The Top 4 Reasons All Families Should Consider Early College

In a recent free homeschool workshop hosted by Alpha Omega Publications, Jean Burk, founder of College Prep Genius, joined us to share the ABCs of early college. With a plethora information to digest, homeschool families can often feel overwhelmed or confused. That’s why Jean offers a few of the most important details you’ll want to know if you’re considering early college for your child.

Before jumping into the specifics, Jean started by sharing why all families should at least consider early college options which would allow a high school student, or in some cases even middle school students, to receive college credit. Here are the top 4 reasons to consider early college:

1. It can save you money.
The most obvious perk of early college is that it can save your family money. The cost of college continues to increase, but students who take high school classes for college credit are able to decrease tuition costs by graduating early or getting the jump-start they need to stick to a four-year track.

2. It avoids duplication.
Several freshmen-level courses are repeats of what your homeschooler may have already mastered. For example, College Algebra is often just a repeat of Algebra I. Early college options allow your child to get college credit while avoiding unnecessary repetition.

3. It provides schedule flexibility.
When freshman enter college, they are thrown into a large pool that often struggle to sign up for the same classes. With a few credits from early college options, students are given privileges to sign up for courses sooner than other freshmen. This allows them flexibility when creating their schedule.

4. It offers academic rigor.
By nature, early college options are more challenging than your average class. Not only is this academic rigor excellent for challenging an advanced child, but these early college options also look great on transcripts.

With these reasons in mind, Jean dove into the main options for early college and some helpful details you should know about each.

AP Courses
Advanced Placement (AP) courses can be taken while still in high school, and they offer students a taste of what college will be like. AP courses are specific courses provided by the College Board that culminate with an AP test. When a student scores high enough on the AP test, this translates to college credit.

Homeschoolers who wish to take AP classes need to find an authorized AP campus or a teacher certified by the College Board to teach that AP class. Be sure to check with the college your child is interested in to confirm that they accept AP credits. You can find more about AP campuses and the selection of AP courses on the AP College Board website.

Like AP courses, CLEP exams are offered by the College Board. Unlike the AP program which includes a course and an exam, students who choose CLEP as an early college option only need to pass the exams. CLEP exams cover information that is usually taught during the first two years of college. Anyone, at any age, can sit for a CLEP exam to demonstrate mastery of that subject. This means even younger students can take a CLEP exam for college credit.

Although CLEP credits are not accepted at as many places as AP courses, they are still accepted at around 2,900 institutions. Once again, do your homework to check with your college of interest to confirm that they accept CLEP credits. To learn more, visit the CLEP College Board website.

Dual Credit/Dual Enrollment
The final early college option that Jean talked about was dual credit programs, which are also sometimes known as dual enrollment. A dual credit/enrollment program allows students to simultaneously get college credit and high school credit for the same course in partnership with a local college.

Generally, a three-credit college course translates to one high school credit. Again, Jean stressed the importance of checking with the college or university of your child’s choosing to confirm they will accept dual credit from the local college.

The dual credit/enrollment option is excellent for students who may not be ready for the extreme rigor of AP courses, but still want a challenge. To participate in most classes, students must be 16 years or older. You can find information about dual credit/enrollment classes by checking with your local college or by looking at an online program like the one offered by Alpha Omega Academy.

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