When you are looking at using CLEP, AP, or Community College, you may wonder which one is best.  "Best" is not always easy to decipher.

I'll tell you the big truth about all of this:  it depends on the college your child will ultimately attend.  If you ask 10 different colleges, you might get 10 different answers.  Some very prestigious colleges feel the same way about AP exams and community college classes.  It's almost impossible to tell.

Jennifer wrote to me expressing great concern that CLEP exams would hurt high achieving students.  She worried that CLEP tests were too easy compared to AP.  Someone told her that a college looked negatively upon CLEP tests.

Each college is unique. In my business I talk to a lot of colleges.  I try to represent the views of many colleges as even-handedly as possible.  It's important to realize that the range of college preference and attitude varies dramatically - as much as parents homechool preferences from unschool to classical.  I'm trying to serve the entire homeschool community who may go to any of these colleges.  It's difficult to give absolute answers to questions that vary so much from student to student and college to college.  As with everything we homeschoolers do, it's the parents responsibility to determine from the colleges what they want to see.

No harm will come to your child for taking the CLEP.  It may or may not be beneficial, but it can't hurt.  You have the option of submitting scores or not submitting scores to colleges.  You can choose to include CLEP on the transcript or not include it.  Taking a CLEP test doesn't mean your child didn't learn something - it's not going to hurt anyone. There are many opinions on CLEP (good and bad) and many opinions of AP (good and bad).  Some colleges don't accept community college credits either.

All you can really do is to educate your child as best you can, and then get to know the colleges where he might apply.  Try to give each college what they want. So for example, if you wanted your child to attend that particular school, you would simply not submit CLEP scores to that college, and you would leave it off the transcript.  But if his number 2 school DID accept CLEP, you would send them the CLEP scores to show what your son could do.

That said, if you are thinking about the Ivy schools, your best bet is AP for testing.  Check to see if they value community college classes - some really encourage that, and others just hate community college classes.

With my gifted child, we decided NOT to send him away for college at a very young age.  The local colleges were very accepting of CLEP.  I waited until the summer before we applied, and had him take all the CLEPS he could pass at that time.  We didn't have CLEP accumulated over the years.  Gifted kids are.... complicated, with lots of moving parts.  It's not just what they are capable of in college, but how mature will they be, and when will they be ready for college, and should they leave home before they are 18, etc.  Very complicated stuff.  So for now, take it one day at a time.

Just remember the key concept:  educate your child to the best of your ability for right now.  When the time comes to apply to colleges, you'll be ready.


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