How Do I Know What Type of Alternative Credit is Right for Me?

alternative credit

There are a number of ways to earn college credit without ever stepping foot on a college campus. In this post, learn about the different types of alternative credit and then decide which approach is best for you.

Alternative Credit at a Glance

Let's face it: college requires hard work and dedication if you want to be successful. That being said, many people simply aren't able to devote themselves to attending a college or university full time, or even part time. Perhaps it's a family, job, or high school commitments that stand in the way, or maybe it's indecision about future plans.

Whatever the case may be, you'll be glad to know that there are ways around those obstacles that can allow you to earn college credit. Let's take a look at the different types of alternative college credit and how they work so that you can decide what's right for you.

Types of Alternative Credit

Online College Courses

Although online college courses typically require you to enroll in a college or university, they are a good choice for people with busy lifestyles who want to earn college credit in a flexible, convenient way. Online college courses allow you to work towards a degree or certificate at your own pace and when it's best for you. They can be highly beneficial to individuals who want a college education but have common obligations such as a career and/or children. Busy high school students may also find online college courses useful for getting a jumpstart on their college coursework. Additionally, some colleges let you enroll in online core classes without choosing a major, which can be helpful if you aren't 100% sure about your future plans.

It's very important to understand that just because online courses are convenient, they aren't a walk in the park. They require high levels of self-motivation and discipline if you want to be successful and earn the credit they offer.


Credit by Exam

Another way to earn alternative credit is by taking exams that test you in specific subject areas. They can be great for people looking to earn credit at an affordable cost. Two of the most popular credit-by-exam programs are the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) and Advanced Placement (AP).

CLEP is available to people from all walks of life and allows you to earn college credit by taking exams in subjects you already know and are familiar with. You can choose from among 33 different exams in several subject areas, including college composition, literature, world languages, history, science, math, and business. By demonstrating your current knowledge and earning a passing score on CLEP exams, you earn credit that's accepted at nearly 3,000 colleges around the world. As a result, you can skip the college course that corresponds with the exam content, which not only gives you a head start on college, but also saves you tuition money. Each CLEP exam costs $80, which is pennies compared to the cost of a traditional college course. CLEP exams are offered at several testing centers, typically found in colleges and universities.

The AP program is aimed at high school students looking to gain college-level experiences and credits as well as save money on college tuition. AP offers 38 advanced-level courses that high school students can take to boost their knowledge in specific areas, each with a related exam at the end of the course. By passing the exam, you earn credit that counts towards your degree program once you get to college. Like CLEP credit, this means that you can often skip the class that aligns with each AP course and exam. The AP exams cost $93, which is also significantly less than a college course. AP courses and exams are offered at many high schools; however, if your school doesn't have an AP program, you can often find one nearby that does.


Study.com Online Courses

The last type of alternative credit we're going look at is available through Study.com's College Accelerator, which offers a huge library of online courses. These courses are aimed at anyone looking for an innovative, engaging, and affordable way to earn college credit from home. They are available in numerous subjects and feature short video lessons that use real-life examples to relate content to real life.

With a monthly subscription, you can access as many or as few courses as you wish. Each course ends with a final proctored exam that, if passed, earns you credit that can be transferred to over 2,000 colleges and universities in the United States.


Going Forward

Now that you know more about the various types of alternative credit, you should be able to make an educated decision as to what's best for you. Your decision should take into account your educational wants and needs, future career goals, and budget. Always remember that if you decide to earn alternative credit, be sure that it will transfer to your chosen college or university if and when the time comes.

By Erin Riskey
March 2017
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