reprinted with permission from the Middle Way Mom blog
I’ve talked about credit by exam previously and given further details regarding it, but in short, it refers to a test one can take and earn college credits at participating colleges. Some exams can be taken at any age, while others have some age restrictions.
We have chosen to make credit by exam the center of our homeschool goals for my daughter’s high school career. Want to know why?
Reduce college debt
This is the #1 reason we are focusing on attaining college credit without taking college classes! As Muslims, we are encouraged not to acquire debt, and interest is downright forbidden (though it is admittedly very hard to do in the US). If we can pay $100 per exam, each being worth either three or six credits, it drastically cuts down the cost of a college education. In sha Allah (God willing) we’ll be able to pay the rest of Care Bear’s college expenses with her college fund, and some cash along the way. Our goal is to get her through a Bachelor’s degree with zero debt, in sha Allah.
Pose a challenge
Since Care Bear typically has done quite well in school, she’s gotten used to putting in 50% effort. This is a dangerous habit to pick up, and giving her the challenge of passing a college level exam helps her step up her game. I want her to know how to work hard, and have a good work ethic rather than expect things to come easy and get used to putting in less than 100%.
What teen girl doesn’t have negative self talk at times? Achieving something that is perceived as extraordinary gives a nice boost to the confidence. Now of course, I definitely do not want to raise someone who is cocky, but in sha Allah we can find a balance, and so far I think we are doing well. When she gets in that cycle of negative self talk, we can talk about her achievements, and her earned college credits are a great boost.
Reduce the number of years in college
The sooner she can get started in “real life,” the more experience she can have as she reaches her prime adult years. As a 30 year old, she could have ten years experience in a given field rather than six or eight. Reducing the number of years in college also reduces some of the exposure to the crazy college life, in which many young adults leave their values for what seems fun and exciting in the moment.
Take a course once
There are many courses that Care Bear would rather not do, such as Literature. She hates Literature with a passion (as did I when I was her age), and it’s definitely the subject in which I nag the most about things getting done. Now, does she want to do Literature once in high school, or have to do it again in college? If she passes the exam, then she won’t have to complete that same course in college. Win-win!
Time to travel
Since Care Bear won’t, in sha Allah, be in college as long as her typical counterparts, she can take a year or more off from school or work and do what she wants. Maybe she wants to live in Hawaii for a year, get a small apartment and an easy job just to soak in the sun and enjoy herself. If she already has the Bachelor’s degree under her belt, then what’s the problem?
Care Bear currently has one exam under her belt that earns her three college credits and I have the next exam scheduled. Almost all of her coursework for high school has an exam in mind for the end of the year, so it’s easy to say it is our focus and goal for her high school years. The goals are lofty, but even if she only passes half of the exams, that is a significant contribution for her college career, in sha Allah!
Also check out my series on how to plan your high school around exams! (The first of five. See the end of the post for the others)
Have you thought about credit by exam using CLEP, DSST, or AP? How does it fit into your schooling?
About the Author:
When the Great Recession left Shannen laid off from her IT Management career, she decided it was a good time to pull her then 9 year old out of public school and start homeschooling. She now homeschools her high schooler while chasing after two little ones and is passionate about gaining college credit through AP, CLEP or DSST exams. You can find her writing about homeschooling, faith, encouragement, parenting, and green living (every once in a while), at Middle Way Mom. Shannen also shares great credit by exam finds and posts on her College in High School Pinterest board.