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 CreditsBeforeCollege.com.

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.
Essential Tips for Homeschooling High School

Essential Tips for Homeschooling High School

Homeschooling High School

Homeschooling High School can be intimidating, to be sure. But, for some reason, you are or have considered it, and you are ready to take the plunge! Many people are intimidated by homeschooling High School because they feel like they can’t cover all of the subject areas adequately.

Why are we so afraid?

Well truthfully, for most of us, it HAS been years since we took Algebra.  We might never have been that good at writing, or we don’t have a good handle on history or science. And seriously, WHAT is a credit and how do we do we create a Master Plan of Action to get through these next couple of years with our strong-willed, bored, lazy, overly compliant, non-compliant, willful, just wants to read all the time, hates math, never wants to read ever, delightful, funny, sleeping all the time, hungry ALL the time teenager?!  Honestly, it’s enough to make anyone’s head spin!

Will you be homeschooling high school? Check out essential these tips now! #homeschooling #highschool #homeschoolonline #truenorthhomeschoolacademyThe good news, actually the GREAT news is, that homeschooling high school has never been easier. Resources and materials for homeschooling High School have exploded the last couple of years, making it possible to craft an academically rigorous, delight directed, interest-led, affordable program for your teen!

So what are these resources, and where do you find them?

Online Learning

On-line resources are more diverse and range from free to expensive, with amazing content and quality. Some classes are live, some are pre-recorded, and some are animated. We’ve done our fair share of online courses ranging from Latin National Exam prep, Math, Greek, Pre-law, Marine Biology, Chemistry and more. On-line classes can fill in areas that you aren’t prepared or qualified to teach.

(If you are looking for live or pre-recorded online classes check out our catalog for some great options!)

Local Homeschool Groups

Closer to home, most cities have a plethora of homeschool class days, co-ops and academic programs that are inexpensive to participate and easily accessible. Our regional Homeschool Facebook page lists area groups and contact information. Many of us are involved in more than one group at a time, depending on our schedules and kids interests.  Additionally, area points of interest have begun to offer homeschool specific programs, such as our local Outdoor Campus.Image may contain: 3 people, people dancing, people standing and indoor

Having homeschooled in different areas of the country, it’s been my experience that the local homeschool community usually develops its own culture and unique offerings. We know of one large city that hosts a huge Homeschool Prom. Our smaller city hosts a yearly dinner dance, and we also have a rich and diverse theater program for kids of all ages, with Drama Camp,  a yearly festival of One Act Plays and a Shakespeare Camp, where kids perform a full-length Shakespeare Camp!

Online Support Groups

Still can’t find what you’re looking for? Then there’s probably a group online that can help you out. Other homeschooling moms are extremely helpful, and more than likely there’s one out there who can answer your questions. A simple Facebook (or Google) search will likely lead you to a wide variety of online homeschooling groups.  There all your questions can be answered. Don’t skip this valuable resource!

(Are you looking for a fantastic online support group?  Check out the Help Homeschooling High School group on Facebook.)

How does one take advantage of all of the amazing possibilities open to homeschoolers these days?  You create a learning plan.

In my opinion, having helped hundreds of homeschoolers from around the world as an Academic Advisor, the most straightforward way to get through high school is to create a learning plan. This plan should include academics, family values, extra-curriculars, sports and more!

If you need help with this, check out our Academic Advising package! We provide credit evaluation, a Personalized Learning Plan, standardized testing, vocational testing and more!

Questions Answers Signage

Homeschooling High School can be such a rich, rewarding experience with the right plan and resources. Lucky for all of us, they are more available than ever before!

You might also be interested in Latin Math & Music- Universal Languages and C.S. Lewis: Literary Mentor.

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