Posted in HS4CC

Learning Stack at Studycom

If you’re planning to earn college credit through this year, I have a new strategy that will save you money and a good bit of time for your teen. I’m calling this strategy “Learning Stacks” and it will accelerate college credit accumulation significantly.

If you’re new to Studycom or ACE credit, you will want to read my post FIRST that explains the limitations of using this kind of credit at college. If you’re already a pro, read on!

Learning Stack: Why?

A Learning Stack is a carefully selected set of courses that build on each other. Let me give you an example. Let’s say in 9th grade, your teen takes French 1. In 10th grade, they take Chinese 1. In 11th grade, they take Spanish 1, and in 12th grade, they take German 1. You can imagine that their exposure is wide, and their knowledge is shallow. In addition, each school year they essentially started from scratch, and almost 100% of their learning was new. Learning this way is slow and hard for most people, which is why most of us don’t try and learn a new language every year!

Now, let’s compare that scenario to a student who chooses French 1 in 9th grade, but then each year of high school progresses through French 2, French 3, and French 4. Even if the student isn’t an “expert” in French language at that point, their ability to read, write, speak, and communicate in French is significantly better than the student who spent each year learning a different language.

This concept seems like common sense, but when our teens start earning college credit in high school, we often do the total opposite of this strategy! Many parents are trying to meet graduation requirements or college admissions requirements, so they are forced to have their teens jump around. Each semester or school year brings a different subject and the learning starts all over again. Much like the language example above, learning new sciences each year (Biology, Chemistry, Physics) or new history each year (American, European, World) misses the opportunity for a student to gain depth and comprehension of a subject.

I know you’re wondering how this fits into a high school or college plan. While its true that some college admissions requirements are very specific, most simply say “3 units of science” or “3 units of history” and allow the high school (you) to choose the exact courses. Furthermore, if you’re using partner colleges (which I highly recommend to anyone using this type of college credit) these colleges do not have the same specific admissions requirements as elite and selective colleges. This is great news for Homeschooling for College Credit because it allows you to accumulate college credit with maximum efficiency for minimum cost at a college that embraces the premise. It’s all upside.

Learning Stack: How

In a Learning Stack your teen’s first course will take the longest. It’s generally 100% new information and they’re starting from scratch. Their second course in the stack will share a little bit of overlap in the technical sense but the real gain is in knowledge base. Like the foreign language example, the student isn’t being constantly challenged with 100% new information, which allows them to grasp the new content with a little less effort. As you can imagine, courses #3 and #4 are now a breeze! A student doesn’t expend energy and effort learning the fundamentals, their brain quickly moves beyond what they already know and just expends energy picking up new information.

A Learning Stack consists of 3-5 courses in the same subject area that are intentionally overlapping in knowledge and in lessons complete. doesn’t make you repeat a lesson, so if you do a lesson in course #1, you don’t have to do it again in course #2 or #3, etc. So, while it may take 2-3 weeks to complete the first course, by the time the student is in their 4th or 5th course, it may take them only a few days to finish a course! Leveraging this Learning Stack strategy will accelerate their college credit so significantly, that your student may go from completing 1-2 courses per month to as many as 5.

Learning Stacks: Example

Start with a subject your teen enjoys! If their first class is enjoyable, you’re more likely to get them to buy in to more classes, thus saving you more money on their degree. If my teen enjoys history, and I want him to study United States History this year, I can build a Learning Stack using‘s courses that are in United States History and that are also worth college credit. (see my build below) To make the most of my United States History Learning Stack, I’m going to use chronological order as well. This doesn’t work for all subjects, but always works in history. Note that the course numbers appear out of order, that’s because I’ve rearranged them so my son learns chronologically.

You can build your own Learning Stack in any subject by using the filter and sort features in their course catalog! Feel free to post and share any Learning Stacks you create so others may benefit too.

United States History

  • History 103: US History I
  • History 106: The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • History 306: The American Civil War Era (this course has homework)
  • History 104: US History II
  • History 307: American Civil Rights Movement

This Learning Stack will result in 15 college credits, and would all be scheduled in the same school year. Building your courses this way is a smart strategy, and one I hope you’ll use!

PARENT COMMENT from Natalie in Rhode Island: “Completing a course in “a few days”? Obviously that seems 100% wrong to then include that if you’re doing it for high school credit…yet…this is a brilliant idea for college credit.”

ANSWER: The Learning Stacks are done for accumulating college credit quickly, but how you translate that into high school credit is up to you. I wouldn’t award 1 high school credit for each course, rather look at a learning stack as one extra long course. I would award 1/2- 1 year of high school credit for a Learning Stack. As to the number of courses in a Learning Stack, how long it takes, and how you count high school credits in your state, those are all important too! Look at it has one long class instead of several short ones. Hope that helps!

Use this special Homeschooling for College Credit promotional coupon to get 30% off your College Accelerator plan! Use my name JenniferCookDeRosa at checkout to activate this promotion.


Executive Director of Homeschooling for College Credit

2 thoughts on “Learning Stack at Studycom

    1. Nearly every course that shares a prefix (HIS, PSY, BUS) will have some level of overlap- so you can leverage the Learning Stack knowledge this way no matter what, but, as for having units done for you, that’s a little tricky but can be done. 😉 Let me explain first why I don’t have a list, and then how to “kind of” figure it out on your own. First, they offer 200+ courses. So the starting point is one of those 200+ places. Then, the second course you take will apply the lessons from your first course and you’ll have some overlap. This happens with each subsequent course. So, for the probability folks, that’s 200 x 200 x 200, etc. variations….. So, all that to say, you won’t know until your teen completes their FIRST course. Whatever course that is, you can then go into the course catalog and open/preview other courses. Click through and look at each one. Your teen’s content will be applied AUTOMATICALLY inside the previews and you’ll see which units are already marked off. There might be 1 marked off or 20 or even 0, but you can click around until you find one you like with some overlap. Then, when your teen finishes their SECOND course, you’ll do the same thing. Repeat. Since the combinations and permutation are in the billions, I can’t give you the best math overlap, but I will suggest that if you build your stack using the same prefixes (all history or all business for instance) you’re chances are very good at finding some!!

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