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CLEP 101 (College Level Exam Program) for Homeschoolers

CLEP 101 (College Level Exam Program) for Homeschoolers

At True North Homeschool Academy, we are all about launching our kid successfully as young adults.  Ideally, we like this launch to be with little to no debt, and in a way that equips them to succeed vocationally, as well as in life. One of the ways we are doing this is by providing CLEP prep classes.

What is CLEP?

CLEP is College level Exam Program. There are over 33 exams available that are accepted by 2900 colleges and universities in the following areas:

  • Literature & Composition
  • World Languages
  • History & Social Science
  • Science & Mathematics

By taking a CLEP test, you can save “Hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars.” CLEP exams have been in existence for over 50 years and had over 1800 test centers. This program allows students to demonstrate mastery in college-level material and earn college credit through testing. There is no minimum age at which your kids can start taking CLEP exams and your test scores will “bank” for up to ten years!

Not every college accepts every CLEP exam, and if you know where your high school student plans to attend college, you can check with their admissions counselor or website. If it’s not stated on the website, and you are assured by someone on staff or faculty that the CLEP exam will be accepted for credit, get that in writing. In my state, the state college system will take up to 10 CLEP exams toward a degree, but it varies by major and school.

If you are interested in taking some CLEPs as upper-level high school courses, I would suggest starting with some basic general education requirements: College Algebra, English Comp I and II, Environmental or Natural Science, Psychology or World Religions or Government. Taking just 5 Clep exams totals 15 College Credits (and can go on a High School Transcript for one credit as well and can be counted for a higher weight, which affects the G.P.A.) which is an entire semester’s worth of college. Considering that even inexpensive school cost around $20,000 a year, half of that is significant savings!

If you are looking to earn you Associates degree or even entire undergraduate degree through Clepping, Dual Enrollment, and other less conventional methods, be sure to check out the “Big Three”; Thomas Edison State College, Excelsior State College, and Charter Oak State College.  All of these consider life experiences, extensive CLEP exams, and dual enrollment creidts towards an Associate of Arts or a Bachelor’s Degree.

We have a friend who got their entire undergraduate degree in two years through Clepping and then went on to Medical School.  Of course, he had terrific MCAT scores and references along with his degree, but it is doable to take an unconventionally earned Bachelor’s degree and go on to a competitive graduate program.

True North Homeschools Academy is committed to utilizing the freedom and unique opportunities we have as homeschoolers to bring classes to you that prepare your students to take CLEP exam.

This fall, for instance, we have an amazing group of young adults (10th-12th graders) meeting weekly for 90 minutes to study Psychology. This class has been challenging and thought-provoking, required a boatload of homework, reading, studying and learning vocabulary, provided great discussions and some good laughs and readied participants to take the CLEP exam at the end of the semester.

This class is offered for one semester (just like a college class would be) and uses Zoom and Moodle (also, like many college classes) and counts for 1 High School Credit.  If the CLEP exam is taken and passed 3 College Credits under the General Education requirement of Social Science will be earned. Not only are our students receiving college credit for pennies on the dollar but they are avoiding the social indoctrination that is so prevalent on College campuses, especially in the area of Social Sciences.

Why pay for these classes when our kids can study and take a CLEP test on their own?

For the simple reason, that upper-level classes are challenging, and difficult things are often more exciting and enjoyable when done with others (Ecc 4:9), the teacher brings their experience and expertise to bear,  and the kids have incentive to keep going even when the going gets tough!

If CLEP tests are not something you’ve considered before, I hope you take a look at them. We’d love to partner with you to guide your student through some fun and challenging High School classes that also prepare your students well for CLEP exams!

(This spring we will be offering Civics as well as Environmental Science– both count towards one credit of High School and are also CLEP prep classes.  Check those out today!)

Would you like your high school student to get a jumpstart on college credits?  Then you need CLEP classes!  Check out this post to find out the whys and hows of CLEP Exams for homeschool students! #homeschool #TrueNorthHomeschoolAcademy #CLEP

Earning a Debt-Free College Degree

Earning a Debt-Free College Degree

Who is Paying for College

Few conversations have such a big impact on students’ financial future as the one that starts with, “Who is paying for college?” Most students have not given this question much thought and the result is a generation of graduates buried in student loan debt that they will struggle to repay over decades. As a homeschool parent of three, I invested in finding a way for our children to graduate college debt-free. I discovered credit-by-exam, what I consider one of the best kept secrets in higher education. CLEP (College Level Exam Program) and DSST (DANTES Subject Standardized Tests) are two nationally-recognized credit-by-exam programs that allow students test out of introductory-level college courses. The programs have been available for decades, but many students and parents are unaware of this credit-earning option. With forethought and planning, students can save a significant amount of time and money earning a college degree.

Offensive Strategy

My three children took these exams in middle and high school, often using the same materials they would have otherwise, with the addition of test-prep materials. Paired with vocation exploration, we determined this was the best offensive strategy against the high cost of college, versus the traditional passive approach of hoping for scholarships or being dependent on financial aid. By taking advantage of credit-by-exam in grades 8–10, and our state’s dual enrollment option in grades 11-12, each of our three children graduated with their 4-year degrees for under $15K. Two graduated high school with their 4-year degrees, and one child obtained his degree just one and a half years after high school graduation.

Personalized Learning

These achievements are unusual; however, some students are capable and eager to challenge themselves for this level of learning. They have invested their saved time and dollars into international travel, internships that led to employment, and graduate school. CLEP was developed by the College Board. Nearly 3,000 colleges and universities accept these tests as transfer credit. DSST, administered by Prometric, is a slightly lesser-known program. The exams test different subjects, so we used both in our plan. Each exam costs under $100 and is open to students of any age. Colleges will place a limit on the number of transfer credits a student can earn, so it is always best to review the policy of the college you are considering. There is no one right way to blend credit-by-exam with homeschool as each student’s post high school goals will be different. Some students are ready for this level of learning at an earlier age, especially when they are guided by their parents. It did require us, as parents, to make a shift in our thinking. I facilitated the process as a guidance counselor would, offering opportunities, guidance, and encouragement. Part of our completion strategy meant including studies in personal finance, career exploration, and internships so that when they made a vocational decision, they were thoughtful in their choice.

“Who is paying for college?”

In our family, we told our kids that we would pay for all college credits earned while they were in high school, but the cost of the remaining credits was their responsibility. This offered a realistic expectation and helped them set their own goals. The results of this plan exceeded our expectations!

You might also enjoy High School Credit in Jr. High? You Betcha!,  Blended Learning: It Just Makes Sense  and Clep Prep.

Cheri Frame is the founder of Credits Before College and a certified Career Direct® Consultant. As an advocate for college affordability, author, and home educator for over 15 years, Cheri shares practical ideas to help students maximize their affordable credit options and graduate toward a vocation that matches their design. Course Guides and resources can be found on her website

The What and Why of Clep Exams

The What and Why of Clep Exams

Considering hacking college? You’ll want to consider Clep Prep as a tool in your toolkit. Youu many have heard of Clep exams but are not quite sure what they are. I’d like to take a minute to inform you on how this powerful little tool can save you time and money, enrich your homeschool high school and give your student a step up as they move on to higher education. What is a Clep? Clep is short for College Level Examination Program. Cleps tests are a  group of standardized tests created and administered by College Board. Cleps are accepted by over 2900 colleges and universities in lieu of college classes! Students can take Clep exams when they choose. There is no minimum age requirement and the College Board will “save” Clep scores for up to 10 years. That means that a student who has the ability and drive to take an exam can take an exam at say, age 12, and, with a high enough score, count it towards their college credit. It also means that anyone who hasn’t completed college can finish more quickly than a traditional degree might take by Clepping at least some of the required credits.. Some colleges and universities list specific Clep exams that they will accept on their web-site. It’s a safe bet to start with General Education exams such as College Composition, College Algebra, a Social Science such as Psychology or Sociology, and a basic Science exam. Cleps are not necessarily “easy,” anyone can pass them type of tests. I would encourage everyone to study for a Clep exam. You can purchase specific clep test books, or a general Clep Prep test book, or take on-line prep courses, such as what we offer through True North Homeschool Academy. Take free on-line practice tests as well. If you score 50 or above (this is not a percentage based score) then you should be in good shape to pass the Clep exam! Think Cleps are just for a class or two? We have a homeschooled friend who clepped their entire undergraduate degree and paid cash as he went. He is now happily sailing through Medical School! Cleps are for those who want the degree but not the debt, are busy running a business or want to graduate in months instead of years. If you are a college bound student or the parent of a college bound student, make sure to do your homework on Cleps; it could be a valuable part or your plan to get through college without debt! Buy True North’s Clep Prep Bundle and save! You can find out more about Clepping by visiting the College Board.
Lisa Nehring is always on the look-out for a good deal, and believes that parents should approach launching their young adults into the wide world with creativity and pray and students should consider well the rising costs of college.