Leaving Traditional College Behind?
- Monday, July 13, 2009
It took about twenty years, but these men, with the help of the government, were able to change the face of education in America. About this time, the idea of “high school” took hold in mainstream society. Children could learn from textbooks, have some facts crammed into their heads, and then be ready to work on an assembly line at a local factory or manufacturing plant. Much like the careers many went to work in after that, the grade-segregated system in the United States is now called a “conveyor-belt education” by some educators, as opposed to the “leadership education” that prepared the Founding Fathers to establish the most stable republic in the history of modern times.
College and High School Overlap—Why Do the Same Work Twice?
Accelerated distance learning is changing all of this. A major part of the revolution is abandoning the modern high school/college model in favor of one that combines high school and college level studies. Instead of studying algebra and biology in high school and college, students using ADL study these and other subjects in high school and then take exams that give them college credits for the work they’ve already completed.
These, the College Level Examination Program exams, or CLEP for short, have become more popular in recent years with those looking to sidestep the college classroom, save time on their college studies, or both. Anyone is eligible to sit for a CLEP exam. If the student passes the test, they are given between three and twelve credits, depending on which exam they take. Incidentally, a CLEP exam costs $80, making the per-credit cost of a degree minuscule compared to the credit cost at a state university, which typically costs $250 on up. This way, students can complete their entire degree for about $15,000 as opposed to $41,000 or $108,000, the going rate for public and private schools, respectively.
Since anyone can take a CLEP exam, high schoolers across the country are using CLEP exams to get college credit before they enroll in a college. The organization that administers the CLEP exams, the College Board, banks those credits and makes them available for transfer when the student enrolls in a college or university later on.
For most CLEP exams, including Biology, US History, and College Math, students can use their high school textbooks to prepare for exams. For instance, the Apologia Biology textbooks by Dr. Jay Wile contain sufficient information to pass the exam. When you hear someone say that the first two years of college are a review of high school, they’re not kidding!
We would suggest that every family look for a CLEP study guide to accompany their exam preparation. One of the most comprehensive sets of study guides produced is from a company called Education Research Association (www.rea.com). There’s one study guide per exam. These guides give the student a general idea of how to prepare for the exam as well as a couple of practice exams that closely simulate the actual CLEP test. (Note: these are study guides and are not intended to be the full resource studied.)
Later, when students have amassed a considerable amount of CLEP credit, they can transfer those credits into the college or university they want to get their degree from.
When students have maxed out the amount of CLEP credit they can get for their particular major, they can then apply to a local college or an online institution to finish out the rest of their studies through traditional or online coursework.
If gaining credit outside the classroom isn’t revolutionary enough, students and their families can take it one step further. The great thing about CLEP exams is that students are not tied down to a twelve-week semester schedule. As long as students know the material, they can take the exam—practically any day of the year except major holidays. That means that if you have a history buff in the family, he can take the exam as soon as he feels confident enough, whether that’s a day, a week, or a month. Or your daughter who just finished a biology course can sit for the biology CLEP and walk away with six college credits.
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