College Prep: CLEP or Not?

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CLEP has become quite popular in the homeschool community. You may be wondering, “What is CLEP?” Should I consider it for my child? In this post, College Prep: CLEP or Not? I’ll share the upside and downside of CLEP in college admissions.
CLEP is a test created by the College Board to assess college level knowledge of a subject. It’s called the College Level Examination Program. Essentially, if your child knows a subject well enough to pass the test, he can earn college credit for that subject.
College Prep: CLEP or Not?

When is CLEP a good option?

If your child is highly motivated and eager to pursue an advanced degree that requires a bachelors degree as a first step, CLEP exams can jump start your child’s education. In some cases, your child can earn his entire degree through CLEP. I met a young man who earned his degree at eighteen through CLEP exams. He then applied to Houston Law School and was admitted after a lengthy interview. However, the school had concerns about his ability to handle an actual college class. He struggled and admits he should have taken a few classroom courses before starting law school. In the end, however, he ended up doing well in his law classes.

If the university your child is most interested in attending accepts CLEP credit, CLEP can be a great option because it’s both cost and time effective. A bright and motivated student can CLEP a lot of classes in a short period of time—garnering lots of college credits and saving a ton of money.

When is CLEP not a good option?

Many rigorous universities do not recognize CLEP. My daughter passed a CLEP exam and earned a score that typically garners six hours of English credit. However, only one of the universities she wished to attend would accept the credits. Be sure to check whether or not the schools your child is interested in accept CLEP credits to ensure you don’t end up wasting valuable time and money pursuing CLEP. Do a search for CLEP on the university’s website. The admissions department will have a list of the exams they accept.

Earning a bachelor’s degree through CLEP is not the best option for most students. The college experience offers much more than a degree. Your child will find like minded friends, begin lifelong relationships, learn independence and self awareness, and build networks that will increase his employment opportunities. He will most likely have the chance at many interesting and varied internships and study abroad programs and will gain wisdom and life skills through the multitude of opportunities and experiences college life affords. Your child will miss many of these benefits if he chooses to pursue college at home.

One worldwide lament is how difficult it is to make friends after college. A person’s college friends are typically true and lifelong friends. It is in the unique setting of a college campus that your child will learn who he is and what it is God wants him to do with his life. This is why I recommend CLEP only for garnering credits before entering college or earning a degree if one already has a career path in place.

Aside from this, I have heard of many adults finally earning their degree by CLEP. Kudos to them!

Once you decide CLEP is the right option for your child, you’ll need to research where your child can take the tests. Most community colleges and universities have testing centers where you can take a CLEP exam. My daughter went to our local community college and registered there, sat down alone in a room full of computers, took the exam, and got her score immediately. It was that easy! Learn more about registering for an exam; and look online for CLEP exam study guides. There are many out there.

It can be overwhelming wading through the various college preparation options. But remember, the Lord has already marked out the path that is best for your child. Ask Him for clear direction when making these important decisions. He will give you and your child the wisdom to make the right choice.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Psalm 32:8

Read on to learn more about preparing for college. 


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