Imagine your 7th grader earning real transferable college credit for the knowledge she just gained in her middle school history class. Are you astounded that this is possible?
Students of all ages can turn their regular school learning into real college credit in 33 different subject areas—thanks to the College Board’s CLEP® program.
CLEP® testing in middle school and high school can save you thousands.
CLEP® provides one of the best, fastest, cheapest ways for any student to earn real college credit before they ever set foot on a college campus. And if your middle schooler can do it? Then the high school or college student in your life certainly can.
Your child’s next school break might be an excellent time for him or her to work on earning CLEP® credits. Here are three steps you can take now to make that happen.
Parents, look over these 11 fairly easy things you can do to maximize college savings using CLEP®.
(Only the first three need to be done right now.)
1. Take a look at all the CLEP® tests there are to choose from.
I’ll provide a list for you at the bottom of this page.
Do you see one CLEP® test that your child might be close to passing—based simply on what he or she has learned in the past?
2. Download the free fact sheet on the individual CLEP® test you’re considering.
A free “at-a-glance” fact sheet for each individual CLEP® test is available here.
3. Have your child take a practice CLEP® test—for free—online.
Free CLEP® practice tests are available at http://www.free-clep-prep.com.
No pressure. Your daughter can even pause the practice test if she needs to. When she finishes, she can review her wrong answers to see where the gaps are in her knowledge before taking the real exam.
4. If your child needs a little help to pass, use these resources.
Consider borrowing or purchasing some commercially available CLEP® test preparation material. This won’t be expensive. CLEP® study guide books are available at your local library. Online CLEP® test preparation is available here. In addition, sites such as quizlet.com, varsitytutors.com, proprofs.com, cram.com, and amazon.com have CLEP® flashcards on every subject ready to go instantly. Have your daughter study the individual topics she’s weak in, and then register to take the actual CLEP® test on that subject and see what happens.
5. If you’re a homeschooler, make a CLEP® test the final exam for as many of your homeschool courses as possible.
This is a brilliant idea! If you’re a homeschooler, please share this post with all the homeschooling parents you know. Tell them that JeannieBurlowski.com will help them to get their kids through college debt-free.
6. When your family starts choosing colleges when your child’s in 10th grade, do this.
Have your kid ask each college he’s considering, “How many of my AP, CLEP, and dual enrollment credits will you accept? I’m planning to graduate from college in fewer than four years.”
Want to quickly check an individual college’s CLEP® policy from your phone or computer? Look up the college’s profile on the College Board website.
7. If you’re a resident of Minnesota, here’s great news.
The 31 institutions in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system accept an unlimited number of CLEP® credits.
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you know that I usually advise students against attending state universities—because (with the exception of state university honors programs) it can be difficult (or impossible) for a typical college student to graduate from a state university in four years. (See the article I’ve written on this subject here.)
So why am I mentioning MnSCU in a favorable light here? Because if a student amasses a good number of CLEP® and dual enrollment credits in high school early on, that will help him or her to complete even a state university education in record time—making the discount cost of the state university a true bargain.
8. Start with a CLEP® test that covers a subject your child has already had in school.
Many 8th graders have already had enough U.S. History to be close to passing a U.S. History CLEP® test. Many high schoolers will find themselves close to passing the Analyzing and Interpreting Literature CLEP® test. There may be additional CLEP® tests that your child is close to passing right now.
9. Parent, your first step is to look over this list of 33 available CLEP® tests.
I like this list of all 33 available CLEP® tests provided by Peterson’s.
10. Do not try to make an entire college degree out of CLEP and other “credit-by-examination” credits.
That’s a ridiculous idea. Do you want a doctor who never actually attended any basic science classes? The bulk of college credits should be earned in actual college classrooms.
Want to learn how to prepare for CLEP® tests in as little time as possible?
Build your confidence and your ability to learn quickly and efficiently by taking my 1/2-day seminar THE STRATEGIC COLLEGE STUDENT: How to Get Higher Grades While Studying Less Than Most Other People. Learn all about it here.
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Read just one chapter of LAUNCH every 1–3 months while your child’s in middle school and high school, and you’ll know every viable strategy for debt-free college at exactly the right time to implement it.
And if your child’s already well past middle school? That’s OK; you can run to catch up. But the process of getting your kids through college debt-free goes more smoothly the earlier you start it—especially if you’re not planning to save up any money to pay for college.
Do you have specific questions for me about debt-free college and career for your kids?
What about you? What strategies have you found for helping middle schoolers to earn real, transferable college credit for what they know?
Comment below or LIKE Jeannie Burlowski Author on Facebook, find this post on that page, and let’s talk about it there.
Who is Jeannie Burlowski?
Jeannie is a full-time academic strategist, podcast host, and sought-after speaker for students ages 12–26 and their parents and grandparents. Her writing, speaking, and podcasting help parents set their kids up to graduate college debt-free and move directly into careers they excel at and love. Her work has been featured in publications such as The Huffington Post, USA Today, Parents Magazine, and US News and World Report, and on CBS News.
This article was originally posted on this blog on May 21st, 2015. It was updated on November 12th, 2020.