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Four Ways to Earn Credit Before You Enroll in College

April 15, 2010 By: Category: College Tips

Today we have a guest post from Barry Lenson, a contributing editor at StraighterLine. He writes extensively on education and success in blogs, books, newsletters and other publications.

Many students are now taking courses before they arrive on campus. Cal State schools will soon be requiring some new students to take remedial courses in English and math before they arrive on campus. Some students are taking required college courses twice – once ahead of time, and then again on campus - so they can get better grades the second time around. Others are reducing overall college expenses by taking required courses at low-cost community colleges. But whatever motivations are at work, more students are seeking ways to earn college credits before they show up for freshman year. If you’re thinking about it too, here are some effective ways to get those credits earned ahead of time.

  1. Strategy one: earn college credit for life experiences. Speak with admissions representatives of colleges you are considering to see whether you can get college credit for experiences you have already had. This works especially well if you are entering college after having worked in the “real world” for a period of time – or if you got specialized training in the military.
  2. Strategy two: Turn your specialized knowledge into credit hours. Did you grow up speaking a second language? Did you excel in an advanced placement test in high school – but one that never granted you college-level credits? The solution can be to take a standardized test that’s administered by Educational Testing Service (the same company that offers the SAT, GMAT and other standardized tests). Called the CLEP (College Credit for Life Experience) Test, this exam is offered in more than 30 subject areas that include languages, history, mathematics and science. The cost is currently $72 per test. That’s a whole lot less than the cost of most college courses. So be sure to ask the colleges where you are applying if you can utilize the CLEP to earn credits.
  3. Strategy three: Take reasonably priced courses online to front-load your college process. StraighterLine, one provider of online courses that are transferable for college credit, allows you to fulfill your required curricular courses for a very attractive price indeed – as little as $39 per course in one of their plans. To learn more, visit StraighterLine.
  4. Strategy four: Take core courses at community colleges before you arrive on campus. If you are about to enroll in a costly private college or university, taking required courses at a community college can save a lot of money. And to sweeten the deal, many of these institutions are now offering courses in the evenings during the summer months. If you’re already parked at home while you work a summer job, community colleges can help you front-load college by earning credits ahead of time.

So, is it worth earning college credits before you pull up to your dorm, haul your trunk up to your fifth-floor room and say hello to your roommate? More students are concluding that it is. Maybe you should consider becoming one of them.