High School Homeschooling, Christian Home Education

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CLEPs and the Secondary School - Part 1

CLEPs and the Secondary School - Part 1

Back in the spring of 2001, we met a young man with a very exciting new book. He was a homeschooled student in his early 20s. A rather handsome fellow in a black suit and a tie, we were impressed with his professional look. We were all attending a state homeschooling conference on the East Coast. Little did we know how similar in educational philosophies we were, or how much our information overlapped ... until we talked.

This young man was Brad Voeller. His new book was Accelerated Distance Learning. When coupled with our book, The Guidance Manual for the Christian Homeschool, parents had all the information required to not only educate their children at home through high school, but through college too. Brad had done this, at a fraction of the cost, he says, less than $5,000!

Brad's book explains how homeschooled students can use CLEPs, Dantes, portfolios, and other tools to accelerate the college program and get an accredited degree in 200 different disciplines.

Those who have followed our ministry and have read our books know that we are very "pro-CLEP" as well.

We are now offering to help students get to the next level. With the increasing interest in using alternative approaches to learning, there is a real opportunity to assist homeschooling students in "double crediting" high school and college using College Level Examination Program (CLEP) exams. CLEP provides a value to homeschooling students because they meet several criteria that homeschoolers find attractive.

There will be some homeschoolers who will not be pro-CLEP. These parents believe that testing is a poor way to measure academic performance. We don't necessarily disagree. However, since the tests are offered on a pass/fail standard, they are the least intrusive way to measure. Since the only alternative assessment is probably the portfolio, the amount of work involved in a CLEP exam may be arguably less. Additionally, CLEPs are recognized by more than 2,900 college and university admissions offices.

We think they are useful for the following reasons:

1. If nothing else, CLEPs provide a way to "validate" a high school subject objectively. Colleges recognizing homeschooling transcripts is becoming an increasing problem. The independent evaluation offered by a College Board-based test (www.collegeboard.com/clep) gives recognition of achievement that should be unquestionable. Who is going to be able to legitimately argue that passing a standardized college test does not equate to receiving the credit in high school? Only perhaps educators. (We won't go there).

2. Many homeschooled students are completing the required college preparatory curriculum at 14 or 15 (as our children did). Most parents are not interested in having their young children attend college full-time at these ages. In fact, most colleges will find this untenable, if for no other reason than the fact that the students are so young. So what can parents do with their student at this point? How do they keep the student interested in learning? Yes, they could take courses at the local community college or university. But again, these children will be introduced to materials in the college classroom that are perhaps not quite acceptable for intellectual consumption at their young age. CLEPs provide an alternative. In fact, they can "double credit" the courses at the very same time they are taking their high school college prep curriculum.

3. Many times the first and second-year college courses are remedial in nature. If our students have mastered these, why take them again? Doing so wastes time and money. Our own children were extremely bored with their freshman college courses. Why not CLEP these classes, allowing the students to go right into the heart of their major? Why waste thousands of dollars on repeated information? That doesn't make sense economically, nor as good stewardship of time and intelligence.

4. Some courses are just better learned at home. Introductory Psychology and Sociology are two good examples. Frankly, the problem with these courses is not always the material. Most of the time it is the peripheral concepts presented by the professor. We know of a young lady who was forced to watch pornography as part of her introductory sociology class! What does that have to do with teaching basic terms and concepts of sociology? Nothing. It was just the imposition of a humanist agenda. It was uncalled for. Let your child study these subjects in a more reasonable manner with parental support, test out using a CLEP exam, and avoid the detrimental effects of the college classroom. By the way, even taking these classes at a Christian college doesn't guarantee that the student will avoid these issues. Don't be blinded by the Christian name meaning Christian content.

5. There is no age or grade requirement to take a CLEP. They are inexpensive to take. The average cost of a CLEP-based course is the $50 enrollment fee plus a nominal $15 to $25 administrative fee. Add up to $100 for a preparatory class (we'll get into that shortly), and maybe $25 to $100 in books (which would also be required for a college course). The total investment will be between $120 and $300. That same course at a college will run between $600 and $1,500. There is no doubt that using CLEPs will save money.

6. Make sure that the college you plan for your child to attend will accept them, if taken just for high school validation is not enough of a reason. Some colleges only accept certain ones. Others only accept a certain number of them. Others don't accept them at all. Others accept them all. It totally depends on the college. Do your homework.

We're sure there are other justifications, too. Be aware of the positive opportunities that using CLEPs can give your student(s). Next time we will share how we can help you prepare for CLEP exams.

David and Laurie Callihan are authors of The Guidance Manual for the Christian Homeschool: A Parent's Guide for Preparing Home School Students for College or Career. If you would like to put together a CLEP Prep Class, write for an "Administrative Planning Guide" at planningguide@davidandlaurie.com. To learn more about their ideas for homeschooling through high school, go to www.davidandlaurie.com.