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BakersDozen

Turns out AP/CLEP doesn't matter

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I just wanted to point out that our students are individuals and all the posted advice should be viewed in light of those individuals in our home. We all have pretty good ideas about how our children perform......are they struggling to make the grade and having to put in extraordinary amts of time to meet expectations or are they solid in the material and have a grasp of material that demonstrates true mastery.

 

While the initial quote is good, general advice to a large target group, it does not necessarily translate to a real truth across all students. There are students out there that are making 5s on AP exams that have the necessary mastery for the avg university class equivalent and are well-prepared subsequent course work. Those institutions that do not give credit for outside courses/APs, etc do typically allow students to test into appropriate level classes. If not, those institutions typically have honors courses that are specifically targeted to students with these types of high levels of achievement who are grouped together in a specific "type" of freshman course.

 

Also....there are reasons to take AP and DE courses beyond demonstrating anything to admissions. A compelling reason for taking these types of courses is simply meeting student needs academically. If a student is ready for the challenge provided in coursework beyond typical high school level, they should definitely go that route.

Right. It should also be noted that some colleges will still want to see SAT subject tests even if students have AP scores. Students are different--but so are colleges!

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So do you think that is still worth it then to just take the exams as a way for a homeschooler to show academic ability for the college admissions process, even if the college they are applying to doesn't give AP credit?

 

I think it is worth it for a student to take an advanced class if they need to have their comfort zone challenged or the alternative class is obviously below their capabilities. Exams don't necessarily show that one has the ability to manage a challenging class; they show that you can take a test. I had no trouble passing the GMAT comfortably, but I spent a very uncomfortable first six months of grad school because I was seriously lacking some study skills that I needed.

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Also....there are reasons to take AP and DE courses beyond demonstrating anything to admissions. A compelling reason for taking these types of courses is simply meeting student needs academically. If a student is ready for the challenge provided in coursework beyond typical high school level, they should definitely go that route.

 

(ETA: I wanted to clarify that part of my thought processes are based on posts that address not wanting students to take courses "for major" prior to attending the university of their choice after high school graduation. I have a student that would be twiddling his thumbs, or more likely insisting on our just going ahead and graduating him then, if he wasn't allowed to pursue the appropriate level of coursework that matches his real abilities. He is out-performing the university students, so from our perspective there is no valid reason for not allowing him to progress and believe it would be a detriment to him personally to not allow him to take the classes that inspire his enthusiasm for his future.)

 

 

Just to clarify in our situation... my guys still took challenging material up to their ability, we just didn't opt for college credit for courses that would be important to them. For us, this often meant skipping the actual AP test.

 

In hindsight, my oldest could/should have taken the AP Calc test as it would have saved him a class that he was later bored in. My middle son could have taken the AP Bio test to move into a special freshman class only for those who scored a 5 on the test. We opted to skip both to save the $$ and hassle since I thought retaking Calc (if needed) would be better and we knew we didn't want AP Bio to serve as Bio credit in college for my pre-med guy. I had no clue this college had such a special class and haven't heard of a similar thing happening at another school (yet).

 

Sometimes one can see better in hindsight. BUT, neither son was "ruined" by our mistakes. ;) Middle son did VERY well keeping his GPA up by being well-prepared for Bio, Calc, and Chem by doing "AP Level" work prior to college. It'd have been very tough for him if he'd had to start at a "basic" level. The vast majority of his peers came in at his level and the classes (Intro classes) were still quite challenging. Many who opted to skip courses told him they wished they hadn't.

 

In no way am I recommending holding kids back from taking challenging courses. The only question is whether or not to try to have that coursework = college credit. For that, I still say defer to the experience of the professors at the destination college.

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A compelling reason for taking these types of courses is simply meeting student needs academically. If a student is ready for the challenge provided in coursework beyond typical high school level, they should definitely go that route.

 

(ETA: I wanted to clarify that part of my thought processes are based on posts that address not wanting students to take courses "for major" prior to attending the university of their choice after high school graduation. I have a student that would be twiddling his thumbs, or more likely insisting on our just going ahead and graduating him then, if he wasn't allowed to pursue the appropriate level of coursework that matches his real abilities. He is out-performing the university students, so from our perspective there is no valid reason for not allowing him to progress and believe it would be a detriment to him personally to not allow him to take the classes that inspire his enthusiasm for his future.)

 

 

I completely agree with you, but I did not understand the advice to be given to prevent students from taking the kind of challenging coursework, but rather as advice against a default of testing out of the introductory sequence for their major at their respective university.

I did not feel the dean was counseling the students to avoid taking challenging coursework. But I am sure he meant to stress the point that an AP or DE class does not necessarily have to be on par with the level of course the university is teaching, and that retaking the course is often beneficial, even for smart, advanced students.

 

As always, the decision needs to be made on a case by case basis. My colleagues in the math department frequently come across students with AP calc credit who fail the trigonometry placement test. Also, the level of theory in AP calc is not comparable with the theoretical level of a calculus course for scientists taught by a mathematician. So, for many, even the smartest students, retaking the course will allow them to learn the material in much greater depth - actually "re"taking is a misnomer, since it is not the same course, just a course with the same label.

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I think it is worth it for a student to take an advanced class if they need to have their comfort zone challenged or the alternative class is obviously below their capabilities. Exams don't necessarily show that one has the ability to manage a challenging class; they show that you can take a test.

 

Yes, I totally agree. It is one of the main reasons why we homeschool. :) But, it was my sense that most of the college admissions people look at it that way (whether they personally believe that or not). That getting a 5 on an AP test, whether or not that college is going to give you college credit for it, is one way for homeschoolers to prove their ability to do college level work. Do most people see it that way?

 

I completely agree that every child is different and every college is different. I am just asking from my own vantage point of having a bright and math and science-oriented kid who seems like he will want to go into engineering/physics/etc at this point. And I am really concerned about "doing it right", and being sure that homeschooling opens doors for him and gives him as many or more opportunities than if he had gone to public school. I don't want to miss anything big here, so I want to plan now for what tests he should try to prepare for and take.

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Also....there are reasons to take AP and DE courses beyond demonstrating anything to admissions. A compelling reason for taking these types of courses is simply meeting student needs academically. If a student is ready for the challenge provided in coursework beyond typical high school level, they should definitely go that route.

 

(ETA: I wanted to clarify that part of my thought processes are based on posts that address not wanting students to take courses "for major" prior to attending the university of their choice after high school graduation. I have a student that would be twiddling his thumbs, or more likely insisting on our just going ahead and graduating him then, if he wasn't allowed to pursue the appropriate level of coursework that matches his real abilities. He is out-performing the university students, so from our perspective there is no valid reason for not allowing him to progress and believe it would be a detriment to him personally to not allow him to take the classes that inspire his enthusiasm for his future.)

 

Thank you for posting this. Meeting my student's needs is a topic that I seem to dwell constantly on.

 

A bunch of my older son's friends were over and most of them have taken anywhere from 4-6 AP courses. One of them heard what my youngest has been doing for English this year and then asked if he was going to be in AP Lang. next year. This wasn't even on my radar and I didn't know that recent test scores qualified him to take the class as a sophomore. As luck would have it, the school wouldn't give him the required writing test, so I went to PA Homeschoolers' site and checked out each of the teachers and the requirements. I felt such a sense of relief in looking over the sample discussion questions and the type of work that was covered. I think even though it will stretch him that ds is ready for that type of challenge. The fact that not as many sophomores take it will push him to make sure he does well.

 

I have NO idea if this would give him credit anywhere in three years. I can't even tell you if it is in a non-major subject because so far, he performs the same in math as he does in science as he does in language arts as he does in history. All I can tell you is that it now seems like a logical next step. His analytical skills are growing quickly, sometimes too quickly for me to adapt well, but while his physical skills like reading pace and writing are age appropriate, they aren't up to where his analytical skills are. My hope is that not only does the content challenge him, but that the extensive essay work will help close the cognitive vs physical skills.

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Yes, I totally agree. It is one of the main reasons why we homeschool. :) But, it was my sense that most of the college admissions people look at it that way (whether they personally believe that or not). That getting a 5 on an AP test, whether or not that college is going to give you college credit for it, is one way for homeschoolers to prove their ability to do college level work. Do most people see it that way?

 

I completely agree that every child is different and every college is different. I am just asking from my own vantage point of having a bright and math and science-oriented kid who seems like he will want to go into engineering/physics/etc at this point. And I am really concerned about "doing it right", and being sure that homeschooling opens doors for him and gives him as many or more opportunities than if he had gone to public school. I don't want to miss anything big here, so I want to plan now for what tests he should try to prepare for and take.

 

Oh, I get what you are saying. We'll take advanced classes because that may be what ds needs, but the testing is for someone else to look at and applaud as part of the Great Academic Dance (fondly known as GAD). From our vantage point, not only would SATII or AP scores be outside validation, but because my ds takes a handful of classes at the ps, those results would become a negotiating tool for any advanced work he wanted to do there that would normally require a specific grade and a teacher's signature.

 

Now in my twisted mind, I could see having my son take the SAT II Math I test after his Adv. Algebra II class at the school - after all, I need a little "outside verification" myself. :D

 

I am right there with you on not wanting to miss anything big.

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I completely agree with you, but I did not understand the advice to be given to prevent students from taking the kind of challenging coursework, but rather as advice against a default of testing out of the introductory sequence for their major at their respective university.

I did not feel the dean was counseling the students to avoid taking challenging coursework. But I am sure he meant to stress the point that an AP or DE class does not necessarily have to be on par with the level of course the university is teaching, and that retaking the course is often beneficial, even for smart, advanced students.

 

As always, the decision needs to be made on a case by case basis. My colleagues in the math department frequently come across students with AP calc credit who fail the trigonometry placement test. Also, the level of theory in AP calc is not comparable with the theoretical level of a calculus course for scientists taught by a mathematician. So, for many, even the smartest students, retaking the course will allow them to learn the material in much greater depth - actually "re"taking is a misnomer, since it is not the same course, just a course with the same label.

The concern I sometimes have is that some will read a post or hear a speaker say that colleges don't give credit for AP (or CLEP) and decide that therefore, there is no point to pursuing the higher level coursework. In other words, if there isn't money or time saved in college that it is just "hoop jumping" (as someone in another venue labeled it. I'm going to have my sons attempting AP level government work this fall, because it is a subject that interests us, one that we have access and insight into, and it is a more concrete body of information than some others (like World History, which makes me a little crazy). I have no idea if we'll be able to find a site for the exams come test time. But I think we'll still have a great time digging into the topic.

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Right. It should also be noted that some colleges will still want to see SAT subject tests even if students have AP scores. Students are different--but so are colleges!

 

I just wanted to say that my son ran into a few colleges like this in his search last fall. He also ran into some that told him not to bother taking the SAT2 for their sake. It was rather scary to take them at their word, but we did and he was accepted, so apparently they truly meant it. He had only community college classes and SAT scores and a DELF for French - no APs, no SAT2s. (The colleges that wanted them from homeschoolers or who wanted them despite AP scores were eliminated from the list for other reasons, fortunately.) It was scary deciding not to take any AP's; they are so ubiquitous here. I was trying to simplify high school and minimize the number of tests my son had to take. CC classes were easy to arrange and served multiple purposes, some that AP classes did not cover. My hair is a bit greyer and I have a bit less, though, because of that decision. University transfer credit didn't enter into the decision at all. Challenge, classroom skills, and verification of academic abilities were our reasons for considering AP classes and CC classes. I think the caliber of my son's classmates would have been greater with AP classes. If we had needed the university years to be shorter, we would have looked at taking classes at a local university or looked at the various community college transfer programs.

 

Nan

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My middle son could have taken the AP Bio test to move into a special freshman class only for those who scored a 5 on the test......I had no clue this college had such a special class and haven't heard of a similar thing happening at another school (yet).

 

........ It'd have been very tough for him if he'd had to start at a "basic" level. The vast majority of his peers came in at his level and the classes (Intro classes) were still quite challenging. Many who opted to skip courses told him they wished they hadn't.

 

In no way am I recommending holding kids back from taking challenging courses. The only question is whether or not to try to have that coursework = college credit. For that, I still say defer to the experience of the professors at the destination college.

 

Actually, many of the schools that do not allow students to get credit for AP/DE courses do offer placement into special track courses.

 

I completely agree with you, but I did not understand the advice to be given to prevent students from taking the kind of challenging coursework, but rather as advice against a default of testing out of the introductory sequence for their major at their respective university.

I did not feel the dean was counseling the students to avoid taking challenging coursework. But I am sure he meant to stress the point that an AP or DE class does not necessarily have to be on par with the level of course the university is teaching, and that retaking the course is often beneficial, even for smart, advanced students.

 

As always, the decision needs to be made on a case by case basis. My colleagues in the math department frequently come across students with AP calc credit who fail the trigonometry placement test. Also, the level of theory in AP calc is not comparable with the theoretical level of a calculus course for scientists taught by a mathematician. So, for many, even the smartest students, retaking the course will allow them to learn the material in much greater depth - actually "re"taking is a misnomer, since it is not the same course, just a course with the same label.

 

The italicized in both quotes is actually my point. When we have spoken to various individuals at different schools, the original post I quoted and the italicized portions in these 2 post is the pat answer very single time. We have heard it from every school we have spoken to. It has taken making appointments and talking about our actual student and his real experience/ability along with syllabi/course descriptions and discussions about his level of success to actually have a "real conversation" vs. a blanket statement reply. While it may be the general belief that students should not place out, I am glad our ds is taking the coursework. He experienced transferring from one university to another between fall and spring semesters without difficulty (again, we had to seek special approval b/c we were given the "pat answer." He was ultimately permitted to take the next courses and ended up with the highest grade in both. So, for him, so far progressing forward has been the correct choice. Whether or not it will be the correct choice at the school he ultimately ends up attending, we will have to wait and see where that ends up being and what they offer.)

 

 

Yes, I totally agree. It is one of the main reasons why we homeschool. :) But, it was my sense that most of the college admissions people look at it that way (whether they personally believe that or not). That getting a 5 on an AP test, whether or not that college is going to give you college credit for it, is one way for homeschoolers to prove their ability to do college level work. Do most people see it that way?

 

I completely agree that every child is different and every college is different. I am just asking from my own vantage point of having a bright and math and science-oriented kid who seems like he will want to go into engineering/physics/etc at this point. And I am really concerned about "doing it right", and being sure that homeschooling opens doors for him and gives him as many or more opportunities than if he had gone to public school. I don't want to miss anything big here, so I want to plan now for what tests he should try to prepare for and take.

 

If your student is capable of taking AP coursework, I would encourage him to take them. The advantage of being ahead in science/math credits is that it opens up the opportunity for co-oping w/o getting behind. Our oldest graduated with 18 hrs of college credit (all DE, no APs). He graduated at the end of the summer semester 4 yrs after he started including an entire 12 months of co-ooping. His 18 hrs of credit meant that the summer semester (all humanities credits for him ;) ) was all that he had to use to "catch up" and graduate almost exactly on time.

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Sometimes which route to take also depends on the kid, not the credit. Which class / approach will best challenge that particular kid and provide and rigorous but not overwhelming class in the subject?

 

 

 

And there in lies the rub, right....a balance of rigorous but not overwhelming. : )

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This is a very good point. Be careful not to confuse the race for testing out of college classes as necessarily being the same as providing a solid education for your child. The first should serve the second, not the other way around. I can't imagine CLEP test prep providing the same educational value as a well-taught AP English Lang. course. Know your goals.

 

Both of my older kids chose to take an AP European History course even though they did not plan to test in it. The teacher is excellent and the class provided them with far more sophisticated discussion than they were getting in other classes. Credits aren't the only reason to take and advanced course.

 

 

 

It's funny that you mention this because I'm struggling with this issue, but in a different way than I think you meant. While AP credit looks good on a transcript, I feel like I'm giving up what I consider to be one of the most important benefits of home educating, being able to provide a tailor-made education. Of course, there is the option of taking the AP test after using our chosen curriculum. How does that "look" to colleges? I guess you wouldn't get the bump in GPA that an "AP" class would provide, but it could be labelled "honors", which would give a little boost. Any thoughts?

 

Ashley

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It's funny that you mention this because I'm struggling with this issue, but in a different way than I think you meant. While AP credit looks good on a transcript, I feel like I'm giving up what I consider to be one of the most important benefits of home educating, being able to provide a tailor-made education. Of course, there is the option of taking the AP test after using our chosen curriculum. How does that "look" to colleges? I guess you wouldn't get the bump in GPA that an "AP" class would provide, but it could be labelled "honors", which would give a little boost. Any thoughts?

 

 

Three thoughts:

1. the college does not care if your student takes a designated AP class and then passes the exam, or if he self studies for the exam - as long as he gets a high score. People on these boards have simply labeled the course xyz with AP exam to indicate the level.

2. I agree that, even aiming for AP exam with a self designed course, you give up flexibility, because inevitably your student will have to cover exactly what will be on the exam. This is a small issue for sciences where there is some standard material that must be covered in a foundational course anyway, but a bigger issue with subjects like history, which allow for so many different approaches.

3. Lastly, you can still tailor the education, because you won't do APs in all subjects anyway. There is still plenty of room for personalization.

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Actually, many of the schools that do not allow students to get credit for AP/DE courses do offer placement into special track courses.

 

I agree, but this is the first (and only) time we've heard of an inflexible "must have a 5 on the AP to get in" pre-req. Others use classes and scores, but are more flexible with other forms of getting in if one has something else to offer.

 

It's funny that you mention this because I'm struggling with this issue, but in a different way than I think you meant. While AP credit looks good on a transcript, I feel like I'm giving up what I consider to be one of the most important benefits of home educating, being able to provide a tailor-made education. Of course, there is the option of taking the AP test after using our chosen curriculum. How does that "look" to colleges? I guess you wouldn't get the bump in GPA that an "AP" class would provide, but it could be labelled "honors", which would give a little boost. Any thoughts?

 

Ashley

 

It evidently looked fine for my guy. On the transcript we just wrote:

 

Statistics w/AP score = 5

 

Many colleges do not give a GPA bump for AP. Some actually told us they go through and redo GPAs based on the major 4 subjects and languages to eliminate weighting. When a parent asked why they should then bother with AP they were told, "everyone has AP" so their redoing the GPA still kept them all on the same level.

 

Personally, I doubt "everyone" has AP (esp in the same subjects), but I do think the majority have them or equivalent IB/DE in at least some subjects (at top colleges - where this question took place in a group info session). I also wonder if they truly do redo GPAs or just glance at the subjects they care about and write down a number (estimate a GPA). Redoing it (for real) would seem to take more time than they would allow for each app. BUT, those are just my thoughts vs what was said in the info session.

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The concern I sometimes have is that some will read a post or hear a speaker say that colleges don't give credit for AP (or CLEP) and decide that therefore, there is no point to pursuing the higher level coursework. In other words, if there isn't money or time saved in college that it is just "hoop jumping" (as someone in another venue labeled it. I'm going to have my sons attempting AP level government work this fall, because it is a subject that interests us, one that we have access and insight into, and it is a more concrete body of information than some others (like World History, which makes me a little crazy). I have no idea if we'll be able to find a site for the exams come test time. But I think we'll still have a great time digging into the topic.

 

I haven't read all the posts, and ironically we are heading out the door to the SAT II's, but I wanted to agree with this....

 

I don't think we will save any tuition money in this way: "I don't have to take those two required math classes because my CalcBC score allows me to claim credit for those classes in college, therefore, I can finish up a semester early."

 

The way we saved tuition via AP Classes (and for sure this is not the only way to achieve this aim, but it worked for us......) is that because of the outside verification she had, dd got into a 100% EFC meeting school. For us, that means a large savings. Additionally, she was accepted to another school with a large merit scholarship.

 

She wanted to take the classes for the academic challenge, but an additional benefit ended up being $$ saved in a different way than I first envisioned. She'll probably not finish college early, or skip any requirements, but for us, it did save money in the end.

 

Edited to correct my awful spelling!!

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It's funny that you mention this because I'm struggling with this issue, but in a different way than I think you meant. While AP credit looks good on a transcript, I feel like I'm giving up what I consider to be one of the most important benefits of home educating, being able to provide a tailor-made education. Of course, there is the option of taking the AP test after using our chosen curriculum. How does that "look" to colleges? I guess you wouldn't get the bump in GPA that an "AP" class would provide, but it could be labelled "honors", which would give a little boost. Any thoughts?

 

Ashley

About the "honors" label: there are regular discussions on this board about the meaningfulness of this term on a homeschool transcript. Some use it; others do not.

 

I am in the latter camp. My son took one official AP class; the others were homecooked. I listed the classes with the AP score as Creekland mentioned.

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I haven't read all the posts, and ironically we are heading out the door to the SAT II's, but I wanted to agree with this....

Just sending good wishes to the student taking SAT II's!

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Just sending good wishes to the student taking SAT II's!

 

Does anyone else hate the waiting while The Kid heads off to do his/her bubble-filling for the College Board folks?

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My guy is there taking the regular SAT (hopefully for the last time ever for my family). The wait goes until June 20th... Good luck/best wishes to all!

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(Dd13 is taking the SAT for the first time today. She took a practice exam this week and scored quite well ;) )

 

My son took many, many APs during high school (private school). He did so because he wanted to take the most challenging course work available. His scores were accepted by his university enabling him to either skip a required humanity course or to place into a higher level course. His Calc grade was not accepted due to his major, no big deal to retake Calc.

 

Dd18 took fewer APs because she had different interests and her school offered fewer APs. She will use her Psych score to move directly into a higher psych course. Fingers crossed, her Bio score should allow her to fill the science requirement. Her English scores won't do anything as they are in her major.

 

I believe the APs helped the kids get their merit scholarships----they did well in the classes and on the exams, and taking the AP classes showed that they challenged themselves relative to their schools' offerings.

 

If dd is home for high school, she will take AP courses, either from me (with College Board syllabus approval---I would like access to the teacher materials) or from an outside provider. We live in an academically competitive mid-Atlantic bubble. She will be compared against kids from this area.

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In our area, if college bound highschoolers are taking the IB path, AP's or in some cases both. An "honors" level is offered, but it is presumed this is for those who will either go with the AA transfer to college route or those who will go with less competitive admissions colleges. Right or wrong, it just is what it is for them. They register for their Fall classes in the Spring and the lobby conversations lately have been filled with the competitive angst of those unable to get X AP offered only every other year or unable to max out their schedule with AP's. I have listened as long debates rage about whether IB students should be allowed to enter first rounds for class registrations for AP courses given they already have a competitive option.

 

Tiger moms and cubs roam the brick and mortar landscape. It is fierce. Mention Common Core and the roars are deafening (from both sides).

 

I often have to remind myself that this is one pocket of the universe, but given there are enough competitive sorts in this area to fill the first year classes at three of the Ivies, I tend to believe there is some part of the "game" worth heeding.

 

The balance between presenting a competitive application and not being caught up in the frenzy is a hard one to strike. I find peace by taking a blended path, paying some homage to the great AP/SAT 2 world and mostly trying to reap the benefits of not being directly on the battleground.

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The way we saved tuition via AP Classes (and for sure this is not the only way to acheive this aim, but it worked for us......) is that because of the outside verification she had, dd got into a 100% EFC meeting school. For us, that means a large savings. Additionally, she was accepted to another school with a large merit scholarship.

 

What does 100% EFC meeting school mean?

 

Also, what are IB and DE?

 

So, if we are not really concerned about getting college credit at this point, and we are just doing the testing for outside verification for more selective schools, should we just focus on APs and SAT IIs, and not worry about doing the CLEP tests?

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...I often have to remind myself that this is one pocket of the universe, but given there are enough competitive sorts in this area to fill the first year classes at three of the Ivies, I tend to believe there is some part of the "game" worth heeding.

 

The balance between presenting a competitive application and not being caught up in the frenzy is a hard one to strike. I find peace by taking a blended path, paying some homage to the great AP/SAT 2 world and mostly trying to reap the benefits of not being directly on the battleground.

 

This. I, too, live in such a pocket. I AGONIZED (this time I am shouting, not substituting caps for italics the way I usually do) over the decision to substitute cc classes for AP's. Lisa and Jane, at least, probably remember my many panicky 8th grade posts. I was trying hard to strike that balance, to find a spot in the eye of the storm where we wouldn't be eliminating the more interesting engineering schools but where we could spend our time focusing on learning and not on hoops. I, too, sought peace through compromise and picked a blended path - very loose and exploratory, hands-on and travel and natural history and great books oriented for the first half of high school, then cc classes ramping up to comp 1 and 20 cr. of calc and science classes senior year. (The AP path would have necessitated a more formal first two years.) I was well aware that part of my panic was being caused by the "pocket" in which we live. Gwen's staunch defence of AP classes as the appropriate academic challenge for her children helped me to see that appropriate academic challenge for my children is where the focus needed to be, not on making the most competative transcript, but it was so hard to do while that frenzy swirled around me. Given the intensity of that frenzy, it is easy to see why transfer credit or higher placement didn't enter into my decision at all. I think Nscsribe's post is important because it shows how the educational culture varies from region to region. It may help those of you who are reading this discussion and wondering why on earth we wouldn't be worried about transfer credit, given the high price of a college education, or who are wondering why we are under the impression that one needs AP's to get into college, to understand.

 

I think whichever path you choose, it is important that you know exactly what you are trading for what. I can tell you that by choosing the cc path, I traded fantastic, curious, enthusiastic classmates (I actually know the teens) for peacewalking, independent projects, and more hands-on learning. I limited my son's college options and I also probably gave up the ability to go university out of the US. I knew this when I made the decision, back in 8th and again in 9th grade. There are advantages and disadvantages to every path. I think discussions like this are important because they help everyone to see what those advantages and disadvantages really are. It adds to the discussion that there are regional differences, even international differences.

 

I also think it is very important that you involve your children in your decisions. Even if they aren't terribly interested, it is important to tell them what they are giving up by taking one path versus another. It is their education.

 

If it is any comfort, I have watched my sister make similar decisions for (and with) her public school children. This last year, they traded one (of many) AP class for better chorus opportunities, better art opportunities, and the ability to continue varsity sports (yup - multiple ones).

 

Hugs to all those who are worrying themselves sick and those who are trying not to get caught up in that frenzy, grateful thanks to all those who are sharing their wisdom, and approving pats for those who are doing their research and trying not to make blind decisions,

 

Nan

 

PS - Goodness! I've written a book! Sorry. Off to make cookies lol.

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100% EFC = a school that gives grants+work study+ in our case a small amt. of federal loans for all costs except the Expected Family Contribution... as determined by the FAFSA.

 

IB = International Baccalaureate https://en.wikipedia...l_Baccalaureate

 

DE = Dual Enrollment

 

I think IF you are looking toward applying to selective schools, AP's and SAT II's instead of CLEP are the way to go. You really need to contact individual schools to see their requirements.

BUT I really like NScribes's way of looking at things. You pay homage to the AP's if/when you can. It's a balance of what your kid wants/needs and what the competitive schools want to see. Sometimes the stars align. Sometimes they don't. There's more than one way to peel the banana to adulthood. : ) Whatever that means.

 

HTH

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What does 100% EFC meeting school mean?

 

Also, what are IB and DE?

 

So, if we are not really concerned about getting college credit at this point, and we are just doing the testing for outside verification for more selective schools, should we just focus on APs and SAT IIs, and not worry about doing the CLEP tests?

 

DE is dual enrollment - taking courses at a college for both college and high school credit.

 

IB is international baccalaureate - some schools have IB programs. Not something you can do at home but these will be people your kids will be competing with for college spaces and scholarships

 

I believe (but not certain) that 100% EFC means the school meets all of the expected family contribution... that you would need to pay your EFC but the school would cover everything else, so no need for family (or student?) loans.

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There's more than one way to peel the banana to adulthood. : )

 

HTH

 

Now I have images of naked adult bananas! Funny images...pass more coffee please. :tongue_smilie:

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Does anyone else hate the waiting while The Kid heads off to do his/her bubble-filling for the College Board folks?

 

I never seem to be able to accomplish anything when my children are testing. I wander around aimlessly. I always wonder if they are borrowing my brain power lol.

 

Nan

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Nan

 

PS - Goodness! I've written a book! Sorry. Off to make cookies lol.

 

Cookies!!!! Now there is a topic I want to investigate!

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Jen and Dana - That is a really good point about the scholarships. I forgot to mention those as something that we thought we might be giving up by going the cc route, if nothing else because schools would be comparing apples and oranges. This turned out at least partially not to be true (partial scholarships at all schools) but it is worth considering. I suspect that CLEPs would not carry the same weight as AP classes for scholarship purposes? Perhaps Barbara H can tell us whether this is true or not.

 

Nan

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I also think it is very important that you involve your children in your decisions. Even if they aren't terribly interested, it is important to tell them what they are giving up by taking one path versus another. It is their education.

 

 

Nan,

 

This part of your post deserves to be highlighted. It is so important that our students understand the big picture and that all decisions lead them down different paths....the paths may intersect and end at the same end eventually, but the paths do lead to different routes getting there.

 

(FWIW, this is a common source of discussion in our household about life in general. When they are little, we have a book called My Path to Heaven which is meant to illustrate how all decisions we make lead us down different little paths and twists and turns in life. Some decisions have major consequences, some litte......but all are part of where we end up on our path of life at the end of each and every day.)

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This part of your post deserves to be highlighted. It is so important that our students understand the big picture and that all decisions lead them down different paths....the paths may intersect and end at the same end eventually, but the paths do lead to different routes getting there.

 

 

And I think it is also important for them to understand that sometimes you do not have an idea what the exact path will be if you make a certain decision and that there are no guarantees or crystal balls!

Honestly: with respect to college admissions, I have no idea whether our decision not to go the AP exam route will be harmful or not - but I know for a fact that it was the right decision for DD since she enjoys dual enrollment courses and stresses terribly about high stakes tests.

 

My DD often expressed how she wished for certainty: if you knew for sure that doing x guarantees outcome y, then it would be easy and you'd just have to do x, even if doing x was difficult. Alas, that's not how life works (and especially not the college admissions game). I find it very important that our students are aware that "right" decisions may increase probabilities, but not guarantee the desired outcomes.

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And I think it is also important for them to understand that sometimes you do not have an idea what the exact path will be if you make a certain decision and that there are no guarantees or crystal balls!

Honestly: with respect to college admissions, I have no idea whether our decision not to go the AP exam route will be harmful or not - but I know for a fact that it was the right decision for DD since she enjoys dual enrollment courses and stresses terribly about high stakes tests.

 

My DD often expressed how she wished for certainty: if you knew for sure that doing x guarantees outcome y, then it would be easy and you'd just have to do x, even if doing x was difficult. Alas, that's not how life works (and especially not the college admissions game). I find it very important that our students are aware that "right" decisions may increase probabilities, but not guarantee the desired outcomes.

 

Definitely.

 

Life lessons.

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Good point, Regentrude, about making sure our children know that nothing is certain. I don't know how many times I told mine that not taking AP's might turn out to be a bad decision from a competative transcript point of view. Like you, it was so obvious as we did it that it was the right choice educationally for each child that I at least had that comfort. Looking forward in time was pretty scary, though. It all worked out for us and hopefully it will work out for your daughter, too.

 

Nan

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Wow! I took a look at that document from FL (where we also live) and was surprised to see that only 41% of students got college credit for the AP classes. Looks like CC is a much better option with 94% getting college credit.

 

 

That's about right, depending on the school. Dd read her AP info, and here's how it works. The top 20 percent on the AP exam get a five, the next 20 percent a 4, etc. The colleges that do give college credit give it for students based on their AP score. If that's at least a 4, that would be about 40 percent of the kids who take it. Some colleges will give credit for a 3 & up. Some give no credit no matter what as their first year courses go deeper, etc, than AP classes do.

 

As far as getting an honours credit in college, my understanding is that AP classes are college level, but I've never heard honours college level. In our case, taking an AP exam has given my dd the opportunity to fail a test for the first time in her life because she can't just show up, do the assignments & get an A; the homework counts for zero, so she didn't always do it all, and then she hadn't learned it well enough. They take so many tests that it didn't put her overall grade in jeopardy. However, I"m not paying $600 for this class as she's taking it at ps, where we sent her during her sophomore so she'd finally have to write essays, which, as it turns out, she excels at even though she hates them with a passion. She took AP Calculus B/C this year.

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That's about right, depending on the school. Dd read her AP info, and here's how it works. The top 20 percent on the AP exam get a five, the next 20 percent a 4, etc. The colleges that do give college credit give it for students based on their AP score. If that's at least a 4, that would be about 40 percent of the kids who take it. Some colleges will give credit for a 3 & up. Some give no credit no matter what as their first year courses go deeper, etc, than AP classes do.

 

As far as getting an honours credit in college, my understanding is that AP classes are college level, but I've never heard honours college level. In our case, taking an AP exam has given my dd the opportunity to fail a test for the first time in her life because she can't just show up, do the assignments & get an A; the homework counts for zero, so she didn't always do it all, and then she hadn't learned it well enough. They take so many tests that it didn't put her overall grade in jeopardy. However, I"m not paying $600 for this class as she's taking it at ps, where we sent her during her sophomore so she'd finally have to write essays, which, as it turns out, she excels at even though she hates them with a passion. She took AP Calculus B/C this year.

 

It's possible that there might have been a 20 percent spread on an exam. But I've not seen an indication that there was a straight curve. Could you elaborate? I found a score distribution for the 2011 exams. There are some where less than 10% received a 5 and some where almost 50% earned a 5. Physics C, studio art and foreign languages had high percentages of students earning 3-5. Most of the other exams look to be in the 45-68% range. Given the number of schools where a high percentage of college bound students take AP as the default level, even if they aren't yet ready for college level material, that feels about right to me. Here is the score distribution for 2012. Looks similar, although German scores dropped significantly (I think this was the first year of the revised German exam). This report is intriguing, though I think you have to consider what it reflects. It lists the top colleges receiving AP score reports. May not indicate how many AP exams the average successful applicant has. But it might shed light on how many exams are taken by the average person who is serious enough about the school to be sending them score reports. Not sure if it reflects total scores reported to each school or reports of new scores for each year. And class size matters. University of Texas is the top school for reports, but that reflects an average lower than three scores per student

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Okay, thanks in advance for bearing with me as I am sorting through this here! I was thinking that DS would most likely take some DE classes, either at the CC or one of the two local universities, but I wasn't thinking that doing that AND doing the AP exams were mutually exclusive. Can they not do both? I was thinking that was one cool thing about homeschooling, that he could go ahead and take some college level classes to prove to college admissions people that he is capable of doing college level work, but also to take a few AP exams just because most of the colleges he's looking at state very explicitly they want to see a certain number of APs and/or SAT IIs. But I mean, I was just looking at the AP exam as being adjunct to the DE classes, and that he would just study for the exam, in addition to taking a CC or university course on the topic. I don't even know which he would take, I am just assuming math and science, and maybe foreign language if he's feeling prepared for that by then.

 

I guess my memory of these kinds of tests is that they are more of a hoop. I did only average on tests like the SAT until I actually did "test prep" and then it was heaps easier. So they seem like a lot of the success depends on preparing for that particular test.

 

So, can we do both? Or is that too ambitious? Are you guys saying that because your kids took DE classes, that they then just didn't have time to adequately prepare for and take the APs?

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I, too, sought peace through compromise and picked a blended path - very loose and exploratory, hands-on and travel and natural history and great books oriented for the first half of high school, then cc classes ramping up to comp 1 and 20 cr. of calc and science classes senior year. (The AP path would have necessitated a more formal first two years.) I was well aware that part of my panic was being caused by the "pocket" in which we live.

 

 

I think whichever path you choose, it is important that you know exactly what you are trading for what. I can tell you that by choosing the cc path, I traded fantastic, curious, enthusiastic classmates (I actually know the teens) for peacewalking, independent projects, and more hands-on learning. I limited my son's college options and I also probably gave up the ability to go university out of the US. I knew this when I made the decision, back in 8th and again in 9th grade. There are advantages and disadvantages to every path. I think discussions like this are important because they help everyone to see what those advantages and disadvantages really are. It adds to the discussion that there are regional differences, even international differences.

 

 

So, do you mean that he started doing CC classes in 11th grade, and then as a senior he did 20 credits worth of math and science at the CC? Wow that seems like a lot in one year. Or do you mean all together he had 20 math and science CC credits when he graduated high school?

 

How do you feel like that limited his college options? because that was honestly what I was thinking DS would do, and I thought that was going to actually open up his options, that he would have all this college level work to show, not about getting credit for it, but to show as his high school work.

 

Please expose my skewed thinking! :)

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Okay, thanks in advance for bearing with me as I am sorting through this here! I was thinking that DS would most likely take some DE classes, either at the CC or one of the two local universities, but I wasn't thinking that doing that AND doing the AP exams were mutually exclusive. Can they not do both? I was thinking that was one cool thing about homeschooling, that he could go ahead and take some college level classes to prove to college admissions people that he is capable of doing college level work, but also to take a few AP exams just because most of the colleges he's looking at state very explicitly they want to see a certain number of APs and/or SAT IIs. But I mean, I was just looking at the AP exam as being adjunct to the DE classes, and that he would just study for the exam, in addition to taking a CC or university course on the topic. I don't even know which he would take, I am just assuming math and science, and maybe foreign language if he's feeling prepared for that by then.

 

I guess my memory of these kinds of tests is that they are more of a hoop. I did only average on tests like the SAT until I actually did "test prep" and then it was heaps easier. So they seem like a lot of the success depends on preparing for that particular test.

 

So, can we do both? Or is that too ambitious? Are you guys saying that because your kids took DE classes, that they then just didn't have time to adequately prepare for and take the APs?

I would not have a student take a course DE and then take the AP exam for that course for several reasons. One, the courses are very likely to NOT be coordinated with the exam and it would take a lot of extra work to prep for the exam. And two, there is no real need. DE courses demonstrate level of achievement. AP exams do the same. Choose either to study an AP course and take the exam (and it can be a homemade course) or choose DE.

 

What you can do is have a combination of the 2, but covering different courses. For example, you could have him take an AP math or science and then DE a humanities or vice versa.

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It's possible that there might have been a 20 percent spread on an exam. But I've not seen an indication that there was a straight curve. Could you elaborate? I found a score distribution for the 2011 exams. There are some where less than 10% received a 5 and some where almost 50% earned a 5. Physics C, studio art and foreign languages had high percentages of students earning 3-5. Most of the other exams look to be in the 45-68% range. Given the number of schools where a high percentage of college bound students take AP as the default level, even if they aren't yet ready for college level material, that feels about right to me. Here is the score distribution for 2012. Looks similar, although German scores dropped significantly (I think this was the first year of the revised German exam). This report is intriguing, though I think you have to consider what it reflects. It lists the top colleges receiving AP score reports. May not indicate how many AP exams the average successful applicant has. But it might shed light on how many exams are taken by the average person who is serious enough about the school to be sending them score reports. Not sure if it reflects total scores reported to each school or reports of new scores for each year. And class size matters. University of Texas is the top school for reports, but that reflects an average lower than three scores per student

 

 

Thanks for those links!

 

I would not have a student take a course DE and then take the AP exam for that course for several reasons. One, the courses are very likely to NOT be coordinated with the exam and it would take a lot of extra work to prep for the exam. And two, there is no real need. DE courses demonstrate level of achievement. AP exams do the same. Choose either to study an AP course and take the exam (and it can be a homemade course) or choose DE.

 

What you can do is have a combination of the 2, but covering different courses. For example, you could have him take an AP math or science and then DE a humanities or vice versa.

 

 

I agree completely... few DE courses match AP AND it's better to have two different courses than two of the same thing.

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So all of these questions are swimming in my brain right now:

 

1) whether or not it's a "good" idea to take CC classes

 

2) whether or not to take APs, and if so, which ones

 

3) if he takes a CC class in a subject, is that an acceptable "replacement" for having an AP exam on your transcript (like does an A in a physics class at the cc or local uni = a 5 on the AP Physics exam, in terms of how that looks on a college application?)

 

4) Will taking too many CC classes impact his ability to go away to college as a freshman and receive financial aid? (I had been operating on the assumption that he could take the CC classes as an intro to college level work, and AS some of his high school credit, not necessarily to GET college credit.)

 

It seems like the answer to all of these starts out with, "It depends...on where you want to go to school and what you want to major in..." That feels like a hard decision to make at this juncture, so I want to just do whatever will keep all doors open. He seems to me like he is headed on some type of engineering/physics path, though that could take many different branches down the road. There are so many choices there. I had thought before that he would want to apply to more selective top schools, but after visiting our local uni and taking a tour of the physics department, they talked extensively about the research their undergrads are doing. They said because they don't have a graduate physics program, it's the undergrads that get to play with the big stuff, and I was super impressed hearing them talk. That made me really rethink that. So, then, it goes back to, do you just aim for the highest school you might want to apply to, and then you are covered in terms of anywhere else you might apply?

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So all of these questions are swimming in my brain right now:

 

1) whether or not it's a "good" idea to take CC classes

 

2) whether or not to take APs, and if so, which ones

 

3) if he takes a CC class in a subject, is that an acceptable "replacement" for having an AP exam on your transcript (like does an A in a physics class at the cc or local uni = a 5 on the AP Physics exam, in terms of how that looks on a college application?)

 

4) Will taking too many CC classes impact his ability to go away to college as a freshman and receive financial aid? (I had been operating on the assumption that he could take the CC classes as an intro to college level work, and AS some of his high school credit, not necessarily to GET college credit.)

 

It seems like the answer to all of these starts out with, "It depends...on where you want to go to school and what you want to major in..." That feels like a hard decision to make at this juncture, so I want to just do whatever will keep all doors open. He seems to me like he is headed on some type of engineering/physics path, though that could take many different branches down the road. There are so many choices there. I had thought before that he would want to apply to more selective top schools, but after visiting our local uni and taking a tour of the physics department, they talked extensively about the research their undergrads are doing. They said because they don't have a graduate physics program, it's the undergrads that get to play with the big stuff, and I was super impressed hearing them talk. That made me really rethink that. So, then, it goes back to, do you just aim for the highest school you might want to apply to, and then you are covered in terms of anywhere else you might apply?

 

So your son is 13, right? When my college senior was that age, we thought that he was headed into engineering. Since my husband and I are math people with ties to engineering schools, we had a good idea of the foundational track that he needed. By this I mean academics. When my son was thirteen, I was more focused on academics than thinking about college transfer credits or college apps.

 

Frankly I think this paid off for us. Around age 15, The Boy had a reckoning. He is a science kid with a passion for history and a love of the outdoors. He announced that he wanted to be an archaeologist.

 

There are few undergrad programs in archaeology (more in anthropology), Some schools put archaeology in their art history or Classics departments. Did we do a disservice to The Boy by making sure that he had a solid foundation in science, mathematics, Great Books and foreign languages? Absolutely not! When my son began looking at colleges, he was looking at faculty CVs to insure that he would find a mentor.

 

By the way, regarding your uni without a grad program: this is a selling point at many of the LACs as well as smaller state unis.

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if he takes a CC class in a subject, is that an acceptable "replacement" for having an AP exam on your transcript (like does an A in a physics class at the cc or local uni = a 5 on the AP Physics exam, in terms of how that looks on a college application?)...

 

 

It seems like the answer to all of these starts out with, "It depends...on where you want to go to school and what you want to major in..." That feels like a hard decision to make at this juncture, so I want to just do whatever will keep all doors open.

I think a lot of us struggle with these decisions. In a way, the homeschooling route is more difficult because our kids have so many more choices than the traditionally schooled student. I have been working on my rising 9th grader's 4-year plan. My husband was scratching his head over some of my choices. I then realized that I was worrying too much about trying to second guess what an admissions person would like instead of basing my choices on what was the best path for my son.

 

I am using the requirements at the top-tier schools as my educational template, but I am taking the path that I feel is best academically for my kids, and I am trying not to worry so much about how that path will be viewed by an admissions committee.

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So all of these questions are swimming in my brain right now:

 

We've all BTDT... ;) It's not an easy time, but in the end, IMO, it does work out. We may not have all chosen the same paths, but our kids are out there doing things they love. College A might not end up working, but we've found they've loved College B.

 

1) whether or not it's a "good" idea to take CC classes

 

2) whether or not to take APs, and if so, which ones

 

3) if he takes a CC class in a subject, is that an acceptable "replacement" for having an AP exam on your transcript (like does an A in a physics class at the cc or local uni = a 5 on the AP Physics exam, in terms of how that looks on a college application?)

 

4) Will taking too many CC classes impact his ability to go away to college as a freshman and receive financial aid? (I had been operating on the assumption that he could take the CC classes as an intro to college level work, and AS some of his high school credit, not necessarily to GET college credit.)

 

It seems like the answer to all of these starts out with, "It depends...on where you want to go to school and what you want to major in..."

 

This is the answer.

 

That feels like a hard decision to make at this juncture, so I want to just do whatever will keep all doors open. He seems to me like he is headed on some type of engineering/physics path, though that could take many different branches down the road. There are so many choices there. I had thought before that he would want to apply to more selective top schools, but after visiting our local uni and taking a tour of the physics department, they talked extensively about the research their undergrads are doing. They said because they don't have a graduate physics program, it's the undergrads that get to play with the big stuff, and I was super impressed hearing them talk. That made me really rethink that. So, then, it goes back to, do you just aim for the highest school you might want to apply to, and then you are covered in terms of anywhere else you might apply?

 

We tried to keep all doors open. We did a couple AP and a few DE as they fit my guy and his schedule + our options. It worked. He's happy and doing well. We did make sure we kept the credits low enough to not interfere with freshman status, but that's about all I was "careful" with. Although, come to think of it, I was also careful about not doing Med school pre-req courses as DE... that's for med school possibilities - not undergrad.

 

You're researching... I think you'll do just fine and have many options open to your guy when the time is right. Doing nothing could be scary if wanting a top college...

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I am using the requirements at the top-tier schools as my educational template, but I am taking the path that I feel is best academically for my kids, and I am trying not to worry so much about how that path will be viewed by an admissions committee.

Another consideration: when my son was in high school, a number of elite schools changed their policies from accepting a number of APs to limiting applicants to credit from three exams. I have seen the acceptable scores for credit change from 3s to 4s and 5s.

 

Students at my local public high school had a few AP opportunities. Now the local CC is sending instructors to the high school so that students can take dual enrollment courses on their own campus, thus eliminating the transportation issue. I suspect that the number of students taking AP courses there will decline with this new option.

 

The point is that things are always changing. I really believe that we as homeschoolers can take advantage of our unique situation to develop our kids skills while taking advantage of opportunities that brick and mortar kids cannot necessarily do with the rigidity of their schedules. (This includes travel.) Homeschool kids do not need to resemble brick and mortar kids! Let's let them blossom!

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So all of these questions are swimming in my brain right now:

 

1) whether or not it's a "good" idea to take CC classes

 

2) whether or not to take APs, and if so, which ones

 

3) if he takes a CC class in a subject, is that an acceptable "replacement" for having an AP exam on your transcript (like does an A in a physics class at the cc or local uni = a 5 on the AP Physics exam, in terms of how that looks on a college application?)

 

4) Will taking too many CC classes impact his ability to go away to college as a freshman and receive financial aid? (I had been operating on the assumption that he could take the CC classes as an intro to college level work, and AS some of his high school credit, not necessarily to GET college credit.)

 

It seems like the answer to all of these starts out with, "It depends...on where you want to go to school and what you want to major in..." That feels like a hard decision to make at this juncture, so I want to just do whatever will keep all doors open. He seems to me like he is headed on some type of engineering/physics path, though that could take many different branches down the road. There are so many choices there. I had thought before that he would want to apply to more selective top schools, but after visiting our local uni and taking a tour of the physics department, they talked extensively about the research their undergrads are doing. They said because they don't have a graduate physics program, it's the undergrads that get to play with the big stuff, and I was super impressed hearing them talk. That made me really rethink that. So, then, it goes back to, do you just aim for the highest school you might want to apply to, and then you are covered in terms of anywhere else you might apply?

 

Yes, this (the bolded.) I also wanted to affirm that you are wise to consider a school that provides research opportunities for undergrads. This was a factor in our decision, and we did choose a school without a graduate program.

 

Your questions:

 

1) For reasons unrelated to admissions and scholarships, I do not care for CC at all, not as DE and not even as a stepping stone to university. (Just my very humble opinion for our own particular situation.)

 

2) It depends. ;-) (see below)

 

3) I'm not sure how these things look. Again, I think it depends. (see below)

 

4) Usually CC classes taken in high school as DE do not jeopardize freshman status.

 

I'm going to just tell my sons' stories. Maybe it will help someone. For background, as I said above, we do not care for CC. In addition, we knew we weren't aiming for ivies or extremely selective schools. We knew well ahead of time that they would probably apply to quality, private Christian universities or possibly state universities, so we planned with this in mind. (Note: All our APs were self-study.)

 

Son #1- B.S. Biology going on to dental school. For this reason, he was careful not to accept any science credit that wasn't from university, but in the end the only class his dental school was really concerned about was biochemistry. He did take credit for several humanities CLEPs, but lost some (not all) of them when he transferred his senior year from the private university to the state university. Incidentally, he says the science education he was receiving at the private school was far superior to what he got at what is considered our best (for science) state university.

 

Son #2 - B.S. Aeronautical Science got credit for several CLEPs and thanked me repeatedly for providing this option. The majority of his classmates had to take summer classes in order to finish this program in four years. He says most of them were "languishing" in history classes their final year while ds was spending time with his wife.

 

Son #3 - Computer Science senior accepted almost 40 credits for CLEP and AP from his private university. He was awarded a full four-year academic scholarship long before the admissions department knew anything about the APs he had done, leading me to believe that for the types of schools we are applying to, APs don't have much effect on admissions. Having the AP and CLEP credit left room for him to take a minor in his true passion, Biblical languages. His minor contributes greatly to his enjoyment of his college education, so we are very thankful for the CLEP and AP credit he received.

 

One important note: He accepted AP Physics credit, but wasn't awarded credit for the lab, so he ended up taking the lab without the class. That was a miserable experience which I do not recommend. (His professor did let him out of the Physics 2 lab. I think he realized how awful taking the lab without the class had been.)

 

Son #4 - History/Pre-law junior accepted 30-something credits for CLEP and AP from his private college. He's another one who was awarded a very large four-year academic scholarship which had nothing to do with his APs. He also received a smaller scholarship, and the APs may have boosted his application for that; we're not sure. His AP/CLEP credit will help him graduate a year early (in 3 years). He did take credit for several classes in his field, and I'll be honest, I'm not sure that didn't leave holes for him. It seems to me his professors have been generous in helping him catch up to speed with things he missed by not taking the lower level classes in his major.

 

Son #5 - nursing freshman has taken several CLEPs, but not in the sciences as he hopes to go on to nurse practitioner school. He's my one who took a CC/DE class which only strengthened my distaste for our CC.

 

Like I said, I do not know what works across the board, but this is how it has played out so far for us. Maybe if there are some in our situation, with similar goals, our stories might help with decisions.

 

ETA: I wanted to add that my motivation for suggesting they do the APs and CLEPs was to give them a challenge. Most boys do well having something besides their mom/teacher pushing them along. However, while my primary motivation was the challenge, their primary motivation was the possibility of college credit. They enjoyed having that carrot.

 

We carefully researched which exams were accepted by which of the colleges we were interested in. Additionally, we checked into which classes were required for which majors.

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There just seem to be so many choices, where to begin! We visited the physics department at the local uni and they talked about the amazing research their undergrads were doing, because they don't have a grad program, and I was really impressed. It made me rethink the college selection process. But it still feels overwhelming, and I don't know where to begin.

 

 

Our local university is the same in regards to their physics research for undergrads. But, in addition to that question you really need to know where their undergrads are being accepted into grad school. WHile where an undergrad physics degree is completed is not as important as grad, it does matter where the students are accepted into grad school.

 

FWIW, our ds is passionate about physics. He wanted real physics labs. He opted to take physics at the local universities. For cal, he took AoPS cal course and studied for the AP bc exam separately. That was an excellent decision b/c the AoPS course is fabulous and he was more than prepared for multivariable cal and diffEQ. So.....2 different approaches worked well for this particular student.

 

AP scores are not available until July, so they are not available for admissions purposes if taken during 12th. DE grades may be available for admission purposes (depending on application deadlines and whether or not the courses are taken on the quarter, trimester, or semester system.)

 

Another FWIW, APs have a lot of pressure b/c so much rides on a single exam. Some kids do great with that. DE requires interaction with college students, disruption in the homeschool schedule with added travel time, and self-regulation (I have no idea what goes on in my kids' DE courses.)

 

Knowing the reputation of the quality of the courses matters as well. For example, we did not allow either of our STEM students to DE for math or science at the local CCs b/c of the quality of the courses. DE at the CCs was limited to non-major coursework. Others have posted that CCs in their area are good.

 

FWIW, I wouldn't worry so much about admissions' perceptions. I would focus more on a solid educational base that demonstrates his level of abilities. APs/DE are both going to reflect well. The main difference may be conferred credit or not.

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It seems like the answer to all of these starts out with, "It depends...on where you want to go to school and what you want to major in..." That feels like a hard decision to make at this juncture...

 

 

This may not be the answer you want, but I'll say it anyway. It is a hard decision at this juncture simply because it is not the decision you need to make at this point. The single most important thing you can be doing for your 13, 14 or 15 year olds is to focus on them. Don't obsess at this point about college admissions. Focus on providing an individualized, unique education that suits your child by building up weaknesses and going in depth in interests. Focus on activities, mentorships, volunteering or clubs or anything else that your child is passionate about. Put that flexible schedule to good use -- your child could be volunteering at a museum during school hours, for instance.

 

And the main reason for doing all this is because for the next 4 years you are still a homeschooling family. Why did you start homeschooling in the first place? Those reasons should still be the the answer to why you are homeschooling now. The other important reason for keeping the focus on homeschooling your child is that these years are the reward for all the hard work you've put in before. Older teens are so much more fun than younger teens. I am so glad we spent much of high school sharing books and having lively conversations while I was driving one or the other teen to their various activities.

 

Also, remember how much your child changed from the age of 3 to the age of 8? Well, fasten your seat belt 'cause the changes you'll witness over the next 4-5 years are just as staggeringly huge. You can't possibly plan a specific path for an 18yo because you don't have that 18yo in your house, yet. Again -- focus on the child you have NOW, and cherish the time you have NOW.

 

OK -- enough of my soap box! Here are some nuts and bolts thoughts...

 

One big reason homeschoolers want CC courses or want AP or SAT II test scores is to validate the mommy grades on the transcript. There is a chapter devoted to this in the WTM.

 

A second reason is that many of us need to outsources courses. For me it was higher math and science. Foreign language, in spite of my best efforts, was also better farmed out. In my area the community colleges are good, but unfortunately severely impacted due to budget cuts the last few years. You can get into classes as a highschooler, but it takes nerves of steel, lots of guile and cunning to crash into the courses you want. My boys preferred being on campus with a live teacher rather than taking an on-line class, so they played the CC game.

 

My boys also hated high stakes tests and I personally despise them, so we designed things to avoid AP or SAT II tests. It's true!

 

Finally. The college admissions counselors we heard never said they wanted X number of APs. What they said at college after college was they wanted to see that applicants had taken the most challenging classes available to them. From homeschoolers they wanted to know what was unique about our homeschool, what things my boys had done with themselves as they weren't trapped in a brick and mortar school 6 hours a day. This goes back to my saying to focus on homeschooling your child instead of focusing on what is needed for college admissions. An interesting, engaged, and passionate applicant is far more interesting to an admissions committee than another AP clone. And an 18yo homeschool grad who has had the chance to be out in the world and explore his interests and talents has a far better idea of what to do with his (or her) life.

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Don't obsess at this point about college admissions. Focus on providing an individualized, unique education that suits your child by building up weaknesses and going in depth in interests. Focus on activities, mentorships, volunteering or clubs or anything else that your child is passionate about. Put that flexible schedule to good use -- your child could be volunteering at a museum during school hours, for instance.

 

Well said! :iagree: :iagree: :thumbup:

 

And if, after you have custom-designed an awesome high school education for your kid, some college isn't impressed by it and rejects your child, that is a pretty good clue that that college was the WRONG college for you kid in the first place! :001_smile:

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