By Jean Burk
Should my child use the CLEP tests to get credit for college courses? This question resonates with many families looking to reduce the cost of higher education. CLEP program has increased in popularity over the last few years. Stay at home, save money, and get college credit. Sounds like a win-win situation, but consider all the facts before jumping head first into this new endeavor.
The College-Level Examination Program ® or CLEP is a program that allows students of any age the chance to gain college credit through a series of exams in undergraduate college courses. Like AP courses, there are several advantages to doing well on CLEP tests. The CLEP program is not necessarily used as substitution college. Many students takes theses tests to prepare and enhance their college experience.
• Take fewer classes in college. You can get college credit for information you already know. If you have already studied a particular subject, you can channel that knowledge into college hours and get credit for your high school knowledge. CLEPing out of beginner classes can also help you jump into the more advanced and interesting courses college has to offer.
• Spend less money on education. CLEP exams coast roughly $65, which is marginal when compared to the cost of college credit hour. CLEP exams are also free to those who are serving in the military.
• Finish your Degree. If you lack certain courses to be eligible for graduation, CLEP exams can be great way to help you get those last few college hours.
• Credibility of your degree. Many families have opted to have their child do all their college work through some form of “distance learning” program. Although correspondence courses have grown in acceptance, many employers and institutes of high learning are reluctant to accept these degrees as legitimate.
• Longer than you think. Some programs claim that a four year degree can be obtained in six months through accelerated learning and then CLEPing out of normal college classes. Don’t just take the word of someone who has written a book; do more research to find out if this is actually possible.
• Scholarships nullified. Imagine spending a lot of time working on CLEP tests to then find out that you have too many college hours to qualify for scholarships at the university of your choice. Many students are considered transfer students because of their “earned college credit” and can miss out on scholarships reserved for new students and incoming freshmen.
The decision about when and how many CLEP tests should be administered is a personal choice. CLEPing certain classes can actually benefit students in several ways. Too much CLEPing could be more of a hindrance. Make sure you base your decisions on facts and research and what will best fit the needs of your family. A happy medium might be to enter college with some credits, get scholarships and then CLEP out of as many classes as you want. Ask a local school advisor or go to www.collegeboard.com for more information on the CLEP program.