Recently, my younger daughter (who is now in high school) and I were discussing future career plans and finding personalized learning options. Her older sister chose to pursue an Associates degree program in nuclear medicine technology and her older brother chose to pursue an innovative apprenticeship program in marketing/business. I wanted to know her thoughts for the future. She fiddled with the pen in front of her.
“Well, I definitely want to do something challenging that uses my brain,” she said.
What career doesn’t use your brain?, I thought. “Okay. So, what are you thinking?”
“Well, maybe a crime scene investigator. Or, maybe graphic design or web design. Maybe missions working with kids. I really like doing the 5 Day Clubs. Or, maybe something where I solve problems, like engineering.”
“You have a lot of different ideas, some of them requiring college. Let’s look into how we can help you get a head start and do it for less money,” I told her and patted her hand. She smiled at me and nodded. To help her decide on a path, I had her complete a career assessment tool. Then, we talked options.
Personalized Learning Options for College
Credit by Exam
One of the easiest ways to get a head start on college is through credit by exam. As I mentioned, my oldest daughter enrolled at our local community college to earn an Associates degree. Her plan is to take as many CLEP* exams as she can to save money and time. However, students must earn at least six credits through traditional classroom enrollment before the college will accept CLEP credit. So, my daughter can only get credit for about a semester of classes. Better than nothing, though, since her degree cannot be earned online or through other non-traditional means.
My younger daughter has the opportunity to prepare for the Literature Advanced Placement (AP) exam through our homeschool co-op. She will need to score high on this exam if she hopes to gain any benefits. A high score may or may not give her college credit or allow her to take advanced college courses. It really depends on where she chooses to apply. This is probably the most tenuous of the college credit by exam options, but it can play a role in a personalized learning approach.
Other options for obtaining college credit through non-traditional means, including exam, are: DSST (formerly DANTES**), ACE***, and NCCRS****.
Where I live, homeschooled students can enroll at the local junior college as early as age 16 and begin earning college credit while still in high school. Commonly known as “dual enrollment,” homeschoolers have been doing this for years and we are no exception! My two oldest children both attended a few college classes while in high school. However, it is still a college campus and can be socially problematic. But, it may be the best option for a personalized learning plan for your teen, especially if s/he needs the accountability, structure, and support of live classes. And, certain career tracks require community college, such as the trades, paraprofessionals, and some healthcare fields.
Ultimate Personalized Learning Plan: Match Online College with Exams!
One of my favorite ways to avoid some of the problems with college campuses is taking college courses online. It enables teens to get a head start on college without the college atmosphere. But, how do I know if the courses will transfer? It seems like everyone offers online college and swindles folks out of thousands of dollars when they discover that their college “credit” is useless. Enter Study.com. This extensive online homeschool curriculum site offers courses that prepare young students to earn ACE or NCCRS credits, accepted at more than 1,500 colleges and universities nationwide. And, if my teen’s college of choice accepts CLEP credits instead, their courses can prepare my teen for those exams, too. They also offer online homeschool curriculum courses specifically for high school for a smooth transition to college work.
Because she may be college bound, I got my daughter started right away on their high school Algebra program so she can get used to the platform first. And then, through Study.com, we can design a personalized learning plan for her that seamlessly blends high school and college coursework, all in one place!
Another nice perk of Study.com is that they list their guaranteed transfer partner colleges right there on their website! And, many of these accredited colleges and universities offer online degree programs as well. They also guide you through the process of applying the credit you earned through Study.com to the partner college degree programs so there’s no guesswork. Very convenient.
Don’t put your teen in a box and count on scholarships and federal aid to foot the bill for college. Develop a personalized learning plan that saves your teen time and money, that’s flexible without losing a year of school, and that s/he can start now. Your teen may need a degree to become an engineer, a nurse, a city planner, or a teacher. But, s/he doesn’t need to accumulate mountains of debt over five years of school (yes, most students do not finish in four years!) to do it. Explore these options instead!
*CLEP. College Level Examination Program. Administered by the College Board and accepted by 2,900 colleges and universities
**DSST/DANTES. U.S. Department of Defense Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support exams.
***ACE. American Council on Education.
****NCCRS. National College Credit Recommendation Service.