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AP vs CLEP vs Dual Enrollment vs College Degree at home

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On 11/12/2015 at 6:27 PM, Twinzen said:

This board is a wealth of information!!!!
I have an 8th grader and when I think I've decided one thing, another pops up!

I've looked into NCAA requirements ✔ï¸
Planned coursework, feel good about materials✔ï¸

Our umbrella school does a great job with transcripts, etc so no worries there.

Universities where we live like to see Sat subject tests.

What about AP, CLEP.... I was considering using College Prep, for dual credit, but I'm so confused on what path to take. I have no idea what is best! I'm not certain I can adequately prepare him for testing.


Hi Twinzen,
I'm starting a new thread with your questions, as I think they will likely get lost at the end of that great thread by Nan in MASS ("To parents of freshmen (sophomores next year)"), as it it about 1.5 years old. ?

Whether to do AP or CLEP or College Prep/College Plus -- or even dual enrollment with your local community college or university -- is a tough call. The pros and cons for each option are so different, depending on your student's abilities and goals, and the quality of options available to you, and what the end goals and needs for college are...


AP (Advanced Placement)

cost = $100 (approx)  (AP financial aid for low income families )
length = varies on the subject (1.5 to 3 hours, approx.)
when given = two weeks in May (test schedule); not every test given at every location each year
when to take it = 11th & 12th grades are typical, but earlier if completed the study/coursework
where given = at some local high schools 
purposes = tests understanding of advanced & college level material while still a high school student / proof of "mommy grades" and advanced work on transcript / help with admission to top tier & competitive schools / depending on the score (and the school), some colleges grant college credit for AP, or allow freshmen into honors programs due to AP

what to do (for homeschoolers) = at least a year in advance of the test desired, locate a school willing to allow homeschooled student to test with their students, pay the fee, study AP coursework over the school year (student can take AP test without taking an AP class); on test day be sure to bring state-issued photo ID

pros = many colleges grant credit for a score of 3, 4, or 5 -- check the websites of the colleges of interest to see which tests they grant credit for and what courses the tests substitute for;  saves money and time at college when credit is granted; helps with college admissions and scholarships; can open doors for college freshmen to enter honors program or start college at advanced level

cons = not all colleges grant credit; not all tests available at all test locations; can be very difficult to get a high school test location to allow your student to test with their students; have to plan and make arrangements a year in advance; the test is only given once at the end of the year -- if the student has a bad day, can blow a year of work; not a good option for a student who just isn't a good "tester"


CLEP (College Level Examination Program)
cost = $80-125 (approx)
length = varies
when given = varies (you schedule appt. with the test center)
when to take it = as an adult; or 11th & 12th grades -- but earlier if completed studying
where given = community colleges and universities
purposes = test for college credit / proof of "mommy grade" on transcript

what to do = online registration for scheduling a specific test/location; use CLEP study materials to prepare for the test; on test day bring payment and state-issued photo ID

pros = saves money and time at college when credit is granted; helps with college admissions and scholarships; can open doors for college freshmen to enter honors program or start college at advanced level; if the student is good at studying and test prep/test taking, can take numerous tests in the course of a year; can schedule at any time; can re-take the test 6 months later

cons = not all colleges grant credit; most colleges limit the total amount of credits granted via test-for-credit; not a good option for a student who just isn't a good "tester"

neutral = no grade or GPA attached to CLEP credits; check the websites of the colleges of interest to see which tests they grant credit for and what courses the tests substitute for


College Plus (now Lumerit) (or other similar business or DIY option of earning a college degree at home)

who is this option for = student needs to be self-motivated and dedicated; student needs to be able to learn well independently, through books/tests and online classes and not need the motivation of a live teacher/class

pros = much cheaper and faster way of earning a college degree

cons = only available for certain degrees; since much of the degree is via test-for-credit (no grades), the degree may not have the needed GPA for entering a graduate program later on

neutral = can slow the pace as needed


Dual Enrollment
Taking college courses from a 2-year Community College (CC) or 4-year University while still in high school, earning "dual credit" (credits count both towards high school AND college)

pros = many credits widely accepted by many universities; some states offer FREE dual enrollment for high school students; live teachers/class interaction; can earn enough credits while still in high school to knock out 1-2 years of college in advance, or even earn an Associate's degree by high school graduation; student gets to "practice" college in advance

cons = some CCs are so full of returning adult learners that high school students can't get it; a few colleges limit how many college credits a high school student can have and still be considered a freshman, which is the year of college which offers the most scholarship money (most colleges do not limit this); top tier and selective colleges often do not accept dual enrollment credits toward a degree; some CCs have poor teaching/reputations and credits are not accepted by universities

neutral = all dual enrollment courses count towards the GPA on the student's permanent college transcript


How to Know What Test (If Any) to Take?
In deciding which test(s) your student should take, it helps to know the answers to questions such as:
- what college program/degree is the student going for 
- what schools does the student plan to apply to
- do those schools grant credit for CLEP, AP, dual enrollment
- are those schools competitive, so that AP tests help with admissions
- do APs open doors at those schools to honors courses or special programs and research opportunities to freshmen (or do they not make a difference)
- how big of a factor are finances to your student going to college:
     * high ACT / SAT scores are used by colleges to award scholarship $$
     * high score on the PSAT can lead to scholarship $$
     * high AP and SATII SAT II scores show high level of work and can lead to scholarship $$
    * CLEP tests, when accepted by the college towards the degree program, can reduce overall time at the college (and hence, reduce cost of college)

Edited by Lori D.
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