Posted in HS4CC

Does my Teen have College Credit?

Does that sound like a crazy question? Not so fast! In today’s post, you’ll learn how to know it your teen has college credit….or potential college credit.

When a family is Homeschooling for College Credit, there are often a lot of moving parts- high school classes, college classes, credit by exam, and even the non-college college classes (huh?) so it’s not always obvious as to whether or not your teen has college credit!

Besides it being nice to know, it actually matters for another reason. Your teen’s future college will require that your teen disclose all prior college credit in their application for admissions. We want to be sure we don’t accidently omit important credit.

Not College Credit

If your teen is taking a high school class (taught by your or someone else) for high school credit, it is not worth college credit. This will always be true, even if it is an Advanced Placement or very challenging high school class. As the homeschooling parent, you will award high school credit for the class, but the student has not earned college credit.

Potential College Credit

Believe it or not, there are a number of opportunities to earn college credit, that are technically only “potential college credit” until they are recorded by a college. From the Homeschooling for College Credit list of 30 ways to Earn College Credit (aka Chapter 2 of the book) some examples of potential college credit include: Advanced Placement Exam, DSST Exam, CLEP Exam, Sophia, Straighterline, Studycom, Saylor Academy, ALEKS math, CSM Learn, and the Foreign Language exams.

Why are these only “potential” college credit? Because these types of credits weren’t issued by a college, they were issued by an organization or business. Who offers the class is the important distinction. For a course be worth college credit, it will need to be evaluated by an actual college. Once a college evaluates the potential credit and adds them to your teen’s college transcript, the credit is now actual college credits- but only at that college. If your teen changes colleges, the credits return to “potential” college credit and must be evaluated again by every new college. (I call the attempt to disguise credit “credit laundering” and though there are exceptions, credit is almost always subject to reevaluation with each transfer.)

Potential college credit does not have to be disclosed on a college admissions application, and is not counted when a student is asked if they have prior college credit. A student with potential college credit in any amount still has zero college credit in terms of admissions applications, Common Application, FAFSA financial aid application, or scholarship applications.

Though it may feel like credit in this category is risky, when a parent resourcefully plans the process, it can be an excellent opportunity to earn enormous amounts of college credit for pennies. As an example, is when a parent integrates CLEP exams into a teen’s high school classes. By taking CLEP exams at the end of certain high school classes, our teen may wind up with lot of college credit without much extra work and for an out of pocket cost of $0. There’s no reason NOT to stockpile CLEP credit! Read more about CLEP.

Disclosure of these credits/scores to future colleges is completely optional, as is whether or not you include them on your teen’s high school transcript.

Actual College Credit

Actual college credit occurs when your student takes a class through a college. The college will maintain a permanent record of the attempt (on a college transcript) and your teen will always have to disclose that attempt in future college applications.

One advantage of earning college credit this way is that each successful class has a very high likelihood of acceptance later. The disadvantage is that a poor grade will also carry forward. If your student is participating in a state-funded dual enrollment / concurrent enrollment / early college / program, these credits generate both college and high school credit. The college will record the college credit and you’ll record the high school credit on their homeschool transcript.

The KEY POINT TO KNOW when earning college credit in high school is that it doesn’t change your student’s admissions status. This means that your teen can earn as much actual college credit in high school as they like (usually for free or reduced tuition) and they will STILL BE A FIRST TIME INCOMING FRESHMAN when they apply to college and for financial aid/scholarships. This is an advantage if you WANT your teen to be a freshman- but if you would rather they apply as a transfer student, you’ll have to arrange for them to earn college credit after high school graduation.

Other examples of actual college credit are participating in a dual enrollment program outside of your state, Arizona State University’s Universal Learner program, Outlier classes, or summer programs that generate college credit.

Watch Homeschooling for College Credit 101


Executive Director of Homeschooling for College Credit