My Secret to Graduating Early

This December I'll be graduating a semester before the average person's four years of college. If I hadn't have taken a semester off for travel, I'd be a year ahead of my high school classmates. I worked hard to be in a place that I can be ahead, but what I did is something everyone can do with a little bit of planning.

The first thing I did was I graduat a semester early from high school. Those of you who are still in high school, I'd highly recommend it! I worked closely with my advisor starting in my sophomore year. She showed me the credits I would need to finish a bit earlier. I did have to take economics online during a summer term, but it was worth it in the end!

I graduated in December 2015 and by January, I was headed to college! This isn't the best option for everyone, or an easy one, but for me it was the right decision. 

Another tool I used was CLEP testing. When I first heard of it, I couldn't believe no one had told me sooner! I've realized now that it's an incredible resource for all college students.

CLEP testing is a form of testing to earn college credits. Basically you study for the exam, buy the tes, then take it at a proctored test sight near you. You don't even have to be college age to do it. If you're in high school, you could start gaining college credit. 

I recieved a total of 15 credits through CLEP testing, which is the equivellent to an entire semester in college.

The exams cost $87 each. When you compare that to the time and money you put into a single college class, CLEP exams make a lot of sense. Depending on the university you go to, it could cost you up to $600 for one class. If you pass the CLEP test, you save yourself over $500. If you're a military member, the $87 fee is waived for the first try on each exam you take. There are also study guides you can purchase through their website and online practice tests to fully prepare yourself. 

If you don't pass the first time, you can retry in three months. That gives you time to study harder and make sure you pass the next time you take it! There were a few tests I didn't pass the first time and then aced in the second. Don't feel bad if you've got to retake it, it'll still be less expensive than taking the class at a university.

The way that you get credit can seem a bit confusing. Each university has their own list of passed CLEP tests that they will accept for credit. They also list the score you need to recieve on the exam to get credit for that class. So with that said, make sure you look up on your university's website to make sure they will accept the CLEP you want to take and note the score you'll need to get. Once you find out if the university you go to will accept the score, when purchasing the test online it will ask if you'd like to send your score to a university. Select yes, find the university you'd like to send it to and head to your proctored sight! Once you finish taking the test, your score will be automatically sent to your university for review. 

On the flip side, CLEP testing does only cover pre-requisite courses like math, science, english and some languages. You cannot test your way into getting an entire degree. However, if you did at all well in those 101 courses in high school, it can feel like a waste of time and money to take them again in college. The other thing to realize is that they aren't easy, you do need to study and put in the work to pass these exams. If you do, it's definitely worth it.

Go check out the CLEP Website: https://clep.collegeboard.org