For better or worse, one of my main goals in college was to finish as quickly as possible. Yes I loved learning and yes I really loved taking every math course I could, but there were these other courses that… well… got in the way. Of course being a few years older now and having a bit more experience, I can see the value in every required course. But at the time? Let’s just say I was more focused on the time and money involved.
In reality, college is a bit of a game. There is the “love for learning” aspect where you develop as a person by progressing through these different courses and there is the “get the piece of paper and a job (or go to grad school, etc)” aspect that, while not ideal, is a big part of things. This second aspect is what initially drove my research into CLEP tests.
CLEP tests are given by the college board (the same group behind the SAT) and they have the test for a variety of subjects including college mathematics and college algebra for $77 each. Here is the biggie: Passing the test will result in credit for the corresponding course (depending on your college’s policy).
Think about that for a minute. A course is usually 3 credit hours. I don’t know about tuition near you, but near me the lowest I know of is about $150/credit hour and of course it only goes up from there. In other words, you pay $77 and get at LEAST 3 * $150 = $450 worth of credit. That doesn’t even account for the time saved! That is one less class to take and often it is a prerequisite to other courses. You can move on with your life!
I used CLEP tests to skip 6 credits of freshman composition courses and head straight to a really fun literature course (well, I didn’t think it would be fun but I KNEW I wasn’t going to pass a test to get out of it 🙂 ). At my college, this saved me over $1,500 and a full year of gen ed courses.
Anyone can study hard and pass a CLEP test. It’s worth researching the tests a bit to see if you can save some tuition here and there. Make sure you check with your prospective college as far as their rules for granting credit. Lucky for us, the college board made a sweet little tool you can use to find your college’s policy: http://clep.collegeboard.org/started.