as the summer after high school graduation. Our total cost was about $2,000 over those 2 ½ years. When he applied to the 4-year university (a partner college), he was given senior status and priority registration. Without the partnership agreement and an opportunity to pursue ACE credit in high school, those same courses taken at the college would have cost us $42,000.
Curriculum/courses that are ACE-Evaluated for college credit This website’s list is an ever-changing catalog of course offerings and is presented
only as a representative sample. Visit each company’s website for their current course catalog.
This content is reprinted from Chapter 2 of Homeschooling for College Credit 2nd Edition.
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