It is hidden in the open. But it only works if parents and their children are aware of it years before the children plan to start college. Learn about it here…
The method I’m speaking of is passing CLEP exams. Students can study for CLEP exams from home, then if they do well enough on the exams they “test out” of the college courses. The CollegeBoard website explains the benefit:
The College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) helps you earn college credit for what you already know, for a fraction of the cost of a college course. It is accepted by 2,900 colleges and universities and is administered in more than 1,800 test centers.
CLEP allows you to demonstrate mastery of college-level material and earn college credit, regardless of where you learned the material. It offers 33 exams in five subject areas, covering material taught in courses that students generally take in their first two years of college.
Consider how much money is at stake here. A CLEP exam costs about $85 in 2020. The average cost per college credit hour is $594, or about $1,782 per course. Passing a CLEP exam is the equivalent of 3 credit hours. Assuming a student spends $200 on study materials, the savings could be $1,782 – $285 = $1,497 or more per exam.
One year of college is usually 30 credit hours. That’s 10 CLEP exams. If a student starts their Freshman year of high school and takes 3 or 4 per year, then by the time they enter college they will have skipped an entire year of college. This amounts to a tremendous savings.
Parents can search for colleges and find out which CLEP exams they will take by using the CollegeBoard search engine: Search Institution Policies.
HOW TO STUDY FOR CLEP EXAMS
There are many resources online. This article has excellent practical advice: The EXACT Process for Using CLEP Tests to Skip College Courses.
The author of that article lays out 6 steps in the overall process:
- Find a University That Accepts CLEP
- Plan Your Courses
- Prep for the CLEP Exams
- Schedule and Take Your CLEP Exams
- Transfer Your CLEP Credits
- Earn Your Degree
The first 3 steps make it plain why parents and students need to know about CLEP as early as possible. There is planning involved. You must qualify a university. If it doesn’t take CLEP credit, then it is crossed off the list.
Then there is the planning stage. Different majors require different coursework, but there will be some courses that are common to most every major. Some students may not need to take CLEP exams for calculus, chemistry, or biology if they don’t plan to pursue a field in the sciences. But these exams will likely be beneficial to engineering and pre-med students.
To maximize the CLEP benefits, students will need to start as freshmen in high school. This means planning out the CLEP exams four years in advance. A family would probably be wisest to plan the most general and widely applicable exams first and save specialized courses like calculus or biology until the end. This will give the student time to figure out what degree they want to pursue.
Deacons should inform families about the CLEP program. This should be an integral part of the college search process. That’s because it can save the family a lot of money. It can also reduce the change that the children will be corrupted by reducing their time on campus, away from adult supervision. This is crucial to safeguarding their Christian worldview.
If the church offers Sunday school classes on childrearing, information about the CLEP program should be introduced as a part of the curriculum. Parents need to know that there are cheaper ways to send their children to college.
They should also be encouraged to make their children pay their own way to college. That will also shorten the amount of time their children spend in college because they will have to foot their own bills.
To be most effective, CLEP needs to be incorporated into the college strategy years in advance of applying to colleges. This is why deacons should attempt to educate their members on ways to reduce college expenses as soon as possible. Cheaper education means bigger inheritance and less debt. This is good for the member families and good for God’s kingdom.